Pope Leo XIII (2 March 1810 - 20 July 1903), born Count Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, was the 257th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903 in succession to Pope Pius IX. Reigning until the age of 93, he was the oldest pope, and had the third longest pontificate, behind Pius IX and John Paul II. He is known for intellectualism, the development of social teachings with his encyclical Rerum Novarum and his attempts to define the position of the Church with regard to modern thinking.
As soon as he was elected to the papacy, Leo XIII worked to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world. When he firmly re-asserted the scholastic doctrine that science and religion co-exist, he required the study of Thomas Aquinas and opened the Vatican Secret Archives to qualified researchers, among whom was the noted historian of the Papacy Ludwig von Pastor.
Leo XIII was the first Pope to come out strongly in favour of the French Republic, upsetting many French monarchists. In his relations with the Italian state, Leo XIII continued the Papacy's self-imposed incarceration in the Vatican stance, and continued to insist that Italian Catholics should not vote in Italian elections or hold elected office. In his first consistory in 1879 he elevated his older brother Giuseppe a cardinal.
Leo XIII was the first Pope of whom a sound recording was made. The recording can be found on a compact disc of Alessandro Moreschi's singing; a recording of his performance of the Ave Maria is available on the web. He was also the first Pope to be filmed on the motion picture camera. He was filmed by its inventor, W. K. Dickson, and blessed the camera afterward.
Leo XIII brought normalcy back to the Church after the tumultuous years of Pius IX. Leo's intellectual and diplomatic skills helped regain much of the prestige lost with the fall of the Papal States. He tried to reconcile the Church with the working class, particul...