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Pope Leo III

Pope Leo III

795 - 816

Deaconesses held a respected place in the Roman church community

Pope Leo III's election to the papacy was opposed by a faction in the Roman nobility. This was because they held that the papacy should be reserved to members of noble families - Leo cam from a humble backrgound - but also because the Popes, including Leo, turned to Charlemagne for protection. In April 799 he was attacked by a gang only to be saved by soldiers of a Frisian army. Leo was formally deposed by his opponents and sent to a monastery, but escaped and made his way to Paderborn, where he met Charlemagne. Charlemagne sent him back to Rome with an armed escort. The opponents were exiled and the Pope was welcomed back at the end of 799.

Source: Liber pontificalis: Vita Leonis III (Duchesne, vol. 2, p. 6)  

Qui Romani prae nimio gaudio suum recipientes pastorem, omnes generaliter in vigilias beati Andreae apostoli, tam proceres clericorum cum omnibus clericis quamque optimates et senatus cunctaque militia, et universo populo Romano cum sanctimonialibus et diaconissis et nobilissimis matronis seu universis feminis simul etiam et cuncte scole peregrinorum, videlicet Francorum, Frisonorum, Saxonorum atque Langobardorum, simul omnes conexi, ad pontem Molvium, cum signis et vandis, canticis spiritalibus susceperunt et in ecclesia beati Petri apostoli eum deduxerunt, ubi et missarum solemnia celebravit et omnes pariter corpus et sanguinem Domini nostri Jesu Christi fideliter participati sunt.

And these Roman citizens welcomed their pastor [= Pope Leo III] with great joy, all together on the vigil of the feast of the blessed Apostle Andrew, both prominent clerics and all other clerics, as well as [lay] officials, members of the senate and the army, et all the people of Rome with the nuns, deaconesses, et most noble matrons and all women, not fogetting also the groups of foreigners, namely: Franks, Frisians, Saxons and Longobards, all of them as one crowd met him [Pope Leo III] at the Mylvian bridge and conducted him, with flags and banners, and [singing] spiritual songs to the church of the blessed Apostle Peter.

He celebrated a solemn Mass there and all faithfully partook of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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