Baring-Gould’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Lucian, Priest Martyr of Antioch

Saint Lucian of Antioch in prison as depicted in a detail from the 11th century Menologian of Basil II; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(about 312)

[Commemorated on this day by the Latins, on the 15th October by the Greeks. This Saint Lucian is not to be confused with Saint Lucian of Beauvais, commemorated on January 8th. He is spoken of by Saint Jerome and Tbeodoret. Saint Chrysostom has a homily on Saint Lucian. Information concerning him is also obtained from the Greek Menasa, and from the Acts of his martyrdom in Metaphrastes.]

Saint Lucian was born at Samosata, in Syria; his parents were Christians, and sought above all things to educate their son in the fear of God. Both died and left him an orphan at the age of twelve, and the boy, in his desolation, distributed his goods to the poor, and took refuge with Macarius at Eaessa, who taught out of Holy Scripture the things concerning eternal life. Arrived at man’s estate, he was ordained priest, and opened a school at Antioch, and diligently laboured at procuring a correct version of the Holy Scriptures, by comparing together the different Hebrew copies. His version of the sacred writings was used by Saint Jerome, and proved of much assistance to him in his work of writing the Vulgate.

When Maximian persecuted the Church, Saint Lucian concealed himself, but was betrayed by a Sabellian priest into the hands of the persecutors; he was taken to Nicomedia, and brought before Maximian. On his way he was the means of recovering forty Christian soldiers, who had lapsed. In Nicomedia he was subjected to torture. His feet were placed in the stocks, which were distended, so as to dislocate his legs. His hands were fastened to a beam, which was above his head, and he was laid on sharp potsherds, so that his back was lacerated and pierced. After this, he was allowed to lie on his cell floor, unable to rise, on account of his legs being out of joint, and was starved to death. He lingered fourteen days. And when the feast of the Manifestation drew nigh, he desired greatly to receive the Holy Eucharist. When the fatal day had arrived, which was looked forward to, some of the disciples desired to receive from their master his last celebration of the divine mystery. But it seemed doubtful how they might bring a table into the prison, and how they might conceal it from the eyes of the impious. But when many of the disciples were assembled, and others were arriving, he said: “This breast of mine shall be the table, and I reckon it will not be less esteemed of God than one of inanimate material; and ye shall be a holy temple, standing round about me.” And thus it was accomplished, for because the saintly man was at the end of his life, the guards were negligent, and so God, as I think, to honour his martyr, removed all impediments to that being done which was proposed. For when all stood in close ring round the martyr, so that one standing by the other shut him completely from view, he ordered the symbols of the divine Sacrifice to be placed on his breast. After that he raised his eyes to heaven, and uttered the accustomed prayers. Then, when he had uttered many sacred prayers, and had done all the requisite acts in the sacred rite, he and the rest communicated, and he sent to those who were absent, as he himself shows in his last Epistle to them. Next day some officers came from the Emperor to see if he were still alive. And as he saw them standing about him, he said thrice, “I am a Christian,” and so saying, he died.

The body was then thrown into the sea, to the great grief of his disciples, who desired to bury it. But fifteen days after it was recovered. A legend says that a dolphin brought it ashore; be that as it may, it was found and was buried.

In art, Saint Lucian is sometimes represented with a chalice and Host, in allusion to his offering the holy Sacrifice in prison; sometimes with a dolphin at his side.

MLA Citation

  • Sabine Baring-Gould. “Saint Lucian, Priest Martyr of Antioch”. Lives of the Saints, 1897. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 August 2018. Web. 16 January 2019. <>