Author: Catholic Encyclopedia


(Hebrew helel; Septuagint heosphoros, Vulgate lucifer)

The name Lucifer originally denotes the planet Venus, emphasizing its brilliancy. The Vulgate employs the word also for "the light of the morning" (Job 50:17), "the signs of the zodiac" (Job, xxxviiii, 32), and "the aurora" (Psalm 109:3). Metaphorically, the word is applied to the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12) as preeminent among the princes of his time; to the high priest Simon son of Onias (Ecclus. 50:6), for his surpassing virtue, to the glory of heaven (Apoc., 2:28), by reason of its excellency; finally to Jesus Christ himself (II Petr. 1:19; Apocalypse 22:16; the "Exultet" of Holy Saturday) the true light of our spiritual life. The Syriac version and the version of Aquila derive the Hebrew noun helel from the verb yalal, "to lament"; St. Jerome agrees with them (In Isaiah 1:14), and makes Lucifer the name of the principal fallen angel who must lament the loss of his original glory bright as the morning star. In Christian tradition this meaning of Lucifer has prevailed; the Fathers maintain that Lucifer is not the proper name of the devil, but denotes only the state from which he has fallen (Petavius, "De Angelis", III, iii, 4).

A. J. MAAS Transcribed by Tomas Hancil

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From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc., P.O. Box 281096, Denver, Colorado, USA, 80228. (

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