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Dulia

Theological term signifying the honour paid to the saints

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Dulia (Gr. douleia; Lat. servitus), a theological term signifying the honor paid to the saints, while latria means worship given to God alone, and hyperdulia the veneration offered to the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, X, ii, 1) distinguishes two kinds of servitus: “ one which is due to men… which in Greek is called dulia; the other, latria, which is the service pertaining to the worship of God“. St. Thomas (II-II, Q. ciii, a. 3) bases the distinction on the difference between God‘s supreme dominion and that which one man may exercise over another. Catholic theologians insist that the difference is one of kind and not merely of degree; dulia and latria being as far apart as are the creature and the Creator. Leibniz, though a Protestant, recognizes the “discrimen infinitum atque immensum between the honor which is due to God and that which is shown to the saints, the one being called by theologians, after Augustine’s example, latria, the other dulia”; and he further declares that this difference should “not only be inculcated in the minds of hearers and learners, but should also be manifested as far as possible by outward signs” (Syst. theol., p. 184). A further distinction is made between dulia in the absolute sense, the honor paid to persons, and dulia in the relative sense, the honor paid to inanimate objects, such as images and relics. With regard to the saints, dulia includes veneration and invocation; the former being the honor paid directly to them, the latter having primarily in view the petitioner’s advantage. More detailed explanation of dulia and the reasons for which it is shown to persons or things will be found in the articles Veneration of Images. Relics. Saints. See also Adoration and Christian Worship.

E. A. PACE


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