Medieval Latin Science Fiction

In Ireland, today is the feast of a Sainted monk named Brendan, who is traditionally said to have been born in Clonfert in the year 484, and to have died in 577 at the age of 94. He is sometimes called “the Younger” to distinguish him from another Brendan, of Birr, or “the Elder.” They […]

The Column of Constantine in New Rome

Two days ago, we marked the anniversary of the dedication of Constantinople in 330 AD as the “New Rome.” In the nearly 17 centuries that have passed since then, the city has undergone innumerable vicissitudes which have done tremendous damage to its monuments, and very little now remains from the days of Constantine himself. The […]

A Homily by St Gregory the Great Carved in Stone

Today is the feast of two Roman Saints named Nereus and Achilleus. An inscription placed over their burial place by Pope St Damasus I (366-84) tells us that they were soldiers who were forced to participate in the persecution of the Christians, but threw away their weapons and armor, and were in turn martyred for […]

The Dedication of Constantinople

On this day in 330 AD, the emperor Constantine presided over the dedication of a new capital of the Roman Empire, after six years of building on the site of the ancient city of Byzantium. Herodotus places the founding of Byzantium in 656 B.C., and in 334 AD, Constantine also presided over celebrations of its […]

The Prodigious Memory of St Antoninus

Today is the feast of St Antoninus, a Dominican friar who became archbishop of Florence in 1446, and died in that office in 1459. He was born in Florence in 1389, and christened “Antonio”, but because of his small stature, was always known by the diminutive form “Antonino.” The bull of his canonization, issued by […]

St Gregory of Nazianzus, the Teacher of St Jerome

On the liturgical calendar of the usus antiquior, today is the feast of the bishop St Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the most important theologians of the fourth century. He, his close friend St Basil the Great, and Basil’s younger brother, St Gregory of Nyssa, are collectively known as the Cappadocian Fathers, after the region […]

Treasures of the Cotton Library

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1631 of Sir Robert Cotton, the creator of a famous and very important collection of books and manuscripts. On Wednesday, we described the arrangement of the collection, and how the items were given call numbers based on the busts of the Roman emperors mounted above the bookcases. […]

An Excellent Homily on the Use of Latin in the Mass

VSI is very grateful to Fr Brian Becker, pastor of St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Swannanoa, North Carolina, and Vocations Promoter for the Diocese of Charlotte, for his kind permission to share this video of the Mass celebrated at his church this past Sunday. The subject of his homily, which begins at 29:20, is the […]

The Cotton Collection of the British Library

I recently illustrated an article with an image of a manuscript in the British Library which is designated as “Cotton Vesp. d. xii.” The “Vesp.” here stands for the name of the Roman emperor Vespasian, for a rather interesting reason, connected to the collection from which it originally came. When King Henry VIII of England dissolved […]

St Helena, Evelyn Waugh, and the Finding of the Cross

In 1950, the English writer Evelyn Waugh published his only historical novel, Helena, a fictionalized account of the life of the Emperor Constantine’s mother, and her discovery of the relics of the True Cross. For well over a millennium, this event was celebrated with a feast day on May 3rd, the Finding of the Cross; […]