Lucius I, Pope, St.

views updated


Pontificate: June or July 253 to March 5, 254. With his predecessor Pope cornelius, Lucius was banished from Rome to Civitavecchia by the Emperor Gallus. Valerian (253260) soon succeeded Gallus, however, and allowed Lucius to return to Rome. Cyprian of Carthage (Epistolae 61) salutes him as "dearest brother" and praises him as an honored confessor. Cyprian expressed his regret that the pope had not died a martyr and his hope that this might yet happen, but Lucius apparently died a natural death.

Nothing is known of his pontificate. The liber pontificalis ascribes to him an order that two priests and three deacons should abide with the bishop as constant witnesses of his conduct, but this source also contains an apocryphal account of his martyrdom. Cyprian (Epistolae 6.88) states that Lucius maintained the liberal policy of his predecessor with regard to the lapsi of the Decian persecution, despite the continued opposition of the Novatianists (see novatian and novatianism), a schismatic group, to the policy by which lapsi were to be readmitted into the church after a suitable penance.

Lucius was buried in the cemetery of Callistus where a portion of his epitaph has been recovered. He is the first bishop whose death is recorded in the Depositio episcoporum (on March 5), thus attesting to the commemoration of Roman bishops that was then being celebrated along with that of other heroic Christians, such as the martyrs.

Feast: March 4.

Bibliography: eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 7:2. duchesne, Liber pontificalis, 1:xcvi-xcviii, ccxlviii, 6669, 153. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 190350) 9.1:105657. g. schwaiger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 6:1176. e. ferguson, ed., Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (New York 1997) 2:698. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 1920.

[e. g. weltin]