(3 Jan. 936–13 July 939)
The successor of John XI, he owed his elevation to Alberic II, prince of Rome, patrician and senator of all the Romans, who ruled the city with absolute control from 932 to 954. Nothing is known of his background except that he was a Roman by birth, cardinal priest of S. Sisto, and in all probability a monk; this last fact may have recommended him to the prince, who was devout and deeply interested in monasticism and monastic reform. Although restricted by Alberic to ecclesiastical functions, he was active, with his full support, in fostering monastic revival. At the beginning of his reign the great reforming abbot Odo of Cluny (878/9–942) was invited to Rome, and at the pope's request negotiated a fragile settlement between Alberic and King Hugh of Italy (926–48), who since his expulsion from Rome in 932 had been making persistent efforts to regain control of the city. While there, Odo was entrusted with the reform of religious houses in Rome and its neighbourhood, beginning with that of St Paul's basilica. In the same year Leo renewed the privileges of the restored abbey at Subiaco, 80 km east of Rome, site of the grotto of St Benedict (c. 480–c. 550), and in Jan. 938 those granted by his predecessor to Cluny and Déols. Later he extended similar privileges to the revived abbey of Gorze (near Metz), the pioneer of a somewhat different reforming movement in Lorraine.
In 937 or thereabouts Leo sent the pallium to Adaldag, archbishop of Bremen–Hamburg, and appointed Archbishop Frederick of Mainz apostolic vicar and legate for all Germany, entrusting him with a comprehensive programme for the much-needed reform of clergy of all grades, and encouraging him to expel Jews who refused to be baptized. The contemporary chronicler Flodoard of Reims (d. 966), who visited and dined with him in 936, formed a highly favourable impression of his character, wisdom, and personal warmth.
LP ii. 244JW i. 455–7, ii. 706ZPR 46–60PL 132: 1065–88NA 10 (1885), 380–86 (letters)Flodoard, De Chr. trium. 12. 7 (PL 135: 832)DBI lxiv. 504–6 (A. Piazzoni)DTC ix. 316 f. (É. Amann)Mann iv. 205–7Levillain i: 922–3 (H. Zimmermann)NCE viii. 484 (O. J. Blum)Z2: 88–90, 114Partner 84–6