Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII was born Gioacchino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi on March 2, 1810, in Carpineto and died on July 20, 1903, in Rome. Young Raffaele was sent at age eight to study at the Jesuit school at Viterbo, where he attained a doctorate of theology in 1832 and was ordained a priest on December 31, 1837.

In January 1843 he was appointed papal nuncio (diplomat) to Brussells, Belgium, and elevated to archbishop of Damiata, Belgium, on February 19, 1843. He worked with the Belgium royalty to establish Catholic schools in Belgium, a controversial move for both parties.

Later, Raffaele was made bishop of Perugia. He was made a cardinal by Pope Pius IX, appointed camerlengo (head of the papal household) in August 1877, and then elected pope in 1878. As pope, he was active in diplomatic circles by courting relationships with France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and the nations of South America.

Pope Leo XIII strained relations between the Holy See and Great Britain by restoring the Scottish hierarchy of the church, declaring all Anglican ordinations invalid, and elevating John Henry Newman, a convert from Anglicanism, to the cardinalate.

Within the church, he resolved the schism with the Armenian Church and strengthened the Ruthenian Church. He established national colleges within Vatican City, expanded the holdings and services of the Vatican library and secret archives, and built the Vatican Observatory.

He wrote encyclicals against Americanism, Freemasonry, and socialism, and for devotions to the rosary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His landmark encyclical Rerum novarum set out Catholic principles on the economic relationship between labor and capital.