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Latria

Supreme honour due to God alone, in contradistinction to the inferior honour due to His servants, the angels and saints

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Latria (latreia) in classical Greek originally meant “the state of a hired servant” (Aesch., “Prom.”, 966), and so service generally. It is used especially for Divine service (Plato, “Apol.”, 23 B). In Christian literature it came to have a technical sense for the supreme honor due to God alone, in contradistinction to the inferior honor due to His servants, the angels and saints. This latter was styled “dulia” (q.v.). Etymologically, however, there is no reason why latria should be preferred to designate supreme honor; and indeed the two words were often used indiscriminately. The distinction is due to St. Augustine, who says: “Latria … ea dicitur servitus quae pertinet ad colendum Deum” (De Civ. Dei, X, i). (See Adoration; Christian Worship.)

T. B. SCANNELL


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