saint lucius of britain
king lucius (middle) from the east window in york minster
- roman catholic church
- eastern orthodox church
|major shrine||cathedral of chur|
|patronage||liechtenstein; diocese of vaduz; diocese of chur|
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 of 303. later writers expanded the legend, giving accounts of missionary activity under lucius and attributing to him the foundation of certain churches.
there is no contemporary evidence for a king of this name, and modern scholars believe that his appearance in the liber pontificalis is the result of a scribal error. 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.