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Wednesday, November 29th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Luciferus I, Bishop of Calaris

Wace's Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

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Luciferus I., bp. of Calaris (Cagliari) ] in Sardinia, mentioned first in a letter of pope Liberius to Eusebius of Vercelli. Moved by great anxiety about the efforts then being made (a.d. 354) to procure a condemnation of Athanasius by the Western bishops, Lucifer had come from Sardinia to Rome, and Liberius accepted his offer to go as an envoy to Constantius to ask him to summon a council The council met at Milan in 354. The Arian party, supported by the emperor, was strong in it, and a proposal to condemn Athanasius was immediately brought forward, but resisted by Lucifer with such vehemence that the first day's meeting broke up in, confusion and his opponents prevailed on the emperor to confine him in the palace. On the fourth day he was released. The subsequent discussions of the council were held in the palace and Constantius himself apparently took part in them. The proceedings were irregular and disorderly, and after some personal altercations the emperor sent Lucifer into exile His banishment lasted from 355 to 361, and was mostly spent at Eleutheropolis in Palestine, subject to the persecutions of the Arian bp. Eutychius. During his banishment, and probably at Eleutheropolis, his books or pamphlets on the controversy were written. Lucifer addresses Constantius in them with a remarkable vigour of denunciation. He evidently courted persecution, and even martyrdom. He compares the emperor to the worst kings that ever reigned, and regards him as more impious than Judas Iscariot. He sent his vehement invective by a special messenger to Constantius himself. Astonished at this audacity, the emperor ordered Florentius, an officer of his court, to send the book back to Lucifer to ask if it were really his. The intrepid bishop replied that it was and sent it back again. Constantius must be allowed to have shewn magnanimity in leaving these violent effusions unpunished. There may, however, have been some additional hardship in the removal of Lucifer from Palestine to the Thebaid, where he remained till the death of Constantius in 361. Hearing of his arrival in Egypt, Athanasius sent a letter from Alexandria, full of praise and congratulations, asking him to let him see a copy of his work After receiving it, Athanasius thanked him in a still more laudatory letter, and calls him the Elias of the age.

Very soon after his accession, a.d. 361, Julian permitted the exiled bishops to return to their sees. Lucifer and Eusebius of Vercelli were both in the Thebaid, and Eusebius pressed his friend to come with him to Alexandria, where a council was to be held under the presidency of Athanasius, to attempt to heal a schism at Antioch. Lucifer preferred to go straight to Antioch, sending two deacons to act for him at the council. Taking a hasty part in the affairs of the much-divided church at Antioch, where the Catholic party was divided into two sections, the followers of Meletius and the followers of Eustathius, Lucifer ordained Paulinus, the leader of the latter section, as bp. of the church. When Eusebius arrived at Antioch, bringing the synodal letter of the council and prepared to settle matters so as to give a triumph to neither party, he was distressed to find himself thus anticipated by the action of Lucifer. Unwilling to come into open collision with his friend, he retired immediately; Lucifer stayed, and declared that he would not hold communion with Eusebius or any who adopted the moderate policy of the Alexandrian council, which had determined that those bishops who had merely consented to Arianism under pressure should remain undisturbed.

After remaining some time at Antioch, Lucifer returned to Sardinia, and continued, it would seem, to occupy his see. Jerome (Chron. ) states that he died in 371. To what extent he was an actual schismatic remains obscure. St. Ambrose remarks that "he had separated himself from our communion" (de Excessu Satyri, 1127, 47); and St. Augustine, "that he fell into the darkness of schism, having lost the light of charity" ( Ep. 185, note 47). But there is no mention of any separation except Lucifer's own repulsion of so many ecclesiastics; and Jerome, in his dialogue against the Luciferians (§ 20), calls him beatus and bonus pastor . (See a quotation from the Mém. de Trevoux in Ceillier, vol. iv. p. 247.)

The substance of Lucifer's controversial pamphlets consists of appeals to Holy Scripture, and they contain a very large number of quotations from both Testaments. His writings are in Migne's Patr. Lat. t. xiii. His followers, if they ever formed a distinct organization, disappeared in a few years. Jerome's dialogue adv. Luciferianos purports to be the report of a discussion between an orthodox Christian and a Luciferian. The dialogue was written c. 378, seven years after the death of Lucifer. Five or six years later an appeal was made to the emperor by the Luciferian presbyters.


Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Luciferus I, Bishop of Calaris'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hwd/​l/luciferus-i-bishop-of-calaris.html. 1911.
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