Hoping to revive an ancient tongue, Pope tweets in Latin

ROME Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:07pm IST

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leads his Angelus prayer from the window of his private apartment in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leads his Angelus prayer from the window of his private apartment in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

Related Topics

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Benedict tweeted in Latin for the first time on Sunday, taking his mission to revive the Catholic Church's official language to a very 21st-century medium.

"Unitati christifidelium integre studentes quid iubet Dominus? Orare semper, iustitiam factitare, amare probitatem, humiles Secum ambulare," the pontiff wrote.

Baffled? So were many Twitter users. "Benny, nobody understands a word of Latin! #adviceforthepope" read one response on the online messaging service.

The pope's tweet meant: "What does the Lord command to those wholly eager for the unity of those following Christ? To always pray, to continually do justice, to love uprightness, to walk humbly with Him," according to University of Cambridge scholar Tamer Nawar.

The message was shorter and, arguably, more elegant in its original language - one of the reasons why Latin-lovers want to conserve the tongue of ancient Rome, Pope Benedict foremost among them.

The Holy See, where even ATM bank machine transactions are available in Latin, is one of the last bastions of the language that gave rise to Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

In November the pope set up a new Vatican department charged with promoting the study and use of the language within the Roman Catholic Church and beyond.

Known for his traditionalist leanings, the 85-year old pontiff has also allowed a partial return of the old-style Latin Mass that was phased out more than four decades ago.

Once the international language of science and learning, Latin has declined in use among priests since the Church began allowing them to hold masses in vernacular languages in the mid 1960s.

To keep the language updated, Vatican produces a dictionary of modern words in the ancient tongue. "Inscriptio cursus electronici" is the vital word "email", while "brevissimae bracae femineae" means hotpants.

With just over 5,000 followers, the pope's Latin-language Twitter account is the smallest of his eight profiles, through which he communicates with more than 2 million followers in languages including Arabic and his native German.

However, Sunday's Tweet was not actually the first instance of Latin used by the Pope on Twitter.

Benedict's Twitter handle 'Pontifex' is a Latin word literally meaning "bridge-builder", an ancient title for high priest once held by the emperors of Rome.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

COAL SCAM

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Rice Bucket Challenge

Rice Bucket Challenge

In India, rice replaces ice in bucket challenge  Full Article 

Power Crisis

Power Crisis

Indian power station coal stocks lowest since 2012 blackouts.  Full Article 

Bollywood Watch

Bollywood Watch

Movie Review: Raja Natwarlal.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Reliance plans $13 billion ln projects including new refinery.  Full Article 

Indian Super league

Indian Super league

Del Piero signs for Delhi.  Full Article 

Power Play

Power Play

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif distances himself from army as crisis drags on.  Full Article 

Health Crisis

Health Crisis

Ebola outbreak reaches Senegal, riots break out in Guinea.  Full Article 

Ukraine Fighting

Ukraine Fighting

Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage