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Lucifer of Cagliari


Bishop of that see (ancient Calaris) in Sardinia; d. c. 370. Along with eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli, Lucifer represented Pope liberius at the Synod of Milan (355), at which the Emperor constantius exerted strong pressure on the bishops to condemn St. athanasius. Lucifer opposed the emperor in such vehement terms that both he and Eusebius were sent into exile. Lucifer was banished to Commagene, and subsequently to Palestine and the Egyptian Thebais. Throughout his career he was an uncompromising defender of the letter, rather than the spirit, of the Trinitarian teachings of the Council of nicaea, and he attacked all opponentseven those who merely questioned these teachingswith a fierceness bordering on fanaticism. While in exile, he wrote five exceedingly bitter polemics: De non conveniendo cum haereticis, De regibus apostaticis, De S. Athanasio, De non parcendo in Deum delinquentibus, and Moriendum esse pro Dei filio.

Although expecting and hoping to be martyred, he was freed from exile by the Emperor Julian's edict of 362 and was soon embroiled in the religious controversies between the followers of Meletius and Eustathius at Antioch. He was invited by St. Athanasius to attend the Synod of Alexandria, which had been called to reconcile, as far as was possible, the differences between the Catholics and Arians of various understandings. He refused the invitation, but sent two deacons to represent him. Ignoring the conciliatory recommendations of the synod, he proceeded to consecrate Paulinus, a priest of Antioch and an adherent of Eustathius, as bishop, thereby founding the Meletian schism. On his return to Sardinia, he continued to attack all who disagreed with or questioned his uncompromising views and ended his career in isolation. That he died in schism is supported by the testimony of St. ambrose (De excessu Satyri 47) and St. augustine (Epist. 185.47).

Lucifer was a mediocre theologian and exegete. However, his copious citations from the Old Latin versions of Scripture are an invaluable source of Old Latin readings. His deliberately careless literary style reflects many usages of the spoken Latin of his age. His close adherents, the Luciferians, as a more or less schismatic group, continued his rigoristic views, but disappeared in the early 5th century. They are attacked by St. jerome in his Dialogus contra Luciferianos (c. 379).

Bibliography: Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 14 (1886). g. ceretti, Moriendum esse pro Dei filio (Risa 1940), with comment. j. l. davies, A Dictionary of Christian Biography, ed. w. smith and h. wace (London 187787) 3:749751. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique. ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 190350). 9.1:103244, including Luciferians. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur (Freiburg 191332) 3:469477. u. morrica, Storia della letteratura latina cristiana, 3 v. in 5 (Turin 192335) 2.1:165181. c. zedda, "La teologia trinitaria di Lucifero di Cagliari," Divus Thomas 52 (1949) 276329. g. thÖrnell, Studia Luciferiana (Uppsala 1934), on L.'s language.

[m. r. p. mcguire]

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