Posted by: ken98 | January 15, 2010

Saint Lucifer and the Sorrowful Saga of Athanasius

Day 126 – Ken here (F)(1-15-2010)
(DEF v.2, ch.21, pp.800-810)

Still not feeling the best, but better, here’s todays 10 pages from Gibbon…

This whole day (and most of tomorrow) (and part of yesterday) is a long love letter from Gibbon to Athanasius. Athanasius is the bishop of Alexandria Egypt who defied 2 emperors, reigned for 46 years, was expelled from his office 5 times and lived for 20 years in exile or in hiding as a fugitive from the law. Athanasius was also the life-long hater/persecutor of Arius, head of the Arian faction of the church (whom Catholics consider heretical – the heresy hinging on the relationship of the Father and the Son).

All of this is kind of surprising as Gibbon is usually adamantly anti-Catholic, and usually roots for the underdog. But the doctrine of Arius also happens to be condemned by most Protestant Churches today also (including the Church of England), so maybe Gibbon is just partly appeasing the powers that be (or powers that were – in the 1780’s).

The Story
The Long and Surprising Story of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (cont)

  • At the surprise Council of Tyre, Athanasius is condemned, Athanasius, rather than waiting for imperial messengers to take him into exile, sneaks up to Constantinople, hides in alleys, waits until Constantine is returning from a villa across the straits, and confronts him in public
  • Constantine at first is outraged, then more complacent, allows a selection of the bishops of the Tyre Council to prevent evidence in front of Constantine himself, is about to allow Athan. to return when he learns of a plot to hijack the wheat supply of Egypt (used to maintain the enormous capital city of Constantinople) to support Athan., Const. sends Athan. in exile to his eldest son Constantine II in Gaul, where Athan. utterly charms and wins over Caesar Const II. (336)
  • On Constantine’s I death, Constantine II restores Athan. to Egypt (338)
  • On Constantine II’s death in the Civil Wars between Constantine’s sons, Athan. is again exiled by another Synod (of Antioch) (remember this is all highly political maneuverings by both the Tritheist and the Arian parties) – the Synod of Antioch is actually a very imp. Synod for the Church – esp the Orthodox Church – establishing many rules and precedents – among which is that a bishop deprived of his See by Synod, can only be reinstated by Synod – so Athan. is said to have the See of Alexandria in error
  • Athan. is harassed by the Asian bishops, he takes refuge in Rome with the bishop of Rome, he convinces the Bishop Julian to convene an Italian Synod of 50 Bishops who declare him innocent (341)
  • In general, the West was pro-Tritheist, pro-Athanasius, the East pro-Arian, pro-Arius – Egypt seems to have been for the home team/local man all along – Athanasius
  • Constans (son of Constantine, a co-emperor after Const., soon to be dead), convenes an empire-wide Council at which much gold changes hands (94 bishops of the West, 74 of the East). They end up quarreling horribly, and adjourn to separate locations across the frontier (the Council had been held at the city of Sardica – just on the frontier between the Eastern and Western Empires). From 2 towns, each “hurled spiritual thunders” against the opposing gang of bishops. Gibbon dates this as the beginning of the (ultimate) division between the Western and Eastern Churches. The decisions of both Councils were published, in the West Athanasius was a saint, in the East, he was a criminal (346)
  • Athan. continues to court the Western emperor Constans, Constans declares to Constantius that he, Constans will land Athan. with a fleet and some legions to take his See back in Alexandria. Constantius relents, and sends countless invitations to Athan. to come back, re-assuring him over and over again of his safety. Athan. forces Constantius to continue to plead (not a good idea with a Roman emperor), and eventually allows himself to be slowly paraded throughout the provinces, round the corner of the Mediterranean, and down to Africa to take his seat on the Bishops throne of Egypt/Alexandria in a kind of triumphal procession. (349)
  • In the Civil Wars, Constans is defeated, and Constantius’ resentment only builds – he resolves to bring down Athan. at all costs – it is more imp. to him than defeating his own brother Constans in Gaul (351)
  • Constantius convenes Councils of Arles and Milan and gains a condemnation of Athanasius (with the help of the Arians – remember Constantius favors the Arians). In the aftermath of the condemnation, many Tritheist (ultimately Catholic) bishops are sent into exile – Liberius of Rome, Osius of Cordoba (friend of Constantine), the curiously named Lucifer of Cagliari, Hilary of Poitiers etc. It was definitely NOT an easy time to be a Bishop in the Empire
  • Constantius doesn’t just persecute Catholics, he persecutes all who don’t embrace his own solution to the Trinity Substance controversy that generated the Arians/Tritheists – the LIKENESS solution of the Son and the Father. In essence there are now 3 separate religious groups in the empire vying for power based upon very academic theories on how the Trinity works
  • Saint Jerome by Caravaggio at St Johns Co-Cathedral Valletta Malta - Jerome did the first great translation of the Old Testament into the vernacular (Latin), and he was the one who came up with the proper name of Satan in Latin (when translating Isaiah) Lucifer in the 390's

    Saint Jerome by Caravaggio at St Johns Co-Cathedral Valletta Malta - Jerome did the first great translation of the Old Testament into the vernacular (Latin), and he was the one who came up with the proper name of Satan in Latin (when translating Isaiah) Lucifer in the 390's

    The Strange Career and Name of Bishop and Saint Lucifer of Cagliari
    Lucifer means “Bearer of Light” in Latin, and is also a name for Satan in the Latin Vulgate Bible. Satan was originally the “Shining One, Son of the Morning” (Heylel ben Shakar in Hebrew in Isaiah) – Jerome, when translating the Bible into Latin, used the Latin name Lucifer to stand for the Hebrew Shining One (Heylel)), and the name stuck as a proper name for Satan (see here). Here is a fascinating blog on the Church of Cagliari where Saint Lucifer is celebrated every May 20th.

    Altar of Saint Lucifer of Cagliari, Sardinia - buried beside him is another saint - Lucifera

    Altar of Saint Lucifer of Cagliari, Sardinia - buried nearby are other martyr-saints, another Saint Lucifer, Priest, and a woman Santa Lucifera - maybe Lucifer was a common 4th century (or later) Sardinian name

    Lucifer was an avid proponent of what would later become Orthodox Catholicism – so much so, he argued forcefully, loudly, and long, to not let anyone who had ever compromised once on the question of Arianism/Tritheism back into the clergy (much like the North African Donatists maintained that anyone who had once recanted during Diocletian’s peresecutions could never be a “real” Christian again). His inspired adherents (the Luciferians) were put down by the famous Bishop Jerome later (for being too zealously Catholic for the Catholic Church).

    Why would a dyed-in-the-wool Christian extremist and a saint to boot be named after the prince of darkness? The answer is in timing – Lucifer was active during the mid-300’s, Jerome did his great, definitive translation in the 390’s, not to become popular until the 400’s, so Lucifer pre-dated the unintentional “naming” of Satan by Jerome by probably 5 or 6 decades. After all, “Bearer of Light” isn’t such a bad Christian name.

    This from Wiki (here)

    Lucifer Calaritanus (Italian: Lucifero Calaritano) (d. May 20, 370 or 371) was a bishop of Cagliari in Sardinia known for his passionate opposition to Arianism. He is venerated as a Saint in Sardinia, though his status remains controversial.

    Lucifer first appears in history as an envoy from Liberius of Rome to the Emperor Constantius II, requesting the convening of a church council. At the Council of Milan in 354 or 355 he defended Athanasius of Alexandria against Arian attempts to secure his condemnation by Western bishops. It was reported that Constantius II, a supporter of Arian theology, confined Lucifer for three days in the palace, where Lucifer continued to argue vehemently. Along with Eusebius of Vercelli and Dionysius of Milan, he was exiled. He travelled first to Syria, then to Palestine and finally to Thebes in Egypt. While in exile, he wrote fiery pamphlets to the emperor in which he proclaimed himself to be ready to suffer martyrdom for his beliefs.

    After the death of Constantius and the accession of Julian the Apostate, Lucifer was able to return from exile in 362. However, he would not be reconciled to former Arians. He opposed the Bishop Meletius, who came to accept the Nicene creed (and for that was driven out by Arians). Although Meletius had the support of many proponents of Nicene theology at Antioch, Lucifer put his support behind the Eustathian party which had unflinchingly stood by the Nicene creed, and prolonged the schism between Meletians and Eustathians by consecrating without licence a Eustathian, Paulinus, as bishop. After this he returned to Cagliari, where, according to Jerome, he died in 370.

    He may have been excommunicated, as is hinted in the writings of Ambrose of Milan and Augustine of Hippo, as well as Jerome, who refers to his followers as Luciferians. There is extant a work known as Libellus precum, which was written by two Luciferian clergy called Faustinus and Marcellinus. Jerome discusses Lucifer and his supporters in his polemic Altercatio Luciferiani et orthodoxi (“Altercation of a Luciferian and an Orthodox”), as well as describing the bishop’s career in De Viris Illustribus 95.

    Lucifer of Cagliari’s surviving writings, all of which date from the period of his exile, are directed against Arianism and reconciliation with heresy. His works are written in the form of speeches delivered directly to Constantius and repeatedly address the emperor in the second person throughout. His main writings are Moriundum esse pro Dei filio (It is Necessary to Die for the Son of God), De non conveniendo cum haereticis (On not meeting with heretics), De regibus apostaticis (On apostate kings), De non parcendo in Deum delinquentibus (On not forgiving those who transgress against God) and the two books of Quia absentem nemo debet iudicare nec damnare, sive De Athanasio (That no one ought to be judged or damned while absent, or On Athanasius). His texts quote extensively from the Bible and so are useful as sources for the Vetus Latina. Also extant is a pair of letters which are allegedly correspondence between Lucifer and the emperor’s secretary Florentius on the subject of some of Lucifer’s inflammatory works that he had sent to Constantius.

    Lucifer’s status as a Saint is a matter of controversy. According to John Henry Blunt’s 1874 Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties, and Schools of Religious Thought,
    “ The Church of Cagliari celebrated the feast of a Saint Lucifer on the 20th of May. Two Archbishops of Sardinia wrote for and against the sanctity of Lucifer. The Congregation of the Inquisition imposed silence on both parties, and decreed that the veneration of Lucifer should stand as it was. The Bollandists defend this decree of the Congregation … contending that the Lucifer in question is not the author of the schism, but another Lucifer who suffered martyrdom in the persecution of the Vandals.”

    Saint Lucifer Priest - in Cagliari, Sardinia

    Saint Lucifer Priest - in Cagliari, Sardinia

    Santa Lucifera in Cagliari Sardinia

    Santa Lucifera in Cagliari Sardinia


    1. […]  source […]

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