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POPE SAINT LUCIUS I

Pope Lucius I, born somewhere around 200 AD, rulled only 253 days, from June 25, 253 to March 5, 254. He was a Roman, but other than his father's name, Porphyrianus, we know nothing more about his family or background. It is assumed that he was a member of the clergy under Cornelius.

During the anti-Christian persecution of Gallus, the preceeding pope, Cornelius, was banished and died from his labors in the mines. Lucius was elected as the same persecutions continued. He, too, was banished to Civitavecchia, a port city, shortly after his election for refusing to cooperate with the state's mandated policy against Christian religion. He is accorded the title of "Confessor" for being banished although he was able to return, probably when Valerian became emperor, since he was rather friendly towards the Christians at first.

St. Cyprian sent Lucius several letters, one of congratulations on being elected and one a congratulations on being returned to his home:

"Beloved Brother, only a short time ago we offered you our congratulations, when in exalting you to govern His Church, God graciously bestowed upon you the twofold glory of confessor and bishop. 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."

This letter shows in what high esteem those of other parts of Christendom held the Bishop of Rome.

The most difficult part of this pope's time in office was probably the blossoming of the Novationist sect, which began around the time of Pope Cornelius' reign. This sect believed that serious sins, like adultery, blashemy and lapsing from the faith, were not forgiveable. The penitant had to wait for the Last Judgement and was no longer welcome in the Church. Both popes disagreed and felt that, after serious penance, those people could once again be welcomed into the Church. Just as St. Peter was given power to forgive or retain, so should other bishops. So was the reasoning. In a letter from Lucius, he was shown to agree that forgiveness was possible:

"For they, filled with the spirit of the Lord and confirmed in glorius martyrdom (ie, Cornelius), judged that pardon ought to be given to the Lapsi (fallen), and signified in their letters that, when those had done penance, they were not to be denied the enjoyment of communion and reconciliation."

It is not thought that Lucius was martyred, since Valerian was still friendly towards the Christians that spring. However he died, he was buried in the catacomb of St. Callixtus. There can still be found part of the stone which marked his gravesite, his name still readable. His remains were transferred to the church of San Silvestro in Capite in the 700s and later to the church of St. Cecelia in Trastevere. His skull was said to be brought to Denmark and chased away the demons. But carbon-14 dating showed it to be too recent an object to be his.

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