Latin’s revival

VATICAN CITY — Surprisingly, the pope’s own Latinist had nothing to do with the recent birth of Latin on the Vatican’s official Web site.

Wisconsin native Carmelite Father Reginald Foster told CNS the other day he didn’t have a hand in the birth of the new “Sancta Sedes” section on, but he said he was thrilled it had happened. 

Fr. Reggie works in the Latin-language section of the the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and has been translating papal texts into Latin for 30 years. He said he could never understand why, until now, papal and Vatican documents “would come out and people couldn’t find them in Latin.” 

“Well, someone maybe caught on and fixed the thing,” he said.

He also senses there is “renewed interest” in this so-called dead language, but nothing like the old days when there used to be a 10-minute news show in Latin that aired daily on Vatican Radio.  After it was suspended he said “People were saying ‘What’s this! How’s this possible?!'”

For now, Latin lovers will have to content themselves with Fr. Reggie’s weekly program “The Latin Lover” on Vatican Radio or they can come to Rome and study Latin with the Carmelite priest at his own academy or they can go online and see what it’s all about.

After all, not only is it still the official language of the Vatican, quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur !

(which means “whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.”)

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