Pope Leo cuts off his own hand to avoid temptation

Pocket Bard’s notes: I’m not sure whether I’ll ever perform this one, but I think it’s an interesting example of someone who completely renounces the flesh when it interferes with his faith.


Pope Leo cuts off his own hand to avoid temptation
The Golden Legend, Volume I, trans. William Granger Ryan, p.339

We read in the book of the Miracles of the Blessed Virgin that one day when Pope Leo was offering mass in the church of Saint Mary Major and was distributing communion to the faithful, a woman kissed his hand, and he experienced a violent temptation of the flesh. The man of God, taking cruel vengeance on himself that same day, secretly cut off the hand that had scandalized him, and threw it away. In time the people began to murmur at the pope for not celebrating the divine mysteries as usual. Then Leo turned to the Blessed Virgin and committed himself totally to her care. She quickly appeared at his side and with her holy hands put back his hand and made it firm, ordering him to proceed as before and offer sacrifice to her Son. Leo therefore proclaimed to all the people what had happened to him, and showed the restored hand to everyone.

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