In the Christmas carol 'Adeste Fideles' there is a line 'Venite adoremus.' I'd like to hear an exploration of the meaning of this term. For instance, would it be appropriate to apply this word to anyone not God? From a Christian standpoint I mean. Given that God is One and he would have his worshippers give worship to him alone, would it be appropriate to apply this word to anyone other than God Himself? I guess I am asking if adoremus is the same thing as worship, or does it mean merely something like appreciation, Does it equate to 'adore' in English? We sometimes say we adore things and people other than God in English of course, but when using adore in it's most basic meaning it ought to really only ever apply to God for a real Christian, right? So what about 'adoremus'?

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    So your question is: in Christian Latin, is the term adorō ever used for anything other than "worship"?
    – Draconis
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 4:38

2 Answers 2


L&S on adorare: In ecclesiastical Latin, of the worship of the true God: adoravit Israel Deum, VULG. Gen. 47, 31: Dominum Deum tuum adorabis, IB. Matt. 4, 10: Deum adora, IB. Apoc. 22, 9; so of Christ: videntes eum adoraverunt, IB. Matt. 28, 17; adorent eum omnes angeli Dei

EDIT: Originally wrote that this comes from LSJ...

  • Thank you, this was very helpful.
    – A.Roturier
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 21:07

In ecclesiastical Latin, adoratio is the outward expression of the reverence owed to the creator (called latria, from Greek λατρεία = service, worship), but also of the reverence due to certain outstanding creatures (like the Saints, the Virgin Mary, or Angels; called dulia from Greek δουλεία = bondage; or hyperdulia in case of the Virgin Mary).

See Summa Theologica II, II, 84, 1 for St. Thomas Aquinas' discussion of adoratio, which touches on all these points.

Nevertheless, I believe that there is a strong tendency to reserve the word for expressions of reverence for God only (including His only begotten Son, as in the song). There are instances – some cited by Aquinas – where adorare is used in the Bible for persons other than God. There are several such instance, e.g., in 3 Reg. 1.

See the entry for Adoration in the Catholic Encyclopedia for a rather thorough, well written and somewhat opinionated explantion of the matter (based on English usage, but (I think) nonetheless relevant.)

  • Very helpful. Thank you for the suggestions for further research.
    – A.Roturier
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 21:08

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