Jesus is Lucifer?
Jesus is Lucifer!!
I recently encountered an online video from a paranoid anti-Catholic. The type that thinks virtually everything is a Jesuit conspiracy. In it, the claim was made that, “The Vatican invoked and worshiped Lucifer in 2012…, and then they did it again in 2013”. Inserted into the video was footage of the 2012 Easter vigil at St. Peters basilica and the deacon chanting the Exsultet. There it was, the deacon chanting supposedly damning words, “Flammas eius lúcifer matutínus invéniat: ille, inquam, lúcifer, qui nescit occásum. Christus Fílius tuus,”. Captions on the video ‘translated’ the phrase (while capitalizing lucifer and leaving it un-translated) as follows – “His Flame dawning His own creation May I say, O’ Lucifer, who knows no setting. Christ, is your son.” Turns out, there are a ton of videos on YouTube like this and not a one refuting them, so here we are.
Ok, I’ll explain what it really says in a minute, but let’s get some context first. This is part of a much longer prayer called the Exsultet. It is chanted by the deacon towards the beginning of the Easter vigil. This prayer is very ancient; the oldest manuscript evidence of it dates from the seventh century. So if the accusation is true, then not only “the Vatican” but the entire Western Church has been invoking Satan. Not twice, but rather, every year since at least the 600s. In actuality it’s a quite beautiful and profound prayer which revels in the resurrection. This prayer is sung when the Paschal candle is brought into the dark Church, dispelling the darkness.
Now that we have some context, let’s take a look at what’s actually being said. The supposed translation which has the deacon calling Christ the son of Lucifer is clearly manipulated. I suppose if you were to translate the words with a dictionary, completely ignoring grammar, you might come to this conclusion (aka Google translate fail). Though I am only a novice at Latin, even I can scratch this out. Let’s break it down hyper-literally and with correct grammar, leaving ‘lucifer’ un-translated.
Flammas eius lúcifer matutínus invéniat
This flame of yours lucifer of the morning found
ille, inquam, lúcifer, qui nescit occásum.
by he, I say, the lucifer, who knows not setting.
Christus Fílius tuus,
Christ the son of yours,
qui, regréssus ab ínferis, humáno géneri serénus illúxit,
Who, returning from hell, humanity’s children serenely illumines,
et vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculórum.
And lives and reigns in ages of ages.
First off, grammatically ‘lucifer’ is being spoken about, not addressed. It is not saying to Lucifer that Christ is his son, but rather that Christ is Lucifer! Yikes and Hmm…, seems odd…. Let’s find out what lucifer means. While we tend to think it’s the name of the devil, that isn’t actually the case. Lucifer is a Latin word found (amongst other places) in the Vulgate Bible produced by St. Jerome. It means simply ‘light bearer’. The ancient Latins referred to the morning star (Venus) as the light bearer because it rises very brightly just before the sun. The morning star seemingly heralds and brings the sun. It was pulled into the King James Version in Isaiah 14:12 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” This passage is referring in the literal sense, not to the devil, but to the king of Babylon. We know this quite clearly from verse 4, “thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say…“. Traditionally it has been seen as referring to Satan, in the spiritual sense, which is how it came to be thought of as his name. One might ask why the KJV, a “translation out of the original tongues” uses a Latin transliteration in the Old Testament? Latin is after all one of those nasty popish things.
‘Lucifer’ occurs 4 other times in the Vulgate. In Job 11:17 “…orieris ut lucifer.”, “… thou shall rise as the daystar.” The KJV has “thou shall shine forth, thou shall be as the morning.” Job 38:32 “…luciferum in tempore…”, “…the daystar in its time…” here the KJV leaves the Hebrew word untranslated, “Mazzaroth in his season”. Psalm 109/110:3 “Ante luciferum, genui te.”, “Before the daystar I begot thee.” This psalm has traditionally been interpreted as a prophetic reference to Christ, here referring to his preexistence. The KJV has “thou hast the dew of thy youth”.
Lastly and most problematic, for those wanting lucifer to be exclusively the devil, in the Vulgate 2 Peter 1:19 reads:
Et habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem : cui benefacitis attendentes quasi lucernæ lucenti in caliginoso donec dies elucescat, et lucifer oriatur in cordibus vestris :
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Apparently the Apostle Peter wants Lucifer to shine in our hearts! Is this Lucifer the devil, or is it Christ? I think this sufficiently demonstrates that “Lucifer” is not the proper name of the devil. Furthermore to use it as his title, seems to me endorses him as light.
Ok, let’s finish our translation of the allegedly satanic invocation, and also make the word order better for English. Still quite literal though.
Flammas eius lúcifer matutínus invéniat – May this, your flame be found by (him, light bringer of the morning) the morning star.
ille, inquam, lúcifer, qui nescit occásum. – I say, the (light bearer) morning star, who knows not setting.
Christus Fílius tuus, – Christ your Son,
qui, regréssus ab ínferis, humáno géneri serénus illúxit, – Who, returning from hell, enlightens the children of mankind,
et vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculórum. – Who lives and reigns unto the ages of ages.