God Terrifies Attila the Hun
|One of the most perplexing puzzles of Christianity and world history is what happened at the meeting of Attila, king of the Huns, and Pope Leo I in AD 452, which persuaded Attila not to attack and destroy Rome and to give up killing the Christians. Modern history books do not answer this question.|
The answer can be found in the famous codex Illustrated Chronicle of Mark Kalt which presents the origins and history of the Huns and Magyars (Hungarians), two tribes. This codex was written in Latin between AD 1358 and 1370 and its full title is: Chronicon pictum, Marci de Kalt, Chronica de gestis Hungarorum, that is Illustrated Chronicle, Mark Kalt’s Chronicle About the Deeds of the Hungarians (see one of its pages in the picture).
This codex is a historical and literary masterpiece, wonderfully illustrated with miniatures, and contains the most complete text of Gesta Hungarorum (The Deeds of the Hungarians). It is one of the most trustworthy documents on early Hungarian history, and it is presently stored in the National Széchényi Library in Budapest. The codex was translated into Hungarian in 1857 and 1959 respectively.
According to the codex, when Attila and Pope Leo met, the fierce king was frightened by a peculiar supernatural event. See below for prior events and details.
The codex says that the Huns and Magyars (Hungarians) arrived in Scythia from the region of Meotis (Sea of Azov), near Persia. “The region of Scythia lies in Europe, and reaches to the east. On one side it is bordered by the North Sea, on the other by the mountains of Rifeus, on the eastern side by Asia, and on the western side by the River Ethel, i.e. Don … It is said that Scythia is 360 miles long and 190 miles wide” (Chapter 6). The Huns killed and expelled the Russniaks living there.
In AD 373 the Huns set off to the west from Scythia to conquer new territories. They reached the River Tisza in today’s Hungary and settled there. In AD 400 they made Attila, the son of Bendeguz, their king, who called himself the Terror of the World and the Scourge of God. Attila’s dark pagan beliefs can be seen from the following passage: “It happened one day, as he was walking round the town—many magicians were with him, and he trusted them exceedingly because of his superstitious beliefs…” (Chapter 15)
Attila’s repeated victories can be attributed to his military power. This is what Mark Kalt writes: “He had ten thousand chariots furnished with scythes and all kinds of battle equipment; he used these to destroy cities and camps… Besides foreigners, his army consisted of one million soldiers, so that whenever a Scythian fell, another one could take his place. His people had mainly leather shields, but they also used shields made of various metals. They had bows, spears and wore swords on their belts. King Attila had an emblem on his shield resembling a crowned fowl” (Chapter 11).
Attila’s headquarters were on the western bank of the Danube, in today’s Buda, part of Budapest. The codex calls this city Sicambria and it is the same as the Roman city of Aquincum.
This merciless king caused terrible destruction across Europe. He conquered, destroyed and burned down cities; he overcame the Romans, Goths, Dacians, Normans, Lithuanians, Russniaks, the army of king Sigismund at Basel, etc. He put Sultan Miramammona to flight, who fled from the city of Seville to Morocco. Because of him the inhabitants of Pannonia, Pamphylia, Phrygia, Macedonia and Dalmatia left their homeland and moved across the Adriatic Sea to Apulia. He killed his own brother Buda as well.
The Huns brutally murdered Saint Ursula, the daughter of the British king, along with eleven virgins in Cologne. They would probably have inflicted a terrible blow on Christianity, had a miraculous divine intervention not deterred Attila from this, as presented in Chapter 17:
„17. After he destroyed the city of Aquileia, he laid Concordia in Friuli to waste. Afterwards he moved into the Lombard duchy, and extended his dominion over Treviso, Padova, Verona, Brescia, Cremona, Mantua, Pergamo, Milano, Alexandria, Ferrara and other cities of that region. Then he approached Ravenna, where the Arian archbishop had appointed twelve cardinals from his congregation against the will of the Christian leaders, successors of the apostles. The archbishop had many treasures. He let the Huns into the town without the citizens’ knowledge, and had them kill the true Christians who were more powerful in the city than him. He promised King Attila that he could conquer all of Italy, the city of Rome and Africa without effort and cost, if he joined the Arians and persecuted Christians. Attila readily agreed, but he was more interested in power than religion. The Romans understood that this posed a great danger to Christians. They turned to Leo (The Great) for help, requesting him to meet Attila and ask him in the name of the Romans to accept their tribute and service as long as he lives, that is Attila.
Meanwhile, Attila sent his army to Apulia and appointed Soard from the tribe of Soard as captain, who plundered Apulia, Terra di Lavoro, Calabria, up to the city of Reggio and Catania—which, as the tradition holds, had been founded by the wise Cato—, and returned with aboundant booty.
Pope Leo arrived to Ravenna with a multitude of priests and crosses to meet Attila. They negotiated on horseback in the field. King Attila listened to the promises and the words of the Romans; he reluctantly granted their requests out of respect for the apostles’ successor and because he was frightened by a vision. Namely, when the king looked up, he beheld a man hovering in the air, holding a sword in his hand and grinding his teeth, who threatened him that he would chop off his head. So Attila obeyed the Romans’ request and released the apostle’s successor. Then the king entered Ravenna and captured the Arian archbishop and his followers, as the pope had advised him. Attila extorted sixty thousand golden marks from him and his accomplices, then killed them, and returned to Pannonia with all his army.—He had already subdued the South, the West, the North and the East and he was contemplating to cross the sea and conquer Egypt, Assyria and Africa.”
The Arians—heretics, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ (like today’s Unitarians)— were basically subverting Christianity under the disguise of the same religion. The early Church Fathers had continually fought against their false teachings.
The man-like form Attila saw in the air holding a sword in his hand, was probably an angel, as in similar biblical accounts. Thus, divine intervention—a miracle— had frightened the fearless Attila away from persecuting Christians, who most likely would have suffered too great a blow.
In the Vatican there’s a fresco painted by Raphael between 1512–1514, entitled The Meeting between Leo the Great and Attila. It depicts sword-wielding angels driving off Attila. This and similar interventions of God in human history were once widely known, but today they are surrounded by silence.
Attila died shortly after this incident, in AD 453, in a manner not worthy of a great war-lord. He died at night in his sleep: “his nose started bleeding, and since he was sleeping on his back, the blood flew down his throat, clotted there and suffocated him” (Chapter 18). A miraculous thing happened at his death: “On the night when Attila died in Sicambria, Emperor Marcian, who at that time was in Constantinople, saw Attila’s bow broken in his sleep. He understood from this that Attila had died” (Chapter 24).
The Hun’s unity disintegrated, primarily due to the enemy’s plotting, and “after Attila’s death his sons and the Huns were slaughtering each other.” The few who were left returned to Scythia.
|Early Christian Churches in Aquileia, Northeastern Italy, Built Before the Town Was Destroyed by Attila in AD 452|
|The remains of an early Christian church in the Early Christian Museum, the Museo Paleocristiano.||Mosaic floor from the apse of an early Christian church reconstructed in the Early Christian Museum.|
|The Basilica in Aquileia, built on the remains of an early Christian church burnt to the ground by Attila the Hun in AD 452. The famous council of AD 381 was held in that early Christian church.||The 4th century mosaic floor of the basilica is the largest known paleo-Christian mosaic floor in Western Europe, measuring about 760 square meters.|
|The symbolic fishing scene of the mosaic floor. The fish represent unbelievers listening to the Gospel, while the fishermen stand for the Christians who are saving lost souls.||The excavation site of the early Christian church beneath the basilica.|