Born March 2, 1810 in Carpineto, Italy, Pecci first achieved note as the popular and successful Archbishop of Perugia, which led to his appointment as a Cardinal in 1853. On February 20 1878, he was elected to succeed Pope Pius IX.
Leo's Papacy was one of the first to try to adapt the Church to the modern world. Leo firmly re-asserted the Scholastic doctrine that science and religion could co-exist. He also encouraged openness and discourse, opening the Vatican archives to historians and creating a number of institutions of higher learning. Leo was also the first Pope to come out strongly in favour of the French Republic, upsetting many French monarchists but also proving that the Church was not entirely reactionary. His relations with the Italian state were, however, less progressive. Leo continued the Papacy's self-imposed incarceration in the Vatican and continued to insist that Italian Catholics should not vote in Italian elections or hold elected office. He is most famous for his economic teachings, in which he condemns the modern forms of economics such as Capitalism and Communism. In 1896 he wrote a famous bull saying that the ordination of deacons, priests, and bishops in Anglican churches, including the Church of England, is not valid. The Catholic church recognizes the validity of such ordinations in the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches.
Leo famously awarded a gold medal to a fashionable nineteenth century cocaine-based drink called Vin Mariani, which was also praised and used by among others Queen Victoria and Leo's successor as pope, St. Pius X.
Pope Pius IX
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Pope Pius X