The Info List - Lucius Of Britain

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Lucius (Welsh: Lles ap Coel) is a legendary 2nd-century King of the Britons and saint traditionally credited with introducing Christianity into Britain. Lucius is first mentioned in a 6th-century version of the Liber Pontificalis, which says that he sent a letter to Pope Eleutherius asking to be made a Christian. The story became widespread after it was repeated in the 8th century by Bede, who added the detail that after Eleutherius granted Lucius' request, the Britons followed their king in conversion and maintained the Christian faith until the Diocletianic Persecution
Diocletianic Persecution
of 303. Later writers expanded the legend, giving accounts of missionary activity under Lucius and attributing to him the foundation of certain churches.[1] There is no contemporary evidence for a king of this name, and modern scholars believe that his appearance in the Liber Pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
is the result of a scribal error.[1] However, for centuries the story of this "first Christian king" was widely believed, especially in Britain, where it was considered an accurate account of Christianity among the early Britons. During the English Reformation, the Lucius story was used in polemics by both Catholics and Protestants; Catholics considered it evidence of papal supremacy from a very early date, while Protestants used it to bolster claims of the primacy of a British national church founded by the crown.[2]


1 Sources 2 Veneration in Chur 3 Notes 4 References 5 External links

Sources[edit] The first mention of Lucius and his letter to Eleutherius is in the Catalogus Felicianus, a version of the Liber Pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
created in the 6th century.[1] Why the story appears there has been a matter of debate. In 1868 Arthur West Haddan and William Stubbs
William Stubbs
suggested that it might have been pious fiction invented to support the efforts of missionaries in Britain in the time of Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick
and Palladius.[3] In 1904 Adolf von Harnack
Adolf von Harnack
proposed that there had been a scribal error in Liber Pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
with ‘Britanio' Britannia being written as an erroneous expansion for 'Britio' Birtha or Britium in what is now Turkey. The full name was 'Britio Edessenorum,' the citadel of Edessa, present day Şanlıurfa
in Turkey. The name of the King of Edessa
was Lucius Aelius Abgar. The English monk Bede
included the Lucius story in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, completed in 731. He may have heard it from a contemporary who had been to Rome, such as Nothhelm.[1] Bede adds the detail that Lucius' new faith was thereafter adopted by his people, who maintained it until the Diocletianic Persecution. Following Bede, versions of the Lucius story appeared in the 9th-century Historia Brittonum, and in 12th-century works such as Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, William of Malmesbury's Gesta pontificum Anglorum, and the Book of Llandaff.[1][4] The most influential of these accounts was Geoffrey's, which emphasizes Lucius' virtues and gives a detailed, if fanciful, account of the spread of Christianity during his reign.[5] In his version, Lucius is the son of the benevolent King Coilus and rules in the manner of his father.[6] Hearing of the miracles and good works performed by Christian disciples, he writes to Pope Eleutherius asking for assistance in his conversion. Eleutherius sends two missionaries, Fuganus and Duvianus, who baptise the king and establish a successful Christian order throughout Britain. They convert the commoners and flamens, turn pagan temples into churches, and establish dioceses and archdioceses where the flamens had previously held power.[6] The pope is pleased with their accomplishments, and Fuganus and Duvianus recruit another wave of missionaries to aid the cause.[7] Lucius responds by granting land and privileges to the Church. He dies without heir in AD 156, thereby weakening Roman influence in Britain.[8] Later traditions are mostly based on one of these accounts, probably including a medieval inscription at the church of St Peter-upon-Cornhill in Cornhill, London
Cornhill, London
in the City of London. There, he is credited with having founded the church in AD 179. Saint Lucius's feast day is on 3 December and he was canonized through the pre-congregational method. Veneration in Chur[edit] The legendary first bishop of Chur
and patron saint of the Grisons (Switzerland) was also named Lucius, with whom the British Lucius is not to be confused. It is possible, however[citation needed], that the mentioning of Saint Lucius of Britain
Lucius of Britain
in the Liber Pontificalis
Liber Pontificalis
soon led to a scholarly identification of the otherwise somewhat shapeless patron saint with his more prominent British namesake. His supposed relics are still kept in the cathedral of Chur, although there is little doubt among scholars that the bishopric was only established some 150 years after its alleged founder was martyred. Notes[edit]

^ a b c d e Smith, Alan (1979). "Lucius of Britain: Alleged King and Church Founder". Folklore. 90 (1): 29–36. doi:10.1080/0015587x.1979.9716121.  ^ Heal, Felicity (2005). "What can King Lucius do for you? The Reformation and the Early British Church". The English Historical Review. 120 (487): 593–614. doi:10.1093/ehr/cei122.  ^ Heal, p. 614. ^ Heal, p. 595. ^ Heal, p. 594. ^ a b Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 4, ch. 19. ^ Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 4, ch. 20. ^ Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 5, ch. 1.


Heal, Felicity (2005). "What can King Lucius do for you? The Reformation and the Early British Church". The English Historical Review. 120 (487): 593–614. doi:10.1093/ehr/cei122.  Smith, Alan (1979). "Lucius of Britain: Alleged King and Church Founder". Folklore. 90 (1): 29–36. doi:10.1080/0015587x.1979.9716121. 

External links[edit]

Alan Smith, 'Lucius of Britain: Alleged King and Church Founder', Folklore, Vol. 90, No. 1 (1979), pp. 29–36 Homer Nearing, Jr., Local Caesar Traditions in Britain, Speculum, Vol. 24, No. 2 (April 1949), pp. 218–227 Saint Lucius engraved by Leonhard Beck from the De Verda collection [1]

Legendary titles

Preceded by Coilus King of Britain Vacant Interregnum Title next held by Geta

v t e

Geoffrey of Monmouth


Prophetiae Merlini
Prophetiae Merlini
(c. 1135) Historia Regum Britanniae
Historia Regum Britanniae
(c. 1136) Vita Merlini (c. 1150)


Roman de Brut Layamon's Brut Brut y Brenhinedd


Aeneas Saint Alban Albanactus Alhfrith of Deira Allectus Ambrosius Aurelianus Amphibalus Andragius Archgallo Archmail King Arthur Arvirargus Ascanius Augustine of Canterbury Aurelius Conanus Bedivere Beldgabred Beli Mawr Belinus Bladud Bledric ap Custennin Bledudo Brennius Brutus Greenshield Brutus of Troy Budic II of Brittany Cadfan ap Iago Cadoc Cador Cadwaladr Cadwallon ap Cadfan Camber (legendary king) Cap of Britain Capetus Silvius Capoir Caracalla Caradocus Carausius Cassivellaunus Catellus Catigern Cherin Claudius Cledaucus Clotenus Coel Hen Coilus Conan Meriadoc Constans II (usurper) Constantine the Great Constantine III (Western Roman Emperor) Constantine (Briton) Constantius Chlorus Cordelia of Britain Corineus Cunedagius Cunobeline Danius Saint David Digueillus Diocletian Dionotus Dunvallo Molmutius Ebraucus Edadus Edern ap Nudd Edwin of Northumbria Eldol Eldol, Consul of Gloucester Elidurus Eliud Enniaunus Estrildis Eudaf Hen Ferrex Fulgenius Gawain Gerennus Goffar the Pict Gogmagog (folklore) Goneril Gorboduc Gorbonianus Gorlois Gracianus Municeps Guiderius Guinevere Guithelin Gurgintius Gurguit Barbtruc Gurgustius Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio Queen Gwendolen Helena (empress) Helenus Hengist and Horsa Hoel Humber the Hun Iago ap Beli Idvallo Igraine Ingenius of Britain Jago of Britain Julius and Aaron Julius Asclepiodotus Julius Caesar Sir Kay Keredic Kimarcus Kinarius Latinus Lavinia Leil Leir of Britain Locrinus King Lot Lucius of Britain Lucius Tiberius Lud son of Heli Maddan Maelgwn Gwynedd Magnus Maximus Mandubracius Queen Marcia Marganus Marganus II Marius of Britain Mempricius Merianus Merlin Millus Mordred Morgause Morvidus Myrddin Wyllt Nennius of Britain Octa of Kent Oenus Oswald of Northumbria Oswiu of Northumbria Owain mab Urien Penda of Mercia Peredur Peredurus Pir of the Britons Porrex I Porrex II Publius Septimius Geta Quintus Laberius Durus Redechius Redon of Britain Regan (King Lear) Rhydderch Hael Rience Rivallo Rud Hud Hudibras Runo Sawyl Penuchel Septimius Severus Silvius (mythology) Sisillius I Sisillius II Sisillius III Son of Gorbonianus Taliesin Tasciovanus Trahern Turnus Urianus Uther Pendragon Venissa Vespasian Vortigern Vortimer Vortiporius Wulfhere of Mercia Ywain Æthelberht of Kent Æthelfrith of Northumbria Œthelwald of Deira


Avalon Battle of Arfderydd Battle of Badon Battle of Camlann Battle of Guoloph Brut y Tywysogion Crocea Mors Excalibur Lailoken List of legendary kings of Britain List of legendary rulers of Cornwall Logres Matter of Britain Molmutine Laws Nennius Riothamus River Malvam Siege of Exeter (c. 630) Locations associated with Arthurian legend Treachery of the Long Knives Trinovantum Trojan genealogy of Nennius Walter of Oxford