VSI is working to promote the study of Latin and Greek, following the principles laid down by Pope St John XXIII in the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia. We have undertaken this work because we share the vision which the Pope outlines in this document, that the Latin and Greek writings of both pagan and Christian authors contain timeless wisdom which is valuable in every age, and we want to make these treasures available to everyone.
We offer online classes which anyone can attend, from the first beginnings of the sacred languages to more advanced reading courses on specific authors, texts and topics. We also offer three summer workshops each year, in which participants can spend a week learning to speak Latin with the staff and fellow students. Our website provides various resources such as a page of Latin prayers with video recordings, plus a daily blog about topics related to Latin, the Church and/or classical history.
Latin is a risen language, like the Founder of the Church. If Latin died as a pagan language, it rose again as a Christian language. It is of course true that Latin is no longer spoken by anyone as a truly native which they learn from infancy; such languages are often called “dead.” But in the life of the Western Church, Latin rose from its native-language death to become a universal language, by which all the Church’s members shared in Her prayer life, Her spiritual life, and Her intellectual life. We believe all Catholics must have as much access to that life as possible.
The Church transcends time. It was created by its Founder to do just that. It therefore embraces the fullness of its spiritual and cultural inheritance from all times. It is diminished and less effective in its mission if it treats the current age as if it were the only age, discounting the collected wisdom of all prior ages for the sake of passing “contemporaneanism.” The use of a language that transcends time and nationality helps the Church remain true to itself, its mission, and its Founder.
The Second Vatican Council says fairly little about Latin, precisely because Veterum Sapientia was so new (only eight months old) when the Council began. Pope John promulgated it so authoritatively, that prelates felt at the time that there was no need to say much more about it. But it was certainly not part of the Council’s vision that the use of Latin should be eclipsed, either within the liturgy, or in the general life of the Church. The promotion of the study and use of Latin does not in any way go against Pope Francis’ stated intention to defend the legacy of the Second Vatican Council, since attempting to consign Latin to the dustbin does not fulfill the wishes of the Council.
VSI is first of all about the study of the Latin language, rather than any liturgical form. The cultivation of Latin is fully in harmony with the liturgical vision of the Council. It has always been permitted to celebrate post-Conciliar reformed liturgy in Latin; indeed, it was the Council’s intention that the great tradition of sacred music in Latin should continue and flourish.
Certainly not. The Church to this day requires all clergy to know Latin. If anything, in carrying out our work we are being more obedient, and facilitating the obedience of others.
Yes, as evidenced by the January 2022 approval of our DLE program by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.
Yes, the local ordinary is aware of the work of VSI and supports it.
We have seen over the last several years a tremendous increase in the number of clergy, seminarians and religious who want to learn Latin, and become better acquainted with the original source texts of theology, the Fathers, canon law, etc.
It certainly does. Our VSI classes and workshops attract people of all different ages, backgrounds, interests, and ethnicities. Some want to learn Latin as part of their work in a particular academic field, and some for their own purely personal interests.