#22 - Pope St. Lucius
Saturday, October 19, 2019
Pope from 253-254 A.D.
Died: 254 A.D.
Pronounced LOOSH-uss or LOOS-ee-uss
Give me the scoop on Lucius I.
St. Lucius I was the odds-on pick after St. Cornelius was exiled and martyred in 253. He was a Roman priest prior to his election, and almost immediately after taking the Chair of Peter, Lucius was also exiled. The exile, thanks be to God, wasn’t permanent. Presumably after Valerian became the Roman emperor, Lucius was allowed back to Rome to guide his growing flock. In fact, a letter written to Lucius from St. Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, still exists today wishing congratulations and showing (to us) the high esteem in which the Bishop of Rome was held by the faithful:
“Again we congratulate you, your companions, and the whole congregation, in that, owing to the kind and mighty protection of our Lord, He has led you back with praise and glory to His own, so that the flock can again receive its shepherd, the ship her pilot, and the people a director to govern them and to show openly that it was God's disposition that He permitted your banishment, not that the bishop who had been expelled should be deprived of his Church, but rather that he might return to his Church with greater authority.” (emphasis added)
Lucius reigned a mere eight months before dying in office. No one can be certain whether or not he was a martyr, but his feast day is celebrated on March 4.
What was he known for?
Lucius was no doctrinal slouch. Like St. Cornelius before him, we know from a letter addressed to Pope Stephen from St. Cyprian, Lucius upheld the wishes of his predecessor by allowing those Lapsi (people who had fallen away from the Church) to reconcile themselves after confession and penance. This continued to fly in the face of Novatian, the antipope, who kept up his “No take-backs, partner” stance throughout Lucius’ pontificate as well.
Fun fact: Part of Danish folklore claimed that the skull of St. Lucius I was moved to Denmark, since the demons there feared nothing except his skull (I mean, obviously). Though Lucius was declared patron of Zealand, and a skull believed to be that of Lucius was moved to the region in 1100, carbon dating proved that the skull dated to the 4th century, nearly 100 years after Lucius’ death.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
The “Crisis of the Third Century” was suffered through by the Roman Empire, as it became surrounded (literally) on all sides by opposing forces.