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The Enchiridion of Pope Leo III

The Enchiridion of Pope Leo III

A collection of charms, cast in the form of prayers, that have nothing in common with those of the Roman Catholic Church. The Enchiridion is concerned chiefly with worldly, rather than spiritual, advantages. It is said to have been printed in Rome in 1523, and again in 1606. Its magical virtue rests on a supposed letter from Charlemagne to Pope Leo, in which the former states that since receiving the Enchiridion he has never ceased to be fortunate. However, no such letter appears to be in the Vatican library, where it was supposed to be lodged. The charms that the Enchiridion contains are supposed to be effectual against all the dangers to which human flesh is heirpoison, fire, wild beasts, and tempests.

When a copy of the book has been secured, it must be placed in a small bag of leather, carried on the person, and one page at least read daily. The reading must be done upon the knees with the face turned to the east, and works of piety must be performed in honor of the celestial spirits, whose influence it is desired to attract. The first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John is declared to be the most potent in the book. As for the symbols, they are mostly of Oriental origin.

The book also includes what are claimed as the mysterious prayers of Pope Leo III and certain conjurations of a semimagical character, including the seven mysterious orisons, which are merely clumsy imitations of the Roman ritual. From an extant edition of 1633, it seems unlikely that this book was the work of Pope Leo III and is more likely a compilation by a maker of grimoires (textbooks of black magic).


Waite, Arthur Edward. The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts Including the Mysteries of Goëtic Theurgy, Sorcery, and Infernal Necromancy. London: George Redway, 1898. Revised as The Book of Ceremonial Magic. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1961.

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