St Lucius I


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(25 June 253–5 Mar. 254)

A Roman by birth (according to LP), he was banished from the capital by the persecuting emperor Gallus (251–3) almost immediately after being elected. His place of exile is not known, but he was soon able to make his way back with numerous Christians exiled with him, since the newly proclaimed emperor, Valerian (253–60), was at first favourably disposed towards Christians. On his return he received an enthusiastic letter from Cyprian, the influential bishop of Carthage, congratulating him on his willing suffering for the faith, and suggesting that perhaps God had recalled him so that he might undergo actual martyrdom in the midst of his flock. Virtually nothing is directly known about his activities, but one of Cyprian's letters implies that, in dealing with Christians who had apostatized during persecution, he maintained Cornelius' policy of restoring them to communion after suitable penance. He therefore made no concessions to Antipope Novatian and his adherents, who were still active during his reign. It is further reported that he received a letter from Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria on the validity of baptism by heretics, a subject which was to be much debated during his successor's reign. Despite LP's report that he was martyred by beheading, the earlier tradition of the 4th-century Liberian Catalogue suggests that he died a natural death. He was interred in the papal crypt in the cemetery of Callistus, where a portion of the epitaph on his tomb, in Greek letters, has been recovered. Feast 5 Mar.

Further Reading

Cyprian, Epp. 61 and 68Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 7. 2, 7. 10. 3LP i, pp. xcvi–xcviii, ccxlviii, 6 f. (Liberian Cat.), 66–9; 153 (Davis 1: 10, 99)P. F. de' Cavaliere, ‘La persecuzione di Gallo in Roma’, ST33 (1920), 181–210Caspar i. 70DTC ix. 1056 f. (É. Amann)EThC 93 (G. Schwaiger)NCE viii. 846 (E. G. Weltin)

Subjects: Christianity.

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