Posted by: rbbadger | March 4, 2010

Latin, the International Language

Latin still continues to occupy an important place within the Roman Catholic Church.  The definitive text of papal documents and magisterial teachings are all in Latin.  While an intermediate language, such as French may be used, as it was during the drafting of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, eventually the whole thing was translated into Latin and it is to the Latin text that any translation must now conform.  Vatican City also is just about the only place where one might find a Latin ATM machine

However, it is still a far cry from how things were done in the old days.  Older priests, and here I am talking about priests ordained in the 1940s, 1950s, and very early 1960s were also trained in Latin.  While priests today continue to study Latin, their textbooks and their lectures are no longer wholly in Latin as they were in the times before the Second Vatican Council.  Also, their lectures aren’t delivered mostly in Latin, either.

In 1947, an Italian priest by the name of Don Giovanni Calabria came across an Italian translation of C.S Lewis’ book entitled The Screwtape Letters.  Father Calabria decided to write to the author, but he knew no English.  Figuring that as a classically educated man, C.S. Lewis might know some Latin, Father Calabria began a correspondance with C.S. Lewis entirely in the Latin language.  Father Calabria is now known to us as St. Giovanni Calabria, as he was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1999. 

The letters have since been published.  For those who know Latin, you might enjoy this correspondance between the founder of a religious order devoted to the service of the poor and one of the twentieth century’s foremost apologists for the Christian faith.



  1. wow, wish i knew latin!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: