By Sharon Wilson



Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.” ~ Luke 17:19

Certain people through history have gleaned a moniker after their name that tells us more about who they were and how they lived. We have Richard the Lionhearted, William the Conqueror, and James the Just, to name a few. Today we celebrate Leo the Great!

What does it take to be remembered as “the Great?” To earn that title, we may think that one would have to have led an army, cured a plague, or climbed a great mountain. Leo is noted for his administrative ability, a defender of the faith, and as a pastoral, simple man of holiness. All wonderful qualities, but how does it warrant the title of “the Great?”

Perhaps this story about Leo the Great meeting Atilla the Hun can provide us with some clues. Attila, also known as the Scourge of God, had very little regard for others and was one of the most famous tyrants in the history of the world. At the time of this confrontation, descriptions of Leo included grey-haired and holy. Yet, the King of the Barbarians, who ransacked cities throughout Europe and Asia, was somehow no match for this humble man. As Attila sat outside the city with his great army, Leo approached the warriors not with an army but with humility and prayer.

There are no detailed accounts of what Leo said to Atilla when he went outside the city to ward off the attack. Legend has it that Saints Peter and Paul appeared in the sky with swords drawn, but Leo led with his faith and not a sword. His faith saved not only his own life but the fledgling Christian community in Rome that surely would have been ransacked. 

Atilla lived for himself.

Leo lived for others. 

Atilla trusted in his might and power.

Leo trusted in God.

That’s how you become “the Great.”


Lord, help me approach every situation, especially the difficult ones, with humility and trust in you.

Call to Action

If you were to be known as “(Your name here) the Great,” what characteristics or circumstances from your life would be evidence for this title being bestowed upon you?  If you wish, please share your answer in the comments.


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