Latria and Dulia

A painting of Mary holding Jesus with angels on the left and right

I’m slowly working my way through ’The Institutes of the Christian Religion’ by John Calvin at the moment and am expanding my vocabulary in the process. It’s one of those books where it really helps to have a good dictionary (or a device with access to Google!) to hand.

I came across a couple of terms today that I don’t recall hearing before and which I think may be useful to those seeking to understand the way worship operates in the Roman Catholic Church. The terms are latria (pronounced ‘luh-trahy-uh’) and dulia (pronounced ‘doo-lahy-uh’). Latria is adoration due to God alone and dulia is veneration due to those worthy of honour as creatures. The Greek latreia means service or worship and douleia is Greek for servitude.

The distinction between latria and dulia provokes an important question: Is it right to give veneration and honour to creatures? Certainly in Roman Catholicism, veneration is given to certain saints and angels, and Catholics would describe this as dulia. To further complicate matters there is the term ‘hyperdulia’ which refers specifically to adoration of the Virgin Mary.

Most Protestants would only recognise latria as true worship and would argue from Scripture that giving veneration to anyone or anything other than God alone is blasphemous. So I guess it boils down to that all-important question that all Christians must consider – is your ultimate authority in matters of faith the Bible or the teachings of the Catholic Church?

One Comment on “Latria and Dulia

  1. Hi Steven!

    I think the adoration and worship of God is for our own benefit and not a requirement of the uncreated God from His creatures.

    The one true God is unlike any of His predecessors and I believe the notion held by some that God requires worship is a legacy of old thinking.

    I honestly believe that to love God and one another is the essence of applied Christianity.

    Peace and love to all,



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: