Who first used the term "spirit of fornication" (spiritus fornicationis)?

It appears in the Litany of the Saints (Litaniæ Sanctorum):

A spiritu fornicationis,
℟. libera nos, Domine.
From the spirit of fornication,
℟. deliver us, O Lord.

1 Answer 1


Searching the Patrologia Latina database, St. Ambrose seems to be the first Latin Father who uses the term, in his commentary on Psalm 118:153-160 (Hebrew letter "Resh", ר), Sermon 20, PL 15 col. 1575:

  1. […] Unde et Apostolus ait: Fugite fornicationem (I Cor. VI, 18). Nam qua causa fugeres, nisi illa te persequeretur? Est enim malus spiritus fornicationis, est malus spiritus avaritiæ, malus spiritus superbiæ.
    Wherefore the Apostle also said: Flee fornication (1 Cor. 6:18). For what reason would you flee unless it pursued you? For there is an evil spirit of fornication, there is an evil spirit of covetousness, an evil spirit of pride.
  1. […] Tentatus es spiritu fornicationis; sed veritus Christi futurum judicium, temerandam mentis et corporis castimoniam non putasti: martyr es Christi. […]
    You were tempted by the spirit of fornication; but, fearing the future judgment of Christ, did not consider the chastity of mind and body to be violated: you are a martyr of Christ.

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