The Birth of Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on this day in the year 106 BC, in a town in southern Lazio called Arpinum. This was also the birthplace of the famous Gaius Marius, who held the consulship seven times in the late 2nd and early 1st century BC, and an unverified tradition claims Augustus’ lieutenant Marcus Agrippa […]

The Dog-Days of Summer

Since yesterday we talked about dogs in connection with both pagan and Christian religious observances in the early days of August, today we look at the “dog-days” of summer, and a Christian feast which is related to the heat of this season. The term “dog-days” comes from the Latin “dies caniculares”, a translation of the […]

Latin and a Renaissance Astronomer

Today marks the anniversary of the birth in 1436 of a German mathematician and astronomer who is usually known by the Latin name Regiomontanus. His life and career afford an excellent illustration of the multinational scholarly culture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, facilitated by the use of Latin as a common language. He was […]

What is a Plinian Signature?

Earlier this week, we saw the signature which Michelangelo added to his famous sculpture of the Pietà in St Peter’s Basilica, “Michael Angelus Bonarotus Florentinus faciebat. – Michelangelo Buonarroti, a Florentine, was the maker (of this work.)” The question arises as to why the verb is in the imperfect tense “faciebat”, rather than the perfect […]

The Latin Signature on Michelangelo’s Pietà

For many centuries, May 31st was kept as the feast of an early Roman martyr named Petronilla. Nothing is known about her history for certain, beyond the fact that she was buried in the catacomb of Domitilla, about 1½ miles from the Aurelian Walls down the via Ardeatina, where she is depicted in a fresco […]

Cardinal Pietro Bembo, A Renaissance Papal Latinist

On this day in the year 1470 was born one of the great literary men of the later Italian Renaissance, Cardinal Pietro Bembo. His father was a scion of one of the most highly ranked noble families of Venice, a scholar and man of letters, and twice served as his city’s ambassador to Florence, bringing […]

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 […]

Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio ‘Latina Lingua’

On this day in the year 2013, Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation of the Papacy went into effect, the first such resignation since the year 1415. He had declared his intention to resign more than two weeks earlier, on February 11th, during a public consistory planned to announce the canonizations of various Saints. As was only […]

The Apostolic Constitution ‘Veterum Sapientia’ (Part 3)

For our final consideration of Pope St John XXIII’s Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, the 60th anniversary of which is tomorrow, we take a look at some of the practical steps that His Holiness orders to be taken to promote the use and study of Latin. He begins by citing the provision of the 1917 Code […]

The Apostolic Constitution ‘Veterum Sapientia’ (Part 1)

Several years ago, the actor Bill Murray, who is a practicing Catholic, gave an interview to the British newspaper The Guardian, in which he spoke thus of the Church’s move away from the use of Latin after the Second Vatican Council. “One new saint he does approve of is Pope John XXIII (who died in […]