Spirituality for Today – June 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 11

The Twenty-Second Pope

Saint Lucius I

Photo of an illustration of Saint Lucius I the twenty-second popePope St. Lucius I (253-254) – Being the Bishop of Rome was never an easy position to hold. The popes reigning in the early centuries of the Church had to depend on the whims of the emperor in order to determine if they would be able to administer the Church in peace or persecution. In his very short reign as pope, Pope Lucius experienced the vagaries of dealing with the imperial court. Pope Lucius barely had enough time to accept congratulations for being elected pope before being exiled by emperor Gallus. Those who have boarded a cruise ship from the port of Rome are familiar with its name, Civitavecchia. In ancient times it was called Centumcellae and may have been Pope Lucius' place of exile. His predecessor had been exiled at that site. A change of emperors brought a change of fortune. The emperor Valerian was well disposed toward the Christians and Pope Lucius and some exiled companions returned to Rome.

Apparently, Pope Lucius followed the conciliatory approach of his predecessor toward the lapsi – those who lapsed from the faith during the persecutions and now wished to return to the Church. In letters sent to the new pope, Bishop Cyprian of Carthage suggests that the pope held a moderate stance regarding this issue.

Pope Lucius was viewed as a "confessor." This title was given to individuals who suffered for the faith, but did not endure a martyr's death. The burial site for Pope Lucius is in the cemetery of Callistus in Rome.

Habemus papam