bishop of Cagliari, hence surnamed Calaritanus,
first appears in ecclesiastical history as joint legate with Eusebius of Vercelli [EUSEBIUS VERCELLENSIS] from pope Liberius to the council of Milan (A. D. 354), where, along with his colleague, he displayed such determined firmness in withstanding the demands of the Arian emperor, that he was first cast into prison, and then transported from place to place as an exile. every where enduring hardships and cruelty.
While residing at Eleutheropolis in Syria Lucifer composed in vigorous but coarse and unpolished style his chief work, entitled Ad Constanetium Augustum pro Sancto Athanasio Libri II.,
which, although containing forcible arguments in favour of the truth, is characterised by such outrageous intemperance of expression, that many passages bear more resemblance to the ravings of a furious madman than to the calm reasoning which would become a Christian minister. Constantius, either in anger or contempt, inquired of Lucifer, through Florentius, the magister officiorum, whether he was really the author of this invective, but no immediate punishment appears to have followed the bold acknowledgment, and any scheme of vengeance which might have been meditated was frustrated by the death of the tyrant.
The violent and ungovernable temper of the Sardinian prelate, who was now restored to freedom, along with other victims of religious persecution, soon began to introduce confusion and discord among his own friends.
He increased the disorders which agitated the church at Antioch by interfering in their disputes, and ordaining Paulinus bishop, in opposition to Meletius; and when his proceedings were censured by Eusebius, who had been despatched to Antioch by the Alexandrian synod to quell these tumults, he did not hesitate to anathematise his old tried friend, so long the companion of his dangers and misfortunes. Finding that his extreme opinions received no sanction from the ecclesiastical authorities either in the East or West, and that he was disclaimed even by Athanasius, who at one time had spoken of his writings in terms of the warmest admiration, he retired to his native island, and there founded the small sect of the Luciferiani.
The distinguishing tenet of these schismatics was, that no Arian bishop, and no bishop who had in any measure yielded to the Arians, even although he repented and confessed his errors, could enter the bosom of the church without forfeiting his ecclesiastical rank, and that all bishops and others who admitted the claims of such persons to a full restoration of their privileges became themselves tainted and outcasts -- a doctrine which, had it been acknowledged at this period in its full extent, would have had the effect of excommunicating nearly the whole Christian world. Lucifer died during the reign of Valentinian, pro-bably about A. D. 370.
The works of this fierce polemic, which, although all alike deformed by the same unseemly harshness and passion, are extremely valuable, on account of the numerous quotations from Scripture every where introduced, may be arranged in the following order:
I. Epistola ad Eusebium, written in the month of March or April, 355.
II. De non conveniendo cum Haereticis, written between 356 and 358, at Germanica, while suffering under the persecution of Eudoxius, the Arian. bishop of that place.
III. De Regibus Apostolicis, written at Eleutheropolis in 358.
IV. Ad Constantium Augustuum pro Sanclo Athanasio, Libri II., written at the same place, about 360.
V. De non parcendo in Deum delinquentibus, written about the same time with the preceding.
VI. Moriendum pro Filio Dei, written about the beginning of 361, on being interrogated respecting the authorship of the tract Ad Conestantium.
VII. Epistola ad Florentium Magistirum Officiorum, written at the same time with the preceding.
An Epistola ad Catholicos, written while imprisoned at Milan, is lost.
The Editio Princeps of the works of Lucifer appeared at Paris, 8vo. 1568, superintended by Joannes Tillius, bishop of Meaux (Meldensis), and dedicated to pope Pius the Fifth. Although in many respects very imperfect
, it was reprinted without alteration in the Magna Bibliotheca Patrum, fol. Colon. 1618, vol. iv. p. 121
, and also in the Paris collection
But even these are superior to the text exhibited in the Biblioth. Patrum Max. fol. Lugdun. 1687, vol. iv. p. 181
, since here we find not only many changes introduced without MS. authority, but all the scriptural quotations accommodated to the vulgate version. Much better than any of the preceding is the edition contained in the Bibliotheca Patrum of Galland, vol. vi. p. 115 (fol. Venet. 1770)
, but by far the best is that published by the brothers Coleti (fol. Venet. 1778)
, whose labours presented this father for the first time in a satisfactory form.
Hieronym. de Viris
3.95, Advers. Luciferian. Dial.;
Rufin. H. E.
1.30; Sulp. Sever. H. S.
2.48; Socrat. H. E.
3.5; Sozomen. H. E.
5.12; Theodoret. H. E.
3.4; Schönemann, Biblioth. Patr. Lat.
1.8, where very full information concerning the different editions will be found.