Tuesday 3 December 2013

Saint Lucius of Coire

Last year I posted a paper on a saint who has interested me ever since I first read about him on Father Ambrose's celt-saints list. December 3 is the feastday of Saint Lucius, 'the apostle of Coire', said to have been an early king of Britain who introduced Christianity to a region of Switzerland and who may have been martyred there. Last year's paper was originally published in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record in 1895 and the journal published a second paper in 1907 which I reproduce below. It is divided into four parts and thoroughly covers all the aspects of the story of Saint Lucius. The Irish interest in this saint may perhaps be explained by the tradition that he was a 'Scottish' king and by a link with Saint Fridolin, mentioned in the previous paper. A footnote in the paper recorded that 'The relics of St. Lucius are preserved and venerated in the Cathedral of Coire. Some years ago a fragment was detached from these relics and presented to the late Marquess of Bute, by whom it was conveyed to the Right Rev. John Cuthbert Hedley, D.D., O.S.B., Catholic Bishop of Newport, in whose possession it remains.' I wonder if these relics are still in the care of his successors?



THE nation of the Raeti, which had been gradually formed out of various tribal elements, lived, in the second century before Christ, in the Alps, within a district reaching from the Gotthard to the source of the Drave. Celts and Italici may be regarded as their chief constituents. Among the ancients Polybius was the first to mention their name. Raetian forms of local names are found throughout Switzerland. Everybody knows that a relationship between Raetians and Etruscans has more than once been advanced as a theory; the question is, however, still unsolved. The wild and warlike Alpine Raetians, according to Strabo, used to raid the neighbouring country, and thus excited the anger of the Romans. In any case that mountainous district formed so important a link between the Teutonic and Italian parts of the Roman Empire, that the Emperor Augustus found it necessary to conquer it, a task which was successfully accomplished by his stepsons in 15 B.C. Raetia became a Roman province, and was divided into Raetia Prima and Raetia Secunda, the latter containing Vindelicia also. The partial Italian origin of the Raetians may account for the faithfulness with which the needy inhabitants of the mountains, after their conquest, adhered to the Romans, as well as for their quick and thorough Romanization. The Raetian cohorts formed a valuable addition to the Roman legions. Repeated attacks by the Germans upon Raetia proved, soon after, how necessary and convenient a possession that country was for Italy. It remained Roman, even after Germany and Helvetia had been abandoned by the Romans. The political boundary between Raetia and Switzerland, fixed by the Romans, seems to have run from the Gotthard over the Marsh (on the Lake of Zurich) and thence to Pfin, in the Canton of Thurgau, up to the Lake of Constance.

As a meeting-point of various passes and high roads which, long before Christ, established communication between the transalpine North and Italy, via Raetia, the town of Coire was of high commercial and strategic importance; it is therefore very likely that the Romans, immediately after their victory over the inhabitants of that country, established there a secure military post. At the same time this place was chosen as the centre and seat of administration - hence the name Curia - for the surrounding valleys, and formed later on, in the third and fourth centuries, the most important barrier against the Germans. A governor appointed by the Emperor, and residing in Augsburg, was the administrator of the Raetian province, until, under Constantine, Eastern Switzerland was made subject to the vicariate of Northern Italy as Raetia prima. This connexion with Italy lasted from Graubüden (Grisons) beyond the destruction of the western Roman Empire. Theoderic, king of the Eastern Goths, took Upper Alemannia under his protection, after the defeat of the Alemanni near Zülpich, until Raetia became subject to the Merovingians between 536 and 539.

All this was of decisive importance for the advance of Christianity in these parts. For, first of all, early and intimate connexion with the South brought it about that a knowledge of the primitive Christian doctrine soon penetrated into Raetia. All writers who have studied the question are agreed on this point. It is said that St. Barnabas had already preached the Gospel at Milan, a town which was the terminus of the passes leading, via Como, from the Julier, Septimer, or Splügen. We know that the Church at Milan was flourishing as early as the second century, and that it influenced the neighbouring district far and wide. It is likewise certain that in the first century of our era, Christianity was preached on either side of the Po. According to modern investigations, the martyrs Saints Gervasius and Protasius, whose tombs were discovered by St. Ambrose, suffered death if not under Nero, yet at least in the second century. Eichhorn's opinion seems very plausible. He believes that some confessors of Christianity may have sought a place of refuge in the Raetian Alps from the persecution of Nero and Domitian, a course of action which had been previously adopted by the fugitive Etruscans. According to the history of the martyrdom of SS. Faustinus and Jovita, Italicus, Count of Raetia, had (in 118 A.D.) to exercise all his energy in order to stop the propagation of Christianity. In Upper Italy and Vindelicia several martyrs suffered under Diocletian and Maximianr so that it is not at all likely that Raetia alone would have remained cut off, like an island, from the Christian faith which surrounded it. Indeed, in the dim twilight of tradition and history, persons appear who lived and died for Christ within the diocese of the present hereditary electoral archbishopric. These features are outlined with various degrees of distinctness. We mention Evantus, Hermes, Fidelis and Gaudentius, the latter being possibly the person who prevented the Raeti from joining the heretical rival emperor, Eugenius.

It is therefore not unlikely that, from the second century, Christians were living in the Swiss portion of Raetia. Ecclesiastical organization, however, could not develop at the same rate of speed, for the physical features of the country, as well as its exposed political position, were against it. The history of the Bishops of Coire for which there is documentary evidence, places the beginning of that organization not earlier than the time of Asimo; in his name Bishop Abundantius of Como, in 452, signed the Acts of the Provincial Synod of Milan, that city being the metropolitan see to which Raetia belonged. Everything points to the fact that the foundation of the see of Coire dates back beyond the fifth century, and the preaching of the faith must have begun still earlier. For unless there was a bishop at Coire before 407, it would have been impossible to found a bishopric in the turbulent days of the first half of the fifth century.

St. Lucius is venerated by the Church of Coire as its apostle, and it is his existence and the veneration he received which make it appear very probable that the Church of Coire had its Bishop before the migration of the nations. We are disposed, therefore, to adopt the opinion, which considers it a characteristic feature, that ' after the migration of nations bishoprics were first erected again in those towns in which a bishopric had previously existed in Roman times.’


The oldest historical monument of this name is the 'Abbey of St. Lucius' (Lucien-Abtei) at Coire. It was built near though not actually over some Roman foundations, within which, in 1851, a fine and well-preserved mosaic was discovered. On the tombstone of Bishop St. Valentinian, which was found in the monastery of St. Lucius, was written the date of the death of this holy bishop, whose life had been devoted to the welfare of his diocese. According to tradition he founded the Monastery of St. Lucius, where he was buried at his request. It was possibly the attraction exercised by the sacred body of Lucius which gave the first impulse to St. Fridolin to come to Coire and to found there the Church of St. Hilary, not far from the Monastery of St. Lucius. In the same way in which St. Valentine, a worthy companion of St. Severinus, consoled the Raeti in troubled times, so, in days not less melancholy, did Valentinian become a blessing to his people, till death overtook him in 548. Hence it is clear that the monastery was founded, at the latest, in the first half of the sixth century. Graubünden had, about that time, become Frankish. Lucius therefore was evidently, even at that time, regarded by the people of Coire as their chief apostle, and the usual opinion may be quite correct which refers the origin of the local names 'Luciensteig' (the path of St. Lucius) and 'Lucienlochlein’ (the little cave of St. Lucius) to those days. These names presuppose local traditions, which, indeed, still exist. Over the Luciensteig the Saint journeyed to the district of Coire, and lived in a cave at the Mitenberg (also called Curhalde), about twenty minutes' walk from the present seminary. A rather stony and steep path leads up to it. The grotto is formed by an overhanging rock. Where the latter forms a kind of niche above the cave St. Lucius is said to have preached towards the valley which lies open here from Coire to Reichenau, and to have been miraculously heard at that distance. By the side of the cave there is now a chapel, where ' the spring of St. Lucius ' still flows, and the waters are believed to be effectual as a cure for blindness. Five or six steps onwards to the left marks, as if made by the cut of a sword, are seen on the rock, and by them some impressions of fingers appear. Tradition says that here the Saint grasped the rock, when the pagans suddenly attacked him with murderous intent; their swords struck the rock to the right and left of him, but without injury to himself. The Saint is said also to have been cast down from the summit of a castle called Marsiöl, without being hurt.

Another legend related locally about St. Lucius is found, first in Thomas Lyrer's narrative of the fifteenth century. He says:

Long ago, about A.D. 80, there was sent one Lucius, a native king of Scotland, dwelling at the Art, and in the mountains, and he built his cell and church at a place which still bears his name. And when he was building, a bear killed his ox. Thereupon he harnessed the bear instead of the ox, and the bear had to do the carting as the ox had done before. And many other miracles, which are now forgotten, were wrought by the good St. Lucius. And at the same Art there were Christian people who were then converted by St. Lucius.

Ulrich Campell relates a similar story from popular tradition, with the addition that the people of Trimmis acquired their goitres as a punishment for an injury done to the Saint.

However, we have a more important document of the old tradition about the Apostle of Raetia. In the library of St. Gall a list of books of the ninth century exists, which contains a Vita S. Lucii confessoris. This codex is still preserved, and is marked No. 567. We have here, therefore, the source from which Notker compiled his Martyrology. Possibly a Vita S. Lucii was brought to St. Gall from Graubünden before that time by St. Ottmar. The value of this manuscript in the Collectaneus No. 567 is the greater, as it was written with reference to the celebration of the feast of St. Lucius at Coire, as one may easily see from the beginning of the document. The following are the main features of the narrative.

St. Paul the Apostle resided in Rome for two years, without being able to do much for the souls of the perverse Jews and Greeks. He therefore turned away from them, and sent his disciple Timotheus to Gaul. The latter came to Bordoel (Burdigala ?), a town by the sea, and was encouraged by some Gallic king to cross over to that part of Britain where King Lucius was reigning. The consequence was that King Lucius was converted, and resolved to leave his country. The royal apostle travelled through Gaul to Augusta Vindelica, whose inhabitants were still pagan. One of them, Campester, a patrician, accepted the teaching of the Gospel, and his example was followed by many of the other citizens. But when Lucius heard that Raetia was still, to a great extent, adhering to paganism, he could not resist the inclination to go there, and he set out for the district of Coire. By seven days' prayer and fasting he prepared himself for the preaching of the Gospel, and, on the eighth day, he began to preach Christ crucified. At that time he was told that, in a certain wood called the ‘Forest of Mars’ young bisons were being kept and worshipped as gods. Lucius went there and converted most of the pagans; but some became enraged, threw him into a pit, and were about to stone him. The converted pagans, however, who had been accompanying the Saint, perceiving this evil intention, joined together in order to kill the heathen. While the two parties were fighting, the Saint came forth unhurt out of the pit, preached still more powerfully, and made peace. And as if through divine intervention, the wild animals about which the whole affray had taken place, gently approached the Saint and licked his feet, so that he began to praise the Lord and to admonish the astonished pagans to be baptized. They, on their part, gave glory to God, because He had led them to a knowledge of the truth. In the meantime the miracle became known in the town itself, and the Christians who had remained behind came to meet the holy man, chanting and carrying torches and thuribles with incense.

Here the story of the narrative ends, and he now turns to the moral and exhortative aspect of the subject, and is altogether silent about the rest of the Saint's life.

Local names, traditional folklore, the written legend the latter going back beyond the year 1000 and the fact of the existence of the Monastery of St. Lucius in the sixth century, are not the only testimonies cited by the Church of Coire on behalf of her apostle; she is able also to prove that she possessed his mortal remains before the year 821. In 821 Bishop Victor complained, in his letter to Louis the Pious, that not even the most sacred body of the holy confessor and apostle Lucius, had remained safe from the wicked robbers Roderick and Herloin.

The evidence collected so far certainly entitles us to maintain the existence of a Raetian apostle, Lucius, whose identity with the British King, Lucius, should not be altogether rejected. Until now it was generally believed that this identification had been caused by St. Bede's remarks on this subject. The passage about King Lucius in the Sermo in Natali 55. Virginum XI milium, which was possibly written before 850, cannot with certainty be ascribed to Bede, so that we cannot admit the assertion that parts of the legend of Coire were certainly borrowed from Bede. He, however, gives a list of Emperors, and the author of the Sermo as one of the Popes, among whom Pope Marcellinus (who is not mentioned at all by Bede) is represented as intimately connected with the narrative. But even if the Sermo should have been borrowed from Bede, that fact would not be sufficient to prove that the Lucius legend of Coire is derived from the same Anglo-Saxon source.

This legend is quite independent in another respect, viz., with regard to the fact that the author ascribes the conversion of St. Lucius to a disciple of the Apostles, St. Timothy. This circumstance has contantly been maintained by legendary testimony. Bartholomaeus Tridentinus, in the thirteenth century, bases his work entirely on the narrative of the oldest Vita, and he was followed by Petrus de Natalibus, in the fourteenth century. In answer to a question put by Vadian of St. Gall, the parish priest of the Cathedral of Coire, Comander, informed him about a statement found in an old book of parchment, that Timothy converted Lucius. All these narratives represent Lucius merely as a confessor, not as a martyr, although occasionally he suffered ill-treatment. The Calendarium of Zurich of the tenth century contains on the date of the 3rd December: In Curia depositio Lucii conf. The codex of St. Gall, No. 566 (of the monastic library), has the following words on the 3rd December, in the Calendarium used at St. Gall in the ninth century: Lucii confessoris. The Calendarium of the oldest ' book of the seasons ' of Coire has on the same day: Lucii regis et conf.

The fact that the above-mentioned Timothy is called ' a disciple of St. Paul,' induced the learned Notker, almost of necessity, to doubt the British descent of Lucius of Coire; for he knew Bede's passage about King Lucius of Britain, who was an adherent of the Christian religion under Pope Eleutherius and the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Cornmodus (161-193), and, on the other hand, he did not find either of the two Lucii in Ado's work, which he used as a basis for his Martyrology. His doubt is indicated by the way in which he writes in the Martyrology. He also omitted, in his narrative, to give St. Timothy the title of 'disciple of the Apostles,' although he must have been fully aware of the fact that this title is given in the legend, since the latter already existed at that time at St. Gall; he therefore calls St. Timothy by a general and indefinite term, virum sanctum. His doubt, however, is not sufficiently warranted.

It is not necessary to assume that the disciple of St. Paul, Timothy, was the one from Asia Minor; but, as Usher, Moncuass, and others have supposed, he may have been the Roman Timothy who was so intimately connected with the house of the Senator Pudens that Pudens who gave hospitality to the Apostles Peter and Paul, whose mother was St. Priscilla, famous on account of her cemetery, and whose daughters, Pudentiana and Praxedes, noble-minded virgins, acquired immortal merit in connexion with the young Christian community at Rome. The results of archaeological research are altogether favourable to this old Roman tradition. Already under Pope Symmachus (498-514), there existed among the titular churches of Rome that of St. Praxedes (Praxidae), an ancient basilica on the Clivus Suburbanus of the Esquiline, and the Titulus Pudentis, called also the Basilica of St. Pudentiana, or of Pastor, between the Limina and Esquiline, the oldest titular church of Rome, once held by the Swiss Cardinal Schinner. Here we find mosaics (Christ between SS. Peter and Paul, and the two sisters Praxedes and Pudentiana) whose pure style reminds us of the better periods of Roman art, which may belong to the fourth, or even to the third century.

According to the Vita S. Pudentianae, which is given by the Bollandists on the 19th of May, Pudens, the son of Punicus and Priscilla, was converted by St. Paul. His parents married him to Savinilla, by whom he had two daughters, Pudentiana and Praxedes. Close relations existed between that family and Novatus, of whose Thermae, his heiress, Praxedes, obtained consecration as a church by Pope Pius I. And, after Praxedes had died, at an early age, Pastor, the brother of Pope Pius I, sent a narrative, viz., the above-mentioned Vita, to the priest, Timothy a friend or near relative of the senator's family, whose place of residence, however, is not mentioned. Here also Pastor calls this Timothy a 'disciple of St. Paul.' This alleged discovery of Pastor cannot be genuine; it must, however, be fairly ancient. Ado seems to make use of this account in his Martyrology on the 19th of May, for he calls the wife of the Senator Pudens (the mother of Pudentiana and Praxedes) Sabinella.

The relation between Novatus and Timothy is more definitely mentioned in the so-called Martyrologium Parvum of Ado, which was compiled, according to De Rossi, by an unknown author at the end of the seventh or at the beginning of the eighth century at Rome, from various narratives and lists varying in historical value. Here we find on the 20th June: Romae Novati fratris Timothei presbyteri qui ab apostoles eruditi sunt.

Besides, the Thermae of Novatus, situated near the palace of Pudens, are sometimes called after Novatus, sometimes after Timothy. Justin Martyr, according to a not improbable account, had a house near the Thermae of Timothy. It must be mentioned, however, that Mazochius here defends a different reading of the text.

The relations of Novatus and Timothy to the Senator Pudens are definitely stated in the new Roman Martyrology, which speaks of them as if they were two sons.

Just as the family of the senator whose sella currulis, according to tradition became the Cathedra Petri, receives here two sons in addition, so also is another wife assigned, viz., Claudia. It is in this sense that the passage in the Second Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy (iv. 21) is interpreted: Eubulus and Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren salute thee. This Claudia is considered to be the wife of the senator, because, according to the poet Martial, who came to Rome under Nero and returned 95 B.C. to his Celtiberian native town Bilbilis, the rich and noble Roman Pudens married a beautiful British lady named Claudia.

If, as is supposed by Usher, Moncaeus and Lingard, the Pudens of Martial, and the one mentioned in the Epistle of St. Paul are the same person, it apppears most natural to assume that he had two wives, the first of whom was Claudia, by whom he had the sons Novatus and Timothy (the latter possibly being called so through friendship with the Lycaonian Timothy). Claudia may have died soon, whereupon he married Savinilla, who bore him the two daughters mentioned above. In the Vita S. Pudentianae also, Novatus and Timothy are presupposed to be the older children. If our theory is right, they must have attained to a great age, since they lived until the time of Pope Pius I and St. Justin Martyr, who died 166. According to a letter (considered to be spurious) from Pope Pius I to Justus or Verus, Bishop of Vienne, a certain Timothy (and Marcus), who had been instructed by the Apostles, died during his Pontificate.

The chief reason why we have dwelt in so detailed a manner upon the family of the Senator Pudens, lies in the fact that in this way we obtain some hint as to the first attempts at preaching the Gospel in Great Britain. If Claudia was the wife of Pudens,and of British descent, she must have desired that the doctrine of salvation should be preached in her native island. Besides this, it is maintained by De Rossi that Lucina, the noble benefactress of the Christians, was no less a person than Pomponia Graecina, who, according to Tacitus, was devoted to the ' new superstition' and whose husband was Platius, who conquered Britain. He also indicates that Lucina was sprung from the race of the Cornelii Aemilii or Caecilii, of whom the Cornelii were a side branch. Vicus Corneliorum was another name of the Vicus Pairictus, where Pudens lived.

On the strength of indications like these, it will not be rash to think it possible that the priest Timothy, who was so closely connected with these distinguished circles of early Christian Rome, may have been active for some time, in Britain, and these family relations, in turn, shed a most significant light upon the fact that the British prince who was baptized by him received the name Lucius. Neither was this name unknown in those circles at Rome. For instance, Lucius was the name of the Christian who, immediately before Justin Martyr, reproached Rusticus for his injustice. Tertullian made an allusion to a distinguished Christian of the same name. Pope Lucius was buried in the cemetery of Callistus, the property of the Caecilians.

Of course the conversion and baptism of the British King Lucius, through the presbyter Timothy, would have to be assigned to the time when the prince was very young, and the request addressed to Pope Eleutherius must have taken place after the death of Timothy. Furthermore, the relations that existed between Lucius and Timothy, and through Timothy between Lucius and the two brothers Pius and Pastor of Aquileian descent makes it clear why later on Lucius should have chosen Raetia for his missionary enterprise. Neither must we omit the fact that the excellent Martyrology of Hieronymus of Metz (Autun), preserved at Berne, commemorates, on the 21st May, the feast of a holy Deacon Timothy in Britain, who is to be numbered among the oldest saints of this island and of whom otherwise nothing is known except the name. But the very name is here significant, as we are trying to prove that a certain Timothy from Rome, a disciple of the Apostles, preached in Britain during the first half of the second century.

Besides this, it should be remembered that Bede is not consistent as to the date at which Lucius made his request for missionaries. Sometimes he puts it after the death of Commodus, sometimes in the year 156, during the reign of Verus and his brother Aurelius, under the pontificate of Eleutherius, and in the Epitome the date given is 167, while Nennius prefers the year 164, and calls the Pope Eucharistus (Evaristus) .

According to this view the oldest Vita S. Lucii and Bede's account would not exclude each other, nor would the one part have been borrowed from the other (this was done for the first time by Notker), but they complete each other like the two halves of a broken ring, and what appears at first sight to be a contradiction is harmoniously solved on accurate investigation.

It is believed that the source has been discovered from which Bede takes his statement about Lucius of Britain. Father Henschen, S.J., published two very ancient lists of Popes in the first volume of the Acta Sanctorum, which deals with April. The first and more ancient catalogue contains 18 Popes, from Peter to Urban (c. 353); the second comes down to 530, and is unanimously assigned to the sixth century. In the second list, although not in the first one, the following remark is added to the name of Eleutherius: Hic accepit epistolam a Lucio Britanniae rege ut Christianus efficeretur per eius mandatum. In the ninth century Anastasius embodied this remark in his Vita Pontificum. It is assumed that Bede, also, took his information from this second list; the fact that he did not attain to perfect accuracy in the matter of chronology is quite easy to understand, since even now we do not know all the fundamental data.

In any case it is certain that the above-mentioned list of Popes, belonging to the sixth century, is at present the oldest source of information about the Christian King Lucius; and as it was a Roman source, some authors have gone so far as to maintain that it was simply 'a Roman fiction’ urging that Gildas is silent about it, and that its non-British origin betrays itself through the fact that Lucius is called Britanniarum rex. These authors add that this fable must have been invented, after the arrival of the Roman missionary Augustine, in order to make the British more favourable to Rome.

We, on the other hand, believe, that a historian goes beyond the limits of what is lawful, if he has recourse, unnecessarily, to hypothetical statements, especially if they are supported only by very weak reasoning. Gregory the Great and the men who surrounded him, as well as the missionaries sent to England, are of so high and venerable a character, that they should not be rashly accused of concocting fables.

If we wish for an explanation of the manner in which the remark about King Lucius found its way into the sixth century list, we shall find far more plausible reasons in the traditions of Raetia. Can anything be more reasonable than to look for information to that country, in which there was a fully established episcopal see, where a monastery dedicated to St. Lucius was in existence, where his holy body rested, where a whole nation with its history vouched for the tradition, where constant intercourse with Italy and Rome was going on, where, even now, monuments valuable for the art-history of the sixth and seventh centuries are met with? And although the oldest legend does not actually say anything about Pope Eleutherius, nevertheless it should be borne in mind that many more things are not mentioned, which we should like to know, concerning King Lucius. Moreover, the fact that it was Eleutherius to whom the king sent his request may easily have been arrived at by the Roman chronicler.


The traditions of Wales follow the legend which attributes the introduction of Christianity there to Joseph of Arimathea. They also give a detailed account of the kings who were converted to the Christian faith, founded churches and endowed them with lands and privileges. Especially King Lless, or Lleirwg (Lucius), is said to have founded the first church in Llandaff, A.D. 180, and to have placed there the first bishop.

Bede and Nennius, whatever their sources of information may have been, adopted the accounts of Lucius in their works, and, later on, the unreliable Geoffrey of Monmouth enriched them with several additions. He says that the Pope sent two men of zealous faith, whose names were Faganus and Duvian (other authorities write Faganus and Digamus) or some such names. Lucius, after many meritorious deeds, died at Gloucester, where he was buried. For a long time Bede remained the chief source of information for the Anglo-Saxon historians, and he was copied by most of the later ones, e.g., by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle begun in Alfred's time, by Ethelweard who died after 974, and by Henry of Huntingdon, about the middle of the twelfth century. None of them mention the names of the missionaries. The first to mention them is Geoffrey of Monmouth, who died 1154, and the Book of Llandaff, which likewise originated in the twelfth century; but they do not agree, since the Book of Llandaff calls them Elvan and Medwin. The present Proprium of Coire, following Geoffrey, calls them Damianus and Fugatius, names already given by Petrus de Natalibus in the fourteenth century. The Proprium, like Geoffrey, calls the father of Lucius, 'Coilus.' On the other hand, in a Bull of Indulgences granted by Bishop John of Coire (who died March 25, 1386), it is said that Lucius, King of Anglia, Equitania, and Britania, received the Gospel from St. Timothy, and that the latter was a disciple of St. Paul. We see, therefore, that at that period Geoffrey's writings had not yet gained influence, and it was not a very safe proceeding, about 1646, to borrow from him (by the way, he also embellished the legend of St. Ursula with traditions) the first part of the legend of St. Lucius, for the purpose of inserting it into the Proprium Sanctorum in Coire, and to call him 'Martyr' in opposition to the oldest accounts. His death is stated to have occurred about 182.

If we suppose that Timothy, the son of Pudens, was born in the year 60, he would have been able to baptize the young Lucius in Britain in the year 120. Later on, when of age, Lucius took a deep interest in the conversion of his subjects, and asked that missionaries should be sent from Rome. The date of his death falls between the years 182 and 201.

The facts that the British accounts know nothing of a missionary journey of their Lucius, and that the often ill informed Geoffrey makes him live and die in Britain, are not, at least at the present time, sufficient to disprove the identity of Lucius of Coire with Lucius of Britain. Firstly, concerning his tomb, we refer the reader to the quotations from Beatus. And secondly, is it not conceivable that the Counts Roderick and Herloin should have sold bones of saints to be sent to England, for large sums of money, so that only a portion of the relics was restored to Coire ? We may add that we have another reason for believing in a connexion existing between Lucius and Rastia, viz., the fact that Roman soldiers were stationed there.

If we could see our way to accept, as genuine, a certain document which we shall mention presently, there could no longer be any doubt about the identity of Lucius of Raeti and Lucius of Britain.

It is recorded that during Elizabeth's reign, a Latin inscription, on stone, was discovered in some old English church and copied. A copy of this inscription, so the record continues, made on parchment, was issued and attested on the 9th of December, 1845, by the University of London, and taken to Coire, August, 1852, by Count Peter Salis-Soglio. This document is preserved in the cathedral of that town. Looking more closely at it, however, we find that it is a copy not of an inscription, but of a fragment of William Darell’s History of Dover Castle. According to this there reigned in Britain about the first century of the Christian era a prince Arviragus, who was succeeded by his son Marius, and Marius again by his son Coilus. Coilus was deprived of his independence by the Romans, but his son Lucius compensated for this by gaining the liberty of the children of God. 'Lucius, the first Christian King, reigned in the year 156.' In 161 he built a church in Dover Castle, and had three priests stationed there. Having no children, he was obliged to accede to the wishes of the people and hand over his kingdom to the Emperor Severus. The text does not say clearly whether Lucius retained the government of his kingdom till his death, or whether he abdicated during his life-time and then left the country. The passage runs as follows: ' Hic [Lucius] tanta pietate princeps, cujus cogitationes ad amplificandam Christi gloriam erant positae, quod sine prole discesserat, Severum Rom. imperatorem, universe populo sic jubente, successorem designavit.' The Schematismus of Coire for 1863 translates these words as follows: ' This prince, who was endowed with great piety, left his kingdom to spread the honour of God.' However, the word discesserat may refer to death, and his 'thoughts concerning the propagation of the glory of Christ' may have been directed merely towards Britain. In any case, it is surprising that the learned commentator on Nennius and Bede, does not mention the inscription in the Monumenta Hist. Britannia at all, although it must have been known to him, if it existed. William Darell did not omit to depict the coats-of-arms of King Marius and King Lucius, and even of the Emperor Severus (193-211)!

In the meantime we cannot accept this ' document ' as trustworthy. The author of the Schematismus believes that the church where the slab with the inscription was discovered was that of Dover; the document itself says nothing on this point.


Closely connected with the veneration of St. Lucius at Coire is that of his sister Emerita, who is said to have imitated the zeal of her royal brother, and to have gone to the same country. She was finally tortured and burnt by the rude pagan inhabitants at Trimmis, near Coire.

A short time ago an attempt was made to get rid of this saint, by pointing out another Emerita, who is said to have suffered at Trimontium in Scotland, the two being confused together in consequence of the similarity of the names of the places of their martyrdom. ' A certain Emerita suffered at a place of similar name in Scotland; the name was mistaken for Trimmis near Coire. Hence the two became confused together.'

We have tried to find mention of this Scottish Emerita of Trimontium in some reliable account, but, so far, without success. She is not mentioned in any Martyrology, and we believe that Usher, an authority in these matters, is right in maintaining that Philippus Ferrari, who mentions her in his list, was misled by Dempster, a most untrustworthy person in matters concerning Scotland.

The village of Trimmis near Coire, with which the legend and the veneration of Emerita and Lucius are connected, was called Trimuna in the year 958, and once in a document belonging to the same century Trimons. The Catholic parish church there is dedicated to St. Carpophorus, whose feast is kept on the 7th of August while the Protestants use a chapel dedicated to St. Emerita. This chapel seems to have been dependent at one time on the church of St. Carpophorus, or it may have been attached to the Castle. The Capella S. Carpofori, in Trimune vico was presented, in 948, by King Otto I to the mother church of Coire. There is no such early testimony extant with regard to the chapel of St. Emerita, nor is it mentioned in the oldest legend of St. Lucius. The feast of St. Emerita is placed on the 4th December in a necrology of Coire,belonging to the twelfth or thirteenth century, and to the same period belongs the statement that the Dedicatio Ecclesiae S. Carpofori in vico Trimanis falls on the 19th October.

In the meantime it seems that we are safe in retaining St. Emerita as a local saint of Coire. It is possible that she, together with her brother Lucius, who may have been a British chieftain, laboured in the neighbourhood of Coire for the propagation of the Christian faith after the middle of the second century, faithfully and courageously submitting at last to a cruel martyrdom.

Lastly, we may add a few words on SS. Valentine and Antony. The assertion that St. Valentine devoted his life to missionary work among the inhabitants of the Alps (as bishop of the district), during the troubled first two decades of the fifth century, is supported by the fact that, in those mountainous districts, he is still gratefully remembered by the inhabitants. In the diocese of Coire, alone, eleven churches were dedicated to him. He was also mentioned as one of the patron saints in the old document dealing with the dedication of the parish church of Schwiz. In the list of relics of the Minster of Lucerne, of the year 1460, some relics of St. Valentine are mentioned.

A little later St. Antony flourished in the district called Valtellin, where he settled near the tomb of the holy martyr Felix, probably not without influencing the inhabitants of the northern parts of the country. His life was ended in the monastery of Lerins, and was chronicled by Ennodius.

Since writing the above I have had occasion to review a small pamphlet by Professor Adolph Harnack, in the English Historical Review, in which Dr. Harnack makes it appear that all the accounts of Lucius were derived from the Liber Pontificalis, but that the entry in that work was possibly due to the mistake of a transcriber, who converted the word Britis, which related to a town in Edessa, into the word Britannis, which is the curious form taken by this proper noun in the Liber Pontificalis.


Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. 22 (1907), 457-474.

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Unknown said...


I am a Roman Catholic. I am interested in Saints in the First Millenia who have Bears in their stories. Saint Lucius [c.200] has led me to you. I want to find out more details about his Bear story.

In addition, Saint Columbanus [died c.615], Saint Gall [died c.630], companion of Saint Columbanus, and Saint Magnus [died c.666], disciple of Saint Gall also have Bears in their stories. Columbanus and Gall were Irish. I am not sure about Magnus. I am looking for primary source material or as early of sources that I can. If you are aware of any others that have Bears in their stories, I would appreciate you pointing me in the right direction.

Thank you. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Gerald D. Hodge, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)
Founder & CEO, Appalachia Georgia Friends of the Bears, Inc.
P.O. Box 2326
Ellijay, Georgia 30540

Marcella said...

Please check your inbox as I have emailed a response giving some suggestions. Greetings from Ireland and best wishes from Ireland to everyone at the Friends of the Bears!

Unknown said...


Good Monday morning from Appalachia Georgia! Thank you so much! I did received your e-mail and I sent a reply.

Thank you! Please let me know if you have any questions.


Gerald D. Hodge, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)