The skull of Pope Lucius, a much-revered relic by Danish Catholics, turns out to not be that of the clergyman martyred in the third century, reports Kristeligt Dagblad.
The discovery was made after a Norwegian researcher studied the skull of a 12th century Norwegian king, Sigurd Jorsalfarer, and determined the skull was incorrectly attributed.
The same inventory number (not 666)
The Norwegian skull bore the same inventory number as that of St Lucius, which led to the National Museum performing its own study of the cranium.
Danish experts from the National Museum then studied the skull and used carbon dating to determine that the skull is of a man who lived between the years 340 and 431, nearly 100 years after the death of St Lucius in 254.
Carbon dating also rules out the Norwegian skull belonging to the crusader king who ruled in the 1100s.
No skullduggery suspected
”It is a fascinating story how it happened,” Per Kristian Madsen, the head of the National Museum, told Kristeligt Dagblad.
”The story piques the curiosity to go to Rome and see if we can find a skeleton without a skull – or with the wrong skull – to match our skull.”
The skull once thought to be that of the former pope was brought to Roskilde in around the year 1100 after St Lucius was declared patron saint of Zealand.
The skull remained in Roskilde Cathedral until 1908 when it was moved to Saint Ansgar's Church in Copenhagen.
St Lucius was pope from 253 to 254. Given the travels of his skull, it will surprise few to learn he was beheaded.