Remembering Fr. Reginald Foster (1939-2020) by John Byron Kuhner

As yet another salute to the legacy of one of the (if not simply THE) greatest Latinists of the last century, we would like to share with you an article by John Kuhner on Fr Foster. We note this article in particular because it shows the man as he was: a great mind aflame with his passion for Latin mixed with the full gamut of human virtues and vices.

How could such purpose and passion and love not have an effect on the world, and not have value in God’s sight? Remittuntur ei peccata multa, said Jesus of one of his saints, quia dilexit multum. “For him many sins are forgiven, for he loved much.”

Papal Telegram for the Passing of Fr Foster

Sent December 26, 2020  Telegram by +Parolin to Fr. Saverio Cannistra OCD, Superior General of the Carmelite order, offering the Pope’s condolences on the death of Fr. Reginald Foster.

Summus Pontifex Franciscus nuntium accepit Patrem Reginaldum Foster OCD de hoc mundo demigrasse ad Patris domum transiturum qui complures annos in secretaria Status exegit quique innumera documenta pontificia Latinae linguae fulgore collustravit quam etiam copiose frequentibus discipulis ac largiter assiduus tradidit ipseque precatur ut meritis cumulatus a Domino ad confertam mensuram recipiat mercedem. 

Petrus SRE Card. Parolin

Secretarius Status


Pope Francis has received word that Fr. Reginald Foster OCD has departed this world on his way to the House of the Father.  [Fr. Foster] served for many years in the Secretariat of State and illuminated innumerable pontifical documents with the brilliance of the Latin language, which he also taught fruitfully to a great many students with generous care.  [His Holiness] prays that [Fr. Foster], heaped with his merits, may receive from the Lord recompense in due measure. 

Pietro Cardinal Parolin

Secretary of State

Comment by Nancy Llewellyn:

Reggie would like this Latin, apart from the regrettable “ad domum” early on. He’d certainly appreciate both the choice of the verb demigrare and its elegantly contracted perfect infinitive form demigrasse (instead of the uncontracted demigravisse). He’d also like the coupling of it with that transiturum – a future participle expressing purpose, which offers a bracing dose of futurity in contrast to the past (demigrasse). In classes at the Greg, Reggie not infrequently would run across some phrase expressing purpose and stop everything to run us through at least seven or eight different ways to say that same thing using different structures.

He’d appreciate the light-filled imagery of Latinae linguae fulgore collustravit and the physicality of that cumulatus combined with such a non-physical thing as meritis.   Oh, and did I mention it’s just one huge sentence?  He’d like that too. 

Kudos to the Vatican scribe who wrote this. NEL

Passing of Fr Reginald Foster, OCD

VSI Vice President and co-Founder Nancy Llewellyn on the passing of her mentor and teacher, legendary Latinist Fr. Reginald Foster OCD.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.

I’m trying to absorb the news of the death of Reggie Foster yesterday morning. Hearing it, I felt at once how fitting it was, and is, that he should have done so on Christmas Day — passing thus to God under THE great sign of hope and of light in the darkness, second only to Easter. My thoughts are scattered, and yet I know I must sit down and put them together now. It’s something I’d meant to do for some years, and especially after seeing him for the last time in November 2019, on his 80th birthday. If I’ve done anything good for Latin in my own career, it’s because of him, more than any other. SALVI certainly would not exist. VSI would not exist. So many works of others — Paideia being one — would not exist. And still other initiatives out there that do not owe Reggie their beginnings nevertheless could not, I daresay, have grown and prospered but that they were peopled and supported by so many Old Fosterians. More to write. More to say. And yet, for this first moment, enough.

Links: Vatican News

Fr. Foster’s personal website: