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Leo metropolitan of Sicily (tenth/eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1050
Diameter 21 mm
Condition Blank too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 10.1.
Laurent, Corpus V/1, no. 888.


Bust of saint blessing and holding a book. (Laurent identified him as St. Nicholas, but the lettering is too uncertain). Vertical inscription at left: Ο|Α|Γ.|.|.: Ὁ ἅγιος ....? Traces of circular inscription. No visible border.

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of five lines, decoration below. No visible border.


Λέοντι ἐλαχίστῳ μιτροπολίτι Σηκελίας


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Λέοντι ἐλαχίστῳ μιτροπολίτι Σηκελίας.

Lord, help your servant Leo, most humble metropolitan of Sicily.


Laurent dated this seal to the tenth century and attributed it to the metropolitan Leo attested in 926/7 (Falkenhausen, Dominazione, 103, no. 69). Yet the lettering of this seal points to a later date, around the turn of the eleventh century (cf. Dated Seals, nos. 56, 59, 60, 61, as opposed to nos. 70, 72, 73, etc.). Although the see of Syracuse never disappeared from the notitiae episcopatuum, it is possible that appointments to it were scarce (if not non-existent); but appointments to Sicilian sees were being made in spite of the Arab domination over the island: see, e.g., the last known metropolitan of Catania, Leo, who attended the synod in 997 (Falkenhausen, Dominazione, 161). One may wonder whether the Leo of our seal was identical to this metropolitan of Catania rather than an unknown metropolitan of Syracuse. But there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the title of "metropolitan of Sicily" may have been used for any prelate other than the metropolitan of Syracuse.

Syracuse (modern Siracusa) is located in eastern Sicily. Initially seat of a bishop subordinate to Rome, it was attached to Constantinople in the eighth century and elevated by the patriarch to the rank of archbishopric, then of metropolis (of Sicily) around the year 800. See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 691.