Bishop Iker at the Tomb of Leo the Great
  Tomb of Leo the Great  

In April Bishop Iker made a pilgrimage to Rome to mark the 13th anniversary of his consecration on April 24, 1993. He is seen here at the Vatican, praying for the clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth at the tomb of his patron saint, Leo the Great. The tomb, over which can be seen the altar dedicated to St. Leo, is located in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Thanks to the intercession of the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Bishop Iker was included in a papal audience in St. Peter’s Square. Also during his visit, Bishop Iker called on Cardinal Bernard Law at the cardinal’s residence in Rome.


Of the life of Leo the Great (c. 400-461 A.D.), Lesser Feasts and Fasts says in part,

Leo received a good education and … won considerable respect for his abilities. A contemporary of his, Cassian, described him as “the ornament of the Roman Church and the divine ministry.”

In 440 Leo was unanimously elected Pope, despite the fact that he was absent at the time on a mission in Gaul. His ability as a preacher shows clearly in the 96 sermons still extant … Leo’s letter to the Council of Chalcedon in 451 dealt so effectively with the doctrine of the human and divine natures of the One Person of Christ that the assembled bishops declared, “Peter has spoken by Leo.”

Leo refuted heresies in both the East and the West during his 21-year pontificate and insisted on high standards of character and holy living among deacons, priests, and bishops.

When the Huns had sacked Milan and were headed for Rome, with the Emperor Valentinian III in hiding, panic spread through the capital city. Leo led a negotiating party consisting of a consul, a governor, and a group of priests to meet Attila on the banks of the Po. He persuaded Attila to accept a yearly tribute in exchange for not sacking Rome, and the Huns were turned back. Three years later, Leo faced Genseric, leader of the Vandals, and prevented the burning of the city and slaughter of its inhabitants.

Only one other pope – Gregory I – has been called “the Great.”