Ab Initio & Vinculum Latin Immersion Workshop
for Catholics

Thanks be to God! This year we have moved to St. Bernard Abbey to accommodate our growing numbers!

Monday afternoon, June 26 through Sunday morning, July 2, 2023

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 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. 


Yes, it does! One of the best ways to learn to speak a language is to have to speak it, as every foreign exchange student with a crush on a local knows. So our living Latin experiences are held in a “bubble”, where you will hear and speak nothing but Latin.  But don’t let that intimidate you; our teachers will show you how to do this, and have a thoroughly good time while doing it.

St Bernard’s Abbey is a large facility, which can accommodate two workshops at the same time, so some of our activities will be done jointly – daily Mass, meals, and after-hours conversations, games, and singing. By holding the two events simultaneously, we hope that beginning students will be encouraged to
participate by interacting with the higher level ones, and see that you really can put Latin to use as a living, spoken language right from the start. For the higher-level students in Vinculum, interaction with the beginners will be another great way for you to hone your skills, by learning how to make yourself understood.

Yes. VSI is committed to the Catholic Church’s magisterial teaching on the preservation and promotion of Latin, as stated in Pope St John XXIII’s Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, from which we take our name. Prayer in Latin (Mass, rosary etc.) is part of our daily schedule. We are glad to welcome anyone who promises to be respectful of our institutional Catholic identity, and is willing to learn from the wisdom of all the ancients, both Christian and pagan.

When & Where

When: June 26 – July 2, 2023
Arriving: Monday, June 26 after 3pm
Departing: Sunday, July 2, checkout by noon

*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.

1600 St. Bernard Dr, Cullman, Alabama 35055

Our new home is Boniface Hall at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. This community of Benedictine monks originally came to America from Germany to minister to the growing German-speaking population. 

While walking the grounds, you will want to check out the famous Ave Maria Grotto, a religious devotional creation of Brother Joseph Zoetle, O.S.B. This garden walk-through displays miniature replicas of famous Old Testament and Christian buildings. Most famous among the miniatures are the buildings of ancient Jerusalem, thus the creation’s popular name “Little Jerusalem.”

Directions and Travel

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.

Who should attend and what are the benefits?

People who will benefit from participation in Vinculum 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.

Intermediate-advanced priests, deacons, seminarians, male and female religious are encouraged to attend our Veterum Sapientia workshop (July 23-29, 2023 in Mt. Holly, NC).

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. 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. meal preparation, meals, games, walks) will be conducted in Latin appropriate to your level of comprehension and that of your fellow participants. Meal preparation will be something we do together as a learning community in our seminary kitchen, directed by a Chief Cook who is also a Latin-speaker.

Language and Liturgies

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.


Director, Vice-President, Co-Founder of VS Workshops and 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

Marketing Officer
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 13 years, he has been a regular contributor (and for 8 years editor) to the New Liturgical Movement website.

Plus guest speakers to be announced...

Room & Board


Boniface Hall

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 school. Hotel accommodations are not included in the registration fee and must be paid for separately by participants who choose them.


Meals will be cooked communally and taken at the Student Dining Hall. The cost of all meals is included in the tuition rate (see below), including beer, wine, and cocktails. 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.

Tuition & Financial Aid

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. 

  • Non-refundable deposit: $250 due at registration
  • Full tuition: Remaining $800 due by June 15th (total of $1050)
  • Surcharge for single occupancy room: $150 ($25 per night)

Each student is responsible for their own travel arraignments and expenses to and from the workshop. There may, however, be a limited shuttle service to and from the airport.

Group Discount

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.) Each person in such a group must apply to study with VSI. 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. Priority is given to seminarians, but there are occasionally funds available for other applicants. Please email finaid@veterumsapientia.org for more information.

Payment Plan

If you need to work out a payment plan between registration and June 15th (balance due), please contact us at finaid@veterumsapientia.org.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

If you need to cancel after registration, you must notify the organizer IN WRITING in order to receive a refund. If you cancel before the start of the workshop, you may receive a full refund, minus the $250 non-refundable deposit tendered at the time of registration.