Sol Invictus

Various historical and contemporary cultures have venerated the sun as a high spiritual power and figure.  Several religions and belief systems have the sun as the main character of worship.  The ancient Roman Empire was one of those cultures.

Some scholars believe there were actually two versions of the Roman solar god.  Sol Indiges, the invoked or native sun, was the oldest of them.  Sol Indiges was saluted on August 9th with ritual sacrifices.  The again on December 11th the celebration was a grand feast and festival.

The Roman Religion, along with the Empire, evolved.  This process caused the concept and name to change from an agrarian to a more omniscient God.  The Roman God Sol became Sol Invictus; meaning the Unconquered Sun. The epithet “Invictus” was also used in reference to the other main Roman Gods, such as Mars Invictus, Saturn Invictus, or Jupiter Invictus.

The term, Sol Invictus, became most associated with Emperor Aurelian after he reformed the Roman Religion of Sol. At this time, Sol was elevated to one of the main deities of the Empire. His main festival began on December 11th.  Some Roman cults celebrated Sol Invictus on December 25th as the birthday of the Sun.  This is when some Romans lit candles as a part of the festival.

Eventually, Christians enjoyed taking part in the Sol Invictus festivities.  Later, early Christian church leaders decreed that the true Nativity would be solemnised on December 25th. The New Catholic Encyclopedia says, “Sol Invictus had been adopted by the Christians in a Christian sense, as demonstrated in the Christ as Apollo-Helios in a mausoleum discovered beneath St. Peter’s in the Vatican.”

Emperor Constantine frequently incorporated the Unconquered Sun as his companion. Constantine is depicted with a radiant crown. (think of the crown on the Statue of Liberty.)  Sol Invictus is found on coins that were minted during his reign. The God is appears on the Arch of Constantine three times. He even decreed that Dies Solis, day of the sun, or Sunday to be the official Roman day of rest.

The status of the Sol Religion in the late Empire as recent as the Fourth Century, is undisputed. High ranked Roman Pontiffs continued to maintain the cult. The highly regarded Pontiff, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, was among them.


The Blue Jay of Happiness suggests that you burn some cedar incense if you choose to celebrate the feast of Sol Invictus today.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, History, religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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