medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Lucius I, pope (d. 254). Perhaps a native of Rome (the _Liber Pontificalis_ says he was), Lucius succeeded pope St. Cornelius in June of 253. The ongoing but apparently highly selective persecution under the emperors Trebonianus Gallus and Volusian forced him into an immediate exile severe enough for St. Cyprian of Carthage, in one of his letters to Lucius, to call him a martyr. Upon the accession of the emperor Valerian in August of the same year Lucius returned to the Eternal City. He seems to have followed his predecessor's policy of readmitting, after a penance, Christians who had apostasized during the recent persecution.
Despite the assertion of the _Liber Pontificalis_ that Lucius suffered martyrdom by beheading, his absence from the _Depositio martyrum_ of the Chronographer of 354 (which latter, lacunose though it is, does record martyred bishops of Rome), his entry in the same source's _Depositio episcoporum_ (confessor bishops), and the fact that the edicts underlying the Valerianic persecution postdate Lucius' passing by several years conduce to the belief, enunciated by the Roman Martyrology in its revision of 2001, that this pope died a confessor.
Lucius was buried in the so-called crypt of the popes in the Cemetery of Callistus. A portion of the brief identifying inscription at his resting place bearing his name (Loukis, in Greek as were all the burial inscriptions in this chamber) was found during de Rossi's excavation of this chamber in the later nineteenth century. Note "a portion": when the Wikipedia article quoted by Matt says "His tombstone is still extant in the catacomb of Callixtus" it utters a palpable falsehood by implying the stone's preservation in its entirety. Lucius' entry in the old _Catholic Encyclopedia_ <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09411a.htm> (available online for free and thus accessible even by authors of Wikipedia articles) observes "On the excavation of the vault, de Rossi found a large fragment of the original epitaph, which only gives the pope's name in Greek: LOUKIS. The slab is broken off just behind the word, so that in all probability there was nothing else on it except the title EPISKOPOS." In the plate at right shown here from J. Spencer Northcote, _Roma Sotterranea, or An Account of the Roman Catacombs, Especially of the Cemetery of St. Callixtus, Compiled from the Works of Commendatore De Rossi_ (London, 1879; digitally available on the free web at archive.org), after p. 296, the fragment of Lucius' grave slab is reproduced at left in the second row from the bottom:
That it is only a fragment seems apparent from its irregular outlines. For De Rossi's reconstruction of the crypt with its grave slabs intact see:
In 821 Paschal I translated Lucius to his newly renovated Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Lucius' relics are still there except for his head, said to have been translated to Denmark in about 1100 and to have been placed in Roskilde's then wooden cathedral. Lucius, who was believed to have died a martyr, became the diocese of Roskilde's patron saint; when the present (ex-)cathedral, the Roskilde Domkirke, was built starting in the late twelfth century it was dedicated to him. Here's Lucius as depicted on what is said to be the cathedral's oldest surviving seal:
TAN: What is believed to be Lucius' head now reposes in this early twentieth-century reliquary bust (1910) in Roskilde's Roman Catholic cathedral of St. Ansgar:
But wait! There's another in the Residenz in Munich:
Perhaps one of these was Lucius' head when he was younger.
Until the rearrangement of the Roman Calendar promulgated in 1969 Lucius' feast day fell on 4. March, the day on which he occurs in the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology. The present date of his commemoration is that of his laying to rest as given in the aforementioned _Depositio episcoporum_ and in the so-called Liberian Catalogue (another fourth-century list preserved by the Chronographer of 354).
(matter from an older post revised and expanded)
On 03/04/15, Matt Heintzelman wrote:
> “His tombstone is still extant in the catacomb of Callixtus. His relics were later brought to the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, along with the relics of St. Cecilia and others. His head is preserved in a reliquary in St. Ansgar's Cathedral in Copenhagen, Denmark. This relic was brought to Roskilde around the year 1100, after St. Lucius had been declared patron of the Danish region Zealand. There had been demons at large at the Isefjord at Roskilde city, and as they declared that they feared nothing but Lucius' skull, this had to be brought to Denmark, whereupon peace took reign of the fjord again. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Lucius_I)
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