ILLUMINATI [ilu’mine’tai; ilu’mina’ti], a name given by the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers to those who submitted to Christian baptism (Greek; phi omega tau o’ s, “illumination”). They were called “Illuminati” (phi omega tau o’ s), or “illuminated ones,” on the assumption that those who were instructed for baptism in the Apostolic faith had received the grace of illumination in an enlightened understanding.
Clement of Alexandria speaks thus of such baptismal light: “This is the one grace of illumination, that our characters are not the same as before our washing. And since knowledge springs up with illumination, shedding its beams around the mind, the moment we hear, we who were untaught become disciples . . . . This work is called . . . . illumination by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly.”
Among the societies subsequently adoption the name “illuminati” were the Alumbrados or Alombrados, a mystical sect existing in Spain from the early sixteenth century and appearing in France as the Guerinets during the period by a secret society founded by Adam Weishaupt, professor of canon law at Ingoldstaldt, on May 1, 1776, with the aim of combating religion and fostering rationalism.