(Latin veneratio, Greek δουλια dulia)
In traditional Christian churches (for example, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy), veneration, or veneration of saints, is a special act of honoring a dead person who has been identified as singular in the traditions of the religion, and through them honoring God who made them and in whose image they are made. Veneration is often shown outwardly by respectfully bowing or making the sign of the cross before a saint's icon, relics, or statue. These items are often also kissed.
In Catholic and Orthodox theology, veneration is a type of honor distinct from the worship due to God alone. Church theologians have long adopted the terms latria for the sacrificial worship due to God alone, and dulia for the veneration given to saints and icons. (Catholic theology also includes the term hyperdulia for the type of veneration specifically paid to Mary, mother of Jesus, in Catholic tradition.) This distinction is spelled out in the dogmatic conclusions of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (A.D. 787), which also decreed that iconoclasm (forbidding icons and their veneration) is a heresy that amounts to a denial of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
In some other religious traditions, veneration is considered to amount to the heresy of idolatry, and the related practice of canonization amounts to the heresy of apotheosis. Protestant theology usually denies that any real distinction between veneration and worship can be made, and claims that the practice of veneration distracts the Christian soul from its true object, the worship of God. However, many Anglicans do venerate saints.
In the tradition of Green theology (or Creation-centered theology) animals, plants, and other parts of nature may be said to be venerated simply by taking good care of them, thereby showing honor and respect for God who made them. Creation, being regarded as an icon of the Creator, is a valid object of veneration.
Philologically, to venerate derives from the Latin verb, venerari, meaning to regard with reverence and respect. This word derives from the same root as the name Venus, the goddess of love of the ancient Roman pantheon.
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13