an act of worship to a superior being; strictly due to God alone, but performed to other objects also, whether idols or men. The word "adore" may be derived from (manum) ad os (mittere), or the custom of kissing the hand in token of respect. The Greek term προσκυνεῖν implies the prostration of the body as a sign of reverence. SEE WORSHIP.
1. The Hebrew forms of adoration or worship were various; putting off the shoes, standing, bowing, kneeling, prostration, and kissing (Ex 3:5; Jos 5:15; Ps 2:12; Ge 41:40-43; Ge 43:26-28; Da 2:46; Mt 27:9; Lu 7:38; Re 19:20). SEE ATTITUDES. In this last sense the term (in its Latin signification as above) is descriptive of an act of worship alluded to in Scripture: "If I had beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon, walking in brightness; and my heart had been secretly enticed, or my mouth had kissed my hand; this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge" (Job 31:408); a passage which clearly intimates that kissing the hand was considered an overt act of worship in the East (see Kiesling, in the Miscell. Lips. Nov. 9, 595 sq.). SEE ASTROLOGY. So Minutius Felix (De Sacrific. cap. 2, ad fin.) remarks, that when Caecilius observed the statue of Serapis, according to the custom of the superstitious vulgar, he moved his hand to his mouth, and kissed it with his lips." The same act was used as a mark of respect in the presence of kings and persons high in office or station. Or rather, perhaps, the hand was not merely kissed and then withdrawn from the mouth, but held continuously before or upon the mouth, to which allusion is made in such texts as Jg 18:10; Job 21:5; Job 29:9,25,4; Ps 39:9; in which "laying the hand upon the mouth" is used to describe the highest degree of reverence and submission; as such this posture is exhibited on the monuments of Persia and of Egypt. SEE SALUTATION.
The acts and postures by which the Hebrews expressed adoration bear a great similarity to those still in use among Oriental nations. To rise up and suddenly prostrate the body was the most simple method; but generally speaking, the prostration was conducted in a more formal manner, the person falling upon the knee, and then gradually inclining the body until the forehead touched the ground. The various expressions in Hebrew referring to this custom appear to have their specific meaning: thus נָפִל (naphal', to fall down, πίπτω) describes the sudden fall; כָּרִע (kara', to bend, κάμπτω), bending the knee; קָדִד (kadad', to stoop, κύπτω), the inclination of the head and body; and, lastly, שָׁחָה (shachah', to bow, προσκυνεῖν), complete prostration; the term סָגִד (sagad', to prostrate one's self, Isa 44:15,17,19; Isa 46:6) was introduced at a late period as appropriate to the worship paid to idols by the Babylonians and other Eastern nations (Da 3:5-6). Such prostration was usual in the worship of Jehovah (Ge 17:3; Ps 95:6); but it was by no means exclusively used for that purpose; it was the formal mode of receiving visitors (Ge 18:2), of doing obeisance to one of superior station (2Sa 14:4), and of showing respect to equals (1Ki 2:19). Occasionally it was repeated three times (1Sa 20:41), and even seven times (Ge 33:3). It was accompanied by such acts as a kiss (Ex 18:7), laying hold of the knees or feet of the person to whom the adoration was paid (Mt 28:9), and kissing the ground on which he stood (Ps 72:9; Mic 7:17). Similar adoration was paid to idols (1Ki 19:18); sometimes, however, prostration was omitted, and the act consisted simply in kissing the hand to the object of reverence (as above) in the manner practiced by the Romans (Pliny 28:5; see Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Adoratio), or in kissing the statue itself (Ho 13:2). The same customs prevailed at the time of our Savior's ministry, as appears not only from the numerous occasions on which they were put in practice toward himself, but also from the parable of the unmerciful servant (Mt 18:26), and from Cornelius's reverence to Peter (Ac 10:25), in which case it was objected to by the apostle, as implying a higher degree of superiority than he was entitled to, especially from a Roman, to whom it was not usual.
2. The adoration performed to the Roman and Grecian emperors consisted in bowing or kneeling at the prince's feet, laying hold of his purple robe, and then bringing the hand to the lips. Some attribute the origin of this practice to Constantius. Bare kneeling before the emperor to deliver a petition was also called adoration. It is particularly said of Diocletian that he had gems fastened to his shoes, that divine honors might be more willingly paid him by kissing his feet. And this mode of adoration was continued till the last age of the Greek monarchy. The practice of adoration may be said to be still subsisting in England in the custom of kissing the king's or queen's hand.
3. Adoration is also used in the court of Rome in the ceremony of kissing the pope's feet. It is not certain at what period this practice was introduced into the Church; but it was probably borrowed from the Byzantine court, and accompanied the temporal power. Baronius pretends that examples of this homage to the popes occur so early as the year 204. These prelates, finding a vehement disposition in the people to fall down before them and kiss their feet, procured crucifixes to be fastened on their slippers, by which stratagem the adoration intended for the pope's person is supposed to be transferred to Christ. Divers acts of this adoration we find offered even by princes to the pope, and Gregory XIII claims this act of homage as a duty.
Adoration properly is paid only to the pope when placed on the altar, in which posture the cardinals, conclavists, alone are admitted to kiss his feet. The people are afterward admitted to do the like at St. Peter's church; the ceremony is described at large by Guicciardini.
4. In the Roman worship it is said that "to adore the cross, the saints, relics, and images, is to prostrate one's self before them, and to pay them a lower degree of worship, inferior to that which is due to God alone." Adoration is paid to the Host (q.v.) on the theory that Christ is bodily present in the Eucharist. SEE IMAGES.
In the Greek communion they pay, says Dr. King, a secondary adoration to the Virgin Mary and the saints, but they deny that they adore them as believing them to be gods; the homage paid to them is, as they define it, only a respect due to those who are cleansed from original sin and admitted to minister to the Deity. SEE DULIA; SEE HYPERDULIA.