Re­searchers try to an­swer mys­tery of saintly skull

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOG­ICAL NEWS -

The skull of St. Lu­cius was one of the most im­por­tant relics of me­dieval Den­mark, and was housed in Roskilde Cathe­dral. How­ever, a team of sci­en­tists re­cently made a study of the skull, and although an ex­am­i­na­tion shows it to be­long to an el­derly male, the re­sult of the car­bon 14 dat­ing leaves no doubt: this is not St. Lu­cius, who died around 254 CE.

The leg­end of how the skull ended up in Den­mark starts in the 1100’s, when the peo­ple of Roskilde felt that their new cathe­dral should have a pa­tron saint to whom they could ap­peal for help and pro­tec­tion. Two priests were sent as en­voys to Rome to ask for an ap­pro­pri­ate relic. The priests were led to Santa Ce­cilia, where they were to se­lect a relic from the many found there. They caught sight of a skull shin­ing brightly in the sun, and so the leg­end goes, it turned out to be that of St. Lu­cius (whose name means ‘light’). One of the priests claimed that St. Lu­cius had ap­peared in a dream declar­ing that he was des­tined to be the cathe­dral’s pa­tron.

The dat­ing was car­ried out by Jan Heine­meier at the Depart­ment of Physics, Univer­sity of Aarhus. The re­sults showed that the skull came from the pe­riod 340-431 CE, and there­fore proved that it did not be­long to St. Lu­cius (who died in 254 CE).

The relic of St. Lu­cius

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