It is a scene itself worthy of a poem, or a painting. Leo, bishop of Rome, thirteenth of that name, now in the ninetieth year of his age, the fifty-seventh of his episcopacy, and the twenty second of his supreme pontificate,  looks out upon the world from his home or prison in Rome on the 31st December 1899. For decades now this old man, one of the wisest of our race, has striven to hold back the advance of antichrist by prayer and intelligence. As he looks back in sadness upon the nineteenth century and forward in trepidation upon the twentieth, his spirit is touched by some afflatus, and uniting his youthful learning to his long experience he composes an Alcaic poem, offering the world to its Saviour.

Notice these two stanzas:-

Auditis? effert impia conscius/ insanientis grex sapientiae; brutaeque naturae supremum/  nititur asseruisse numen.

Nostrae supernam gentis originem/  fastidit excors; dissociabilem,/  umbras inanes mente captans,/  stirpem hominum pecudumque miscet.

That is, ‘Hear ye? A guilty herd comes out with the godless things of a raving wisdom; it strives to establish the supreme divinity of brute nature. Foolishly it disdains the heavenly origin of our race; grasping at empty shadows it confuses the irreconcilable ancestry of men and of beasts.’

Though he doesn’t seem to have considered it opportune to condemn ex cathedra the idea of Adam’s body descending from a beast, Pope Leo clearly held it to be an idea belonging to the insane wisdom of this world.

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