(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

The Meeting between Leo the Great and Attila

Fresco, base: 750 cm
Stanza di Eliodoro, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

In the last episode of the Stanza di Eliodoro, Raphael returns to the symmetrical compositional type of the Stanza della Segnatura. The painting represents. Pope Leo the Great who, with the assistance of God, prevented the Huns from attacking Rome.

In AD 452 Pope Leo I managed to halt Attila the Hun, on his way to invade Rome, at the river Mincio near Mantua. The Eternal City was thus saved from destruction. In the fresco, Leo X, in the figure of his namesake, is riding with great dignityin the company of his retinue towards the Huns, who are galloping into the picture from the right. A mere wave of Leo's hand is enough to repel them.

The figure of the Pope on horseback is a portrait of Leo X. It was originally intended to represent Julius II, but the Della Rovere Pope died before the completion of the cycle, and his portrait was substituted by that of his successor. The scene is divided into two parts: at left the Pope and his attendants, poised and solemn, offer a gesture of peace to the Huns. Above them, Saints Peter and Paul brandish a sword. At right, Attila and his attendants, also on horseback, are frightened to death at the view of the two saints, whose figures are counterbalanced by an armed foot soldier. In the background are Rome and Mount Mario, on which a fire is blazing.

This episode is clearly more fragmentary and dispersive than the other frescoes of the cycle. Many critics attribute this weakness to the extensive participation of Raphael's pupils, led by Giulio Romano.