Pope Leo XIII was responsible for ushering the Catholic Church into the 20th Century. His papacy ran from Feb. 20, 1878 to July 20, 1903. When he died at age 93, he became the oldest pope ever to serve the Catholic Church.
He was the first pope to make an audio recording in 1896. He sang the Hail Mary in Latin, and this recording is still available on You Tube. He was also the first pope to appear on film.
Many of the devotions that Pope Leo XIII solidified are still currently popular. For instance, he became known as the “Rosary Pope” because he wrote eleven encyclicals on it. He was the first to embrace Mary as Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix. Pope Leo XIII also consecrated the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 11, 1899. He promoted First Friday devotions. He made great efforts to promote the coexistence of religion and science. He emphasized reconciling the Church and the impoverished working class, which helped restore the Church to mainstream European life.
Pope Leo XIII’s association with the Holy Face shares roots with the establishment of the Priests of the Holy Face Religious Institute, which was canonically erected by Archbishop Charles-Théodore Colet in Tours, France, on Dec. 8, 1876. The primary work of the Holy Face Priests was attending to the Oratory of the Holy Face (a site of veneration for the Holy Face and subsequent miracles), which began in Venerable Leo DuPont’s drawing room. Pope Leo XIII took notice of the numerous miracles associated with the veneration of His Holy Face by Leo DuPont. Pope Leo XIII wanted to establish a similar oratory in Rome, and it was opened in 1891.
Meanwhile, in 1885, Pope Leo XII approved the Scapular of the Holy Face, which was also known as The Veronica. It should be noted that today’s Holy Face medal replaces the scapular due to the convenience/durability with which the medal can be worn around the neck. Pope Leo XIII also elevated the Priests of the Holy Face to an Archconfraternity for the entire world. This was partly in response to the numerous miracles associated with the veneration of His Holy Face by Leo DuPont. One of the most famous members of this Archconfraternity was St. Therese of Lisieux.
While the Roman Oratory of the Holy Face was eventually demolished in redevelopment, the Oratory of the Holy Face still exists in Tours, France. It’s site has changed from Leo DuPont’s drawing room to its permanent facility at 8 rue Bernard Palissy, Tours, France. It remains a holy pilgrimage site to this day.