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Roskilde Cathedral

For many years the diocese that Roskilde Cathedral belonged to was the richest and most powerful in Denmark.
Construction of the cathedral, which lasted for over 100 years, began in approximately 1170 but the two large, distinctive towers were not added until about 1400. Many fascinating stories are associated with the church, including the one about the skull of St Lucius.

Eighteen centuries ago in Rome Lucius was the pope and known for letting apostates come back to the church after a period of penance. Eventually beheaded for practicing the forbidden faith of Christianity, Lucius became a saint and was considered a sacred martyr who had died for his faith.

In the 1100s people felt that the cathedral should have a patron saint to whom they could appeal for help and protection. As proof that a church had a patron saint, it must have something that belonged to the saint, preferably a relic, a remnant of the saint’s body. Because the pope had to approve of the patron saint, two priests from the cathedral were sent to Rome to find the new cathedral’s patron saint and the required relic.

On their first night in the city St Lucius appeared with his skull in a dream of one of the priests and declared that he was destined to be the cathedral’s patron saint. The next day the priests were led to Santa Cecilia, where they were to choose a relic from the many found there, making the choice quite difficult. Then they caught sight of a skull shining brightly in the sun that of course turned out to be that of St Lucius, whose name means “light.”

The Demon from Isefjord in a altarpiece from 1498.

Hear the podcast about Roskilde Cathedral (and the Viking Ships) here.

Möchten Sie den Podcast über die Kathedrale (und das Wikingerschiff) auf deutsch hören, drücken Sie bitte hier.

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