Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Lucian, Priest and Martyr
From his panegyric by St. Chrysostom, at Antioch, in 387, and pronounced on his festival, T. 2. p. 524. As also from St. Jerom de Script. c. 77. Eusebius, l. 8. c. 12. l. 9. c. 6., and Rufinus. See Tillemont, T. 5. p. 474. Pagi, an. 311.
ST. LUCIAN, surnamed of Antioch, was born at Samosata, in Syria. He lost his parents whilst very young; and being come to the possession of his estate, which was very considerable, he distributed all among the poor. He became a great proficient in rhetoric and philosophy, and applied himself to the study of the holy scriptures under one Macarius at Edessa. Convinced of the obligation annexed to the character of priesthood, which was that of devoting himself entirely to the service of God and the good of his neighbour, he did not content himself with inculcating the practice of virtue both by word and example; he also undertook to purge the scriptures, that is, both the Old and New Testament, from the several faults that had crept into them, either by reason of the inaccuracy of transcribers, or the malice of heretics. Some are of opinion, that as to the Old Testament, he only revised it, by comparing different editions of the Septuagint: others contend, that he corrected it upon the Hebrew text, being well versed in that language. Certain, however, it is that St. Lucians edition of the scriptures was much esteemed, and was of great use to St. Jerom.1
St. Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, says, that Lucian remained some years separated from the Catholic communion,2 at Antioch, under three successive bishops, namely, Domnus, Timæus, and Cyril. If it was for too much favouring Paul of Samosata, condemned at Antioch in the year 269, he must have been deceived, for want of a sufficient penetration into the impiety of that dissembling heretic. It is certain, at least, that he died in the Catholic communion; which also appears from a fragment of a letter written by him to the church of Antioch, and still extant in the Alexandrian Chronicle. Though a priest of Antioch, we find him at Nicomedia, in the year 303, when Dioclesian first published his edicts against the Christians. He there suffered a long imprisonment for the faith; for the Paschal Chronicle quotes these words from a letter which he wrote out of his dungeon to Antioch: All the martyrs salute you. I inform you that the pope Anthimus (bishop of Nicomedia) has finished his course of martyrdom. This happened in 303. Yet Eusebius informs us, that St. Lucian did not arrive himself at the crown of martyrdom till after the death of St. Peter of Alexandria, in 311, so that he seems to have continued nine years in prison. At length he was brought before the governor, or, as the acts intimate, the emperor himself, for the word3 which Eusebius uses, may imply either. On his trial, he presented to the judge an excellent apology for the Christian faith. Being remanded to prison, an order was given that no food should be allowed him; but, when almost dead with hunger, dainty meats that had been offered to idols, were set before him, which he would not touch. It was not in itself unlawful to eat of such meats, as St. Paul teaches, except where it would give scandal to the weak, or when it was exacted as an action of idolatrous superstition, as was the case here. Being brought a second time before the tribunal, he would give no other answer to all the questions put to him, but this: I am a Christian. He repeated the same whilst on the rack, and he finished his glorious course in prison, either by famine, or according to St. Chrysostom, by the sword. His acts relate many of his miracles, with other, particulars; as that, when bound and chained down on his back in prison, he consecrated the divine mysteries upon his own breast, and communicated the faithful that were present: this we also read in Philostorgius,4 the Arian historian. St. Lucian suffered at Nicomedia, where Maximinus II. resided.
His body was interred at Drepanum, in Bithynia, which, in honour of him, Constantine the Great soon after made a large city, which he exempted from all taxes, and honoured with the name of Helenopolis, from his mother. St. Lucian was crowned in 312, on the 7th of January, on which day his festival was kept at Antioch immediately after his death, as appears from St. Chrysostom.5 It is the tradition of the church of Arles, that the body of St. Lucian was sent out of the East to Charlemagne, who built a church under his invocation at Arles, in which his relics are preserved.6
The first thing that is necessary in the service of God, is earnestly to search his holy will, by devoutly reading, listening to, and meditating on his eternal truths. This will set the divine law in a clear and full light, and conduct us by unerring rules, to discover and accomplish every duty. It will awake and continually increase a necessary tenderness of conscience, which will add light and life to its convictions, oblige us to a more careful trial and examination of all our actions, keep us not only from evil, but from every appearance of it, render us steadfast and immovable in every virtuous practice, and always preserve a quick and nice sense of good and evil. For this reason, the word of God is called in holy scripture, Light, because it distinguisheth between good and evil, and, like a lamp, manifesteth the path which we are to choose, and disperseth that mist with which the subtlety of our enemy and the lusts of our heart have covered it. At the same time, a daily repetition of contrition and compunction washes off the stains which we discover in our souls, and strongly incites us, by the fervour and fruitfulness of our following life, to repair the sloth and barrenness of the past. Prayer must be made our main assistant in every step of this spiritual progress. We must pray that God would enable us to search out and discover our own hearts, and reform whatever is amiss in them. If we do this sincerely, God will undoubtedly grant our requests; will lay open to us all our defects and infirmities, and, showing us how far short we come of the perfection of true holiness of life, will not suffer any latent corruptions in our affections to continue undiscovered, nor permit us to forget the stains and ruins which the sins of our life past have left behind them.
Note 1. St. Hier. Catal. Vir. illustr. c. 77. Ep. 107. et Præf. in Paralip. Item Synopsis ap. St. Athan, ad fin. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, commonly called of the seventy, was made by the Jews living at Alexandria, and used by all the Hellenist Jews. This version of the Pentateuch appeared about two hundred and eighty-five years before Christ, according to Dr. Hody, (de Bibliorum Textibus, Original. et Versionibus, p. 570, &c.) that of the other parts somewhat later, and at different times, as the style seems to prove. The Jews even of Palestine at first gloried in this translation, as Philo testifies; but it being employed by the Christians against them, they began soon after the beginning of the second century to condemn it, alleging that it was not always conformable to the Hebrew original. This text had then suffered several alterations by the blunders, and, according to Kennicott, some few by the wilful malice of transcribers; though these differences are chiefly ascribed by Origen to alterations of the Hebrew text, introduced after the version was made. The seventy being exploded by the Jews, three new versions were set on foot amongst them. The first was formed in 129, by Aquila, of Synope, in Pontus, whom the Emperor Adrian, when he built Jerusalem, under the name of Ælia, appointed overseer of that undertaking. He had been baptized; but for his conduct being expelled from amongst the Christians, became a Jew, and gave his new translation out of hatred to the Christians. A second was published about the year 175, by Theodotion, a native of Ephesus, some time a Christian, but a disciple first of the heretic Tatian, then of Marcion. At length he fell into Judaism, or at least connected obedience to the Ritual Law of Moses with a certain belief in Christ. His translation, which made its appearance in the reign of Commodus, was bolder than that of Aquila. The third version was framed about the year 200, by Symmachus, who having been first a Samaritan, afterwards, upon some disgust, turned Jew. In this translation he had a double view of thwarting both the Jews and Christians. St. Jerom extols the elegance of his style; but says he walked in the steps of Theodotion; with the two former translators, he substituted [Greek] for [Greek] in the famous prophecy of Isaiah, (c. vii. v. 14.) and in that of Jacob, (Gen. xlix. 10.) [Greek] for [Greek]. Both which falsifications St. Justin Martyr charges upon Aquila, (Dial. cum Tryphon. p. 224. 284. 395. ed. Thirlbii.) and St. Irenæus reproaches Aquila and Theodotion with the former, (p. 253, ed. Grabe.) Many additions from these versions, and several various readings daily creeping into the copies of the seventy, which were transcribed, to apply a remedy to this danger, Origen, compiled his Hexapla, &c. of which see some account in the appendix to April 21. Before the year 300 three other corrected editions of the old Greek version were published, the first by Lucian, the second by Hesychius, and the third by Pamphilus the martyr. The first was made use of in the churches, from Constantinople to Antioch; that of Hesychius was received at Alexandria, and in the rest of Egypt; and the third in the intermediate country of Palestine, as we are informed by St. Jerom, (Præf. in Paralip. et Præf. in Explic. Daniel.) The edition of Lucian came nearest to the [Greek], or common edition of the seventy, and was the purest, as St. Jerom (ep. ad Suniam et Fretel. T. 2. col. 627.) and Euthymius affirm, and is generally allowed by modern critics, says Mr. Kennicott, (diss. 2. p. 397.) The excellent Vatican MS. of the seventy, published (though with some amendments from other MSS.) by Cardinal Carafa, at the command of Sixtus V. in 1587, is said in the preface to have been written before the year 390; but Blanchini (Vindiciæ, vet. Cod. p. 34.) supposes it somewhat later. It is proved from St. Jeroms letter to Sunia and Fretela, and several instances, that this Vatican MS. comes nearest to the [Greek], and to Lucians edition, as Grabe, (see Annot. in ep. ad Sun. et Fretel. T. 2. col. 671.) Blanchini, (Vindiciæ, p. 256.) and Kennicott (diss. 2. p. 416.) take notice: the old Alexandrian MS. kept in the British Museum at London, is thought by Grabe to have been written about the year 396; by Mills and Western, (in their Prologom. in Nov. Test. Gr.) about one hundred years later. It was published by Grabe, though not pure; for in some places he gives the reading of this MS. in the margin, and prefers some other in the text. Though none of Origens Asterics are retained, it comes nearest to his edition in the Hexapla, as Grabe, Montfaucon, and Kennicott agree; in some places it is conformable to Theodotion, or Symmachus, and seems mostly the Hesychian edition. See Montfaucon, Prælim. in Hexapla; Kennicott, diss. 2. [back]
Note 5. The Arians boasted that Alius had received his impious doctrine from St. Lucian: but he is justified with regard to that calumny by the silence of St. Athanasius; the panegyrics of St. Chrysostom and St. Jerom; the express testimony of the ancient book, on the Trinity, among the works of St. Athanasius, Dial. 3. Tom. 2. p. 179; his orthodox confession of faith in Sozomen, l. 3. c. 5. p. 502; and the authority of the church, which from his death has always ranked him among her illustrious martyrs. [back]
Note 6. Saussaye Mart. Gallic. t. 1. p. 17. Chatelain, p. 114. [back]