Join us for our 2024 Summer Workshops

Ab Initio/Vinculum Latin Immersion Workshops 2024

Hosted at
St. Bernard’s Abbey


Monday afternoon, July 1 through
Sunday morning, July 7, 2024


St. Bernard Abbey
Cullman, Alabama


Do you want to improve your command of Latin? Has it been a while since you studied Latin and you’d like to reactivate your knowledge? Would you like greater confidence in pronouncing Latin prayers? Ab Initio and Vinculum are our week-long workshops for lay Catholics who want to add a living dimension to their study of Latin. Our workshop series seeks to respond to St John XXIII’s call to revitalize the Latin language in the Catholic Church, which he made in his 1962 Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia (English | Latin) and its Ordinationes (English | Latin).

Ab Initio, “from the beginning”, means what it says: a first experience of Latin. The only prerequisites are interest in learning and willingness to participate by listening and speaking. Even if you have never done a word of Latin before, our experienced teachers will take you through the first steps, not by memorizing words and endings, but by really speaking the language from day one. We won’t have you reading Cicero or St. Augustine by the end of the week, but we are confident that you will enjoy yourself and be excited to learn more! This workshop is also for those who have some prior knowledge of Latin, but have never previously used it as a spoken language, and for those who may not have used it for a while, but want to get back into the swing of things.

For those at an intermediate or advanced level, broadly defined as those who have had three or more years of Latin in high school or college, we offer Vinculum. In addition to the regular daily use that comes from an immersive learning experience, we will offer classroom exercises to reinforce and improve your mastery of the more important features of the language, and group discussions of original texts be conducted in Latin, led by one of the magistri. Taught by VSI faculty and carefully selected guests, Vinculum combines a week-long adventure in the Church’s Latin heritage with an intensive, immersive experience of the language itself.

 If you are interested, but not sure whether you would be better off with Ab Initio or Vinculum, we’ll be glad to talk it over with you and help you decide. 

Taught by seminary faculty assisted by recent alumni/advanced seminarian students and carefully selected guests, Veterum Sapientia combines a week-long adventure in the Church’s Latin heritage with an intensive, immersive experience of the language itself.


*St Bernard’s can accommodate those who need to stay some extra time on campus. This would need to be arranged beforehand, so if you have any questions or concerns about arriving late or leaving early, please contact us and we can help you make the necessary arrangements.


St. Bernard Abbey is located right off of Highway 278, about 4 miles from I-65. They are an hour North of Birmingham, Alabama and an hour South of Huntsville, Alabama.

The closest airport is Huntsville (HSV) airport, 33.2 miles away. The second airport option would be Birmingham (BHM) which is 42.9 miles away.


The Ab Initio & Vinculum Workshops are open to all Catholics over the age of eighteen. For Vinculum, it is advised that they have at least two semesters of college-level Latin. Non-Catholics may also attend on the condition that they have the required Latin experience, are respectful of our Catholic identity, and use Ecclesiastical pronunciation.

People who will benefit from participation in Vinculum and Ab Initio include:

  • Latin teachers who would like to practice speaking in Latin in preparation to use living Latin in their own classrooms.
  • Music directors and schola masters who would like to improve their mastery of the Latin to sign better and teach others to sing in the Language of the Church.
  • Homeschool parents that have some formal training in Latin and would like to improve so that they may better teach their children.
  • Latin Mass attendees who have taken some courses in Latin and would like to “activate” their knowledge to be able to more actively participate in the liturgy.
  • Any lay person who has a background in the Classics and who would like to improve their fluency in the language.
  • Priests, deacons, seminarians, male and female religious who are not able to attend Veterum Sapientia.

Note: The above is intended to provide typical examples, but is not an exhaustive list. Potential applicants whose experience does not fit any of the categories above are still encouraged to apply. Such applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

A typical day will take you through intensive class work in the morning, Mass, a lunch break offering time for rest and meditation, an afternoon session combining language with games and physical activity, followed by a Rosary and after-dinner time for fellowship. Your classroom sessions will be immersive, featuring engaging, supportive exercises in speaking, reading, and writing. These will help you grow in understanding the mechanics of the language and internalize new vocabulary by using it. Classes and instructional activities (e.g. meals, games, walks) will be conducted in Latin appropriate to your level of comprehension and that of your fellow participants.

The goal of the Vinculum program is to help participants develop their understanding of Latin and their ability to use it. Our clerical faculty will offer us spiritual support in harmony with this goal, viz. daily Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary and opportunities for Adoration.

Your Daily Experience

As a participant, you’ll work with your instructors in plenary and small-group class sessions for a minimum of six and a maximum of eight classroom hours each day.

Room & Board

Boniface Hall at St. Bernard Abbey

Rooms are available in Boniface Hall for both double and single occupancy. Double occupancy rooms are included in the price of the workshop, while single occupancy room will incur an extra cost.

Other Options

Participants who prefer hotel or vacation rental accommodations may book rooms for themselves at nearby hotels or use Air B&B or equivalents. You will need your own car to go back and forth to the Abbey. Hotel accommodations are not included in the registration fee and must be paid for separately by participants who choose them.

Meals will be taken at the Dining Hall. The cost of all meals is included in the tuition rate (see below). We will try to accommodate students with dietary restrictions. You will have the opportunity to explain any such restrictions in a form which you will receive after registering.

VSI is committed to making learning the Language of the Church as widely available as possible. To that end we make every effort to keep our tuition and fees low. Here is the breakdown:

  • Tuition, Room & Board: $1100 (refundable according to the schedule below, financial aid applies)
  • $300 deposit due upon registration
  • BALANCE OWED BEFORE June 15th, 2024.

Each student is responsible for their own travel arrangements and expenses to and from the workshop.

*We will have one transport leaving from each airport the day of arrival. Participants are able to join this transport for an extra fee, which will be determined once we have an accurate number of riders. To book a spot please indicate this on your registration form. Anyone who does not select it on the registration form will not be able to join the transport.

Applicants from the same community, diocese, school, or family are eligible for a 10% discount off tuition & board. (Examples: two or more priests from the same parish; two or more religious in the same community; two or more seminarians from the same seminary, etc.) This discount will be applied by VSI staff once two or more qualifying students are registered.

VSI offers a limited number of privately-funded scholarships. After please email [email protected] for more information.


Dr. Nancy Llewellyn, PhD (UCLA)

Co-Founder, Veterum Sapientia Institute
Magistra - Introductory Latin

Magistra Annula is Associate Professor of Latin at Belmont Abbey College, coming to North Carolina after a decade at Wyoming Catholic College. She teaches Latin at the Charlotte Diocese’s new St. Joseph College Seminary in addition to her work at Belmont. Earlier in her career she studied with Fr. Reginald Foster and at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome. Returning to her native California, Nancy founded SALVI in 1997 and served on its board until 2019, directing SALVI workshops (Rusticationes) around the country and abroad. She holds her PhD (2006) from UCLA.

Gregory DiPippo

Director of Academic Development
Magister - Introductory Latin

Magister Gregorius was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, where he attended a high school which offered an excellent Latin program. He attended McGill University in Montreal, where he studied Classical Languages and Literature, and the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome, where he studied the Fathers of the Church. For 23 years, he worked as a tour guide in Rome, and for the last 15 years, he has been a regular contributor (and for 10 years editor) to the New Liturgical Movement website.

Mr. Sean Pilcher

Magister - Introductory Latin

Magister Pilcher, a native of Iowa, began his study of Latin at a young age. During various extended stays on the continent, he became fluent in several modern languages and fell in love with the city of Rome. His Latin study continued at Saint Louis University where he began his work as a translator. His recently-completed translation of the Tabula Libri Ethicorum (Aquinas Institute, forthcoming) is the first in any language of the Angelic Doctor’s concordance of the Nicomachean Ethics. He also works to prepare and authenticate sacred relics. His approach to living Latin is informed by his mentor Fr Reginaldus Foster, OCD. He currently teaches Latin to all ages in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Mr. Marcus Porto

Magister - Introductory Latin

Magister Marcus holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College and a Latin Fluency Certificate from Academia Vivarium Novum, where he learned to speak Latin under Luigi Miraglia. He is currently a graduate student at Kentucky University, studying Latin under Terence Tunberg and Milena Minkova, and works as a classical languages’ instructor, Liberal Arts teacher, and editor at Instituto Hugo de São Vitor, Brazil.