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E03256: The Martyrdom of the *Luceia, Auceia and Companions (martyrs of Rome, S02478) is written in Latin, presumably in Rome at an uncertain date, by the 8th c. at the latest. It narrates Luceia’s captivity under the barbarian king Auceia and their decision to seek martyrdom in Rome together after a vision together with 20 other martyrs.

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posted on 2017-07-11, 00:00 authored by mpignot
Martyrdom of Luceia, Auceia and Companions (BHL 4980)


§ 1: Luceia, a religious citizen of Rome (sanctimonialis civis urbica) is captured by the king of the barbarians Auceia, who takes her to his homeland (patria). Seeing that she is most beautiful, he wants to corrupt her. However Luceia tells him that her husband Jesus Christ protects her. Hearing that she is a Christian, Auceia is frightened and orders that she be treated most honourably. She receives a private chamber and servant girls. Luceia spends her time fasting, thanking God and praying for the king.

§ 2: Before going to war the king asks Luceia to pray to her God for help and returns victorious. The king honours Luceia as his own mother and continue to be helped thanks to her prayers.

§ 3: After twenty years, Luceia has a vision at night: the Lord tells her to go back to her city to be martyred. She tells Auceia, who decides to leave his house and family behind and go with her. He goes to Rome with Luceia not as a barbarian but as a Roman citizen, not as a wolf but as a sheep.

§ 4: In Rome there is a persecution against Christians. Soon, Luceia is seized and interrogated by the prefect Aelius who tells her to sacrifice or face death. As she refuses, the prefect orders her to be beheaded.

§ 5: Auceia asks the prefect to be executed together with her, his mistress (domina), telling him about how he captured her and now wants to die with her. As the prefect remarks that he is not a Christian, Auceia replies that the spilling of his blood will make him a Christian. The prefect orders him to be beheaded.

§ 6: Twenty other martyrs are interrogated, Antonius, Hereneus, Theodorus, Dionysius, Apollonius, Apamius, Pronicus, Coteus, Orion, Papicus, Satyrus, Victor and others. They profess their faith and are also executed by beheading.

Text: Acta Sanctorum, Iun. V, 13-14. Summary: M. Pignot.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Luceia, king Auceia and companions, martyrs of Rome : S02478

Saint Name in Source

Luceia/Lucia, Auceia/Aucia

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Observed scarcity/absence of miracles Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous interventions in war

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Monarchs and their family Officials Slaves/ servants Foreigners (including Barbarians) Unbaptized Christians


Epic martyrdoms The Martyrdom of Luceia, Auceia and Companions is an anonymous literary account of martyrdom written long after the great persecutions of Christians that provide the background of the narrative. It is part of a widely spread literary genre, that scholars often designate as "epic" Martyrdoms (or Passiones), to be distinguished from earlier, short and more plausible accounts, apparently based on the genuine transcripts of the judicial proceedings against the martyrs. These texts narrate the martyrdom of local saints, either to promote a new cult or to give further impulse to existing devotion. They follow widespread stereotypes mirroring the early authentic trials of martyrs, but with a much greater degree of detail and in a novelistic style. Thus they narrate how the protagonists are repeatedly questioned and tortured under the order of officials or monarchs, because they refuse to sacrifice to pagan gods but profess the Christian faith. They frequently refer to miracles performed by the martyrs and recreate dialogues between the protagonists. The narrative generally ends with the death of the martyrs (often by beheading) and their burial. These texts are literary creations bearing a degree of freedom in the narration of supposedly historical events, often displaying clear signs of anachronism. For these reasons, they have been generally dismissed as historical evidence and often remain little known. However, since most certainly date from within the period circa 400-800, often providing unique references to cult, they are an essential source to shed light on the rise of the cult of saints. The Martyrdom of Luceia, Auceia and Companions The earliest and most widespread version of the Martyrdom is BHL 4980, found in more than ten manuscripts, the earliest from the 8th and 9th centuries: St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, 548, p. 167-172 (8th c.); Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale, D.V. 3, f. 76v-79r (8th c.); Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine 55, f. 200r-201v (9th c.); Rome, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Farf. 29 (alias 341), f. 225v-227r (9th-10th c., variant BHL 4980b providing an ending situating Luceia’s feast on 13 December); Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 5771; f. 325v-327r (9th-10th c.); Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, C.10.i, f. 90v-91v (9th c.). For a list including later manuscripts see the database Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta ( and the cd-rom in Goullet 2014.


The Martyrdom is a very short account providing almost no evidence about cult. There is even uncertainty about their feast day: besides the already mentioned manuscript now in Rome situating the feast on 13 December, rubrics in the oldest manuscripts (St Gall and Turin) situate Luceia’s feast day on 25 June, while the Vatican manuscript situates it on 26 June. The Martyrdom must have been composed by the 8th century when it is attested in manuscripts, while there are a good number of 9th century manuscripts. An earlier dating is possible, if any connection is to be established with the various recensions of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum mentioning Luceia and the barbarian king on the same feast days listed in the above-mentioned oldest manuscripts (see Heinzelmann, who thus argues for a dating in the 6th century).


Edition (BHL 4980) Acta Sanctorum, Iun. V, 13-14. Further reading: Heinzelmann, M., “Passio Luceiae BHL 4980,” in: Goullet, M. (ed.), Le légendier de Turin. MS. D.V.3 de la Bibliothèque Nationale Universitaire (Florence, 2014), 585-588.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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