Lucifer of Cagliari

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Church of San Lucifero (circa 1660), dedicated to Saint Lucifer. Cagliari, Sardinia
This is an article about the 4th century bishop. For biblical character, see Lucifer.

Lucifer Calaritanus (Italian: Lucifero da Cagliari) (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 Pope Liberius to the Emperor Constantius II, requesting the convening of a church council.[1] At the Council of Milan (c. 354 or 355), he defended St. Athanasius 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 Imperial Palace, where Lucifer continued to argue venomously on behalf of Athanasius.[2] Along with Eusebius of Vercelli, Lucifer was exiled for his vehement opposition to the Emperor.[3] He was banished first to Commagene in Syria, thereafter to Palestine and finally to the Thebais 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 and other expatriated bishops were allowed to return from exile in 361 or 362.[4] However, he would not be reconciled to former Arians.[5] 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. He subsequently returned to Cagliari where, according to Jerome, he died in 370.[6]

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,

A chapel in Cagliari's cathedral is dedicated to a Saint Lucifer. Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy, wife of Louis XVIII of France, is buried there.[8]

Opinions about Lucifer vary among Catholics who know of him; some consider him to have been "the champion of orthodoxy against Arianism and friend of St. Athanasius,"[9] while others consider him to have been a religious fanatic who ferociously vituperated his opponents.[10]


  1. ^ "Lucifer (bishop of Cagliari)." Encyclopædia Britannica. Available online <>.
  2. ^ Cross, F. L., and Elizabeth A. Livingstone. "Lucifer." Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (pp. 841). Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.
  3. ^ MC GUIRE, M.R.P. "Lucifer of Cagliari." New Catholic Encyclopedia (Volume 8, pp. 1058). McGraw-Hill Co., New York, 1967. Copyright by The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
  4. ^ Schaff, Philip. "Principal Works of St. Jerome." Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (Volume VI, pp. 319). Second Series. Christian Literature Publishing Co., New York, 1892. Available online through The Christian Classics Ethereal Library <>.
  5. ^ LECLERCQ, H. "Lucifer of Cagliari." Catholic Encyclopedia (Volume IX, pp. 410). Robert Appleton Company. New York, 1907. Available online <>.
  6. ^ Jerome, Chron. Ol. CCLXXXVII 2
  7. ^ John Henry Blunt, Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties, and Schools of Religious Thought (1874), p. 263.
  8. ^ A Jacobite Gazetteer - Cagliari, Sardinia
  9. ^ BENIGNI, U. "Cagliari, Archdiocese of." Catholic Encyclopedia (Volume III, pp. 139). Robert Appleton Company. New York, 1907. Available online <>.
  10. ^ MC GUIRE, M.R.P. "Lucifer of Cagliari." New Catholic Encyclopedia (Volume 8, pp. 1058). McGraw-Hill Co., New York, 1967. Copyright by The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.


  • Cross, F. L. ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford UP, 1978.
  • Englebert, Omer. The Lives of the Saints. Christopher and Anne Fremantle, trans. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1994. Nihil obstat, Imprimatur 1951.
  • Diercks, G. F. ed. Luciferi Calaritani Opera quae supersunt, Turnhout: Brepols, 1978.

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