Monday, 21 September 2009

Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari

A recent holiday in Sardinia took me to the (alleged) tomb of Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari in the mid-fourth century. Lucifer of Cagliari's reputation is founded on being the most wackily-named bishop of late antiquity, and also for his trailblazing status as a bishop who used his status to call a Christian emperor (Constantius II) names (the anti-Christ, etc.). He was exiled to Egypt, but was treated altogether more pleasantly that Constantius treated civilian enemies. A translation of his works is being made by Richard Flower of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
When the cattedrale di S. Maria was built in the early seventeenth century, the crypt was almost wholly dedicated to relics of martyrs brought over from the old church named for San Saturnino. There is row upon row of little wall monuments. Lucifer's statue is placed at the east end of the chapel on the right. It has three inscriptions. The one on the statue base records the role of Archbishop Ambrogio Machin (1627-40) and refers, quite anachronistically, to Lucifer as a spirited speaker in the Roman curia. The next one reads:
+die xxi iunii MDCXXIII inventum corpus S. Luciferi ar[chiepisco]pi Cal[aritani] in capellam hanc eius nomini per ill[ustrem] d[ominum] Franc[iscum] Desquivel Ar[chiepisco]pu[m] Cal[aritanum] dicatam translatum fuit die xxi [M]aii MDCXXVI
On the 21st day of June 1623 was found the body of S. Lucifer archbishop of Cagliari, transferred to this chapel, dedicated to his name by the illustrious Don Francesco d'Esquivel archbishop of Cagliari, on the 21st day of May 1626.
For a late Romanist, it is amusing to see the convenient 'discovery' of bodies, as pioneered by Ambrose of Milan, still in practice (not that there aren't more recent examples). I also wonder why Lucifer was translated on 21st May and not on his feast day, the 20th. The third inscription (below) also calls Lucifer an 'archbishop', anachronistically, and additionally makes him primate of Sardinia and Corcica [sic!] (I don't know if this is an anachronism but would expect so). But the weird thing is that it calls him B.M., which I think has to mean Beatus Martyr (by the way, if anyone can explain the first half of line 4, let me know!).

Lucifer was no martyr, and he was a questionable sort of Catholic saint, when you consider that he inspired a sect, the Luciferians, who were castigated as heretics by Jerome. What is most interesting here is the (literal) rediscovery and reuse by seventeenth-century archbishops of a predecessor who might have been thought quite problematic. I wonder how far their factual slips were based on ignorance, and how far they were calculated. It would be a fine subject for a historian who combined an expertise in the history of patristic scholarship and seventeenth-century Sardinia!

The church of Cagliari also commemorated several doublets of Lucifer: the cr
ypt contains wall memorials covering the remains of S. Lucifer the Presbyter, and S. Lucifera, both martyrs of Cagliari. Whether Lucifer was a common name in Cagliari, or whether this is a neat illustration of how catholic cult despised birth control when it came to engendering martyrs, I leave to readers to decide.


James said...

My dear Dr Kelly - stumbling through the wilds of the interweb (and quite by chance-ish) I found your blog. Love the pictures of Lucifer - it was a a fabulous holiday. Though a shame you missed out the hilariously graphic pictures of martyrdoms lining the walls of the crypt. Mediawatch UK would be outraged (on which note, am off to watch Spartacus...).


Caríssimo Dr. Kelly. creio que não se atentou para o real motivo da vossa descoberta. Muitos já morreram e morrem por causa deste descaso com os fatos passados de relevante efeito em nosso presente. Já pensou quantos jovens, mulheres e crianças poderiam estarem vivos se o véu da tolice e estupidez não tivesse escondido de maneira vil este fato.Eu sou luciferiano e pratico a doutrina de Lúcifer de cagliari.
Ele alertou o mundo e o mundo não o escutou. Ele ainda continua a alertar e sou testemunha disso, pois em nossos cultos o espírito de se faz presente e nos orienta ao caminho certo do seu mestre mestre Jeoschua que o enviou a nós. Pensar que as decisões de constantino não o afeta hoje é o mesmo que pensar que a palavra e os atos de Jeoschua morreram com ele.

Anonymous said...

This dude comes back to life you know. Notice the enchiridion symbols also on the tomb. Yeah the one where it looks like a trumpet sticking through the x . I think thats gods language for if you missed out reading that, when this guy is raised from the dead. youre screwed. trumpet = good. X = marks the spot. yep. too bad no one knew his prophecy would be for after his death and resurrection. EXCEPT ME AND THE OTHERS .... BWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. woops i meant i need to take my medication. yes.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Jerome was so infuriated by Lucifer that he translated his nme for Haylel to forever link his name to satan in Christian Theology.

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