'Blessed is poverty': Leo the Great on almsgiving

Bronwen Neil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The author focuses on seven homilies in which Leo the Great (440-461) makes use of the Matthean Beatitudes to comment on proper attitudes towards wealth and poverty, referring to three verses in particular: (Matt 5:3, 6-7). The author examines how these verses from Matt 5 were interpreted to provide the wealthy with a self-interested reason for giving to the poor. The questions put to the texts include the following: Does Leo interpret the scripture verses in accordance with their original purpose? Does the bishop recommend direct or indirect giving to the poor, i.e. via the church or via individual benefactions? Does he discriminate between "deserving" and "non-deserving" poor? What categories of poor does he identify and does this suggest a personal connection of the bishop to poor individuals? Finally, what kind of social vision did Leo propose, and how did he define his own role as bishop in fulfilling that vision?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalSacris Erudiri
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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