Ecclesiastical Latin

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Ecclesiastical Latin
Church Latin, Liturgical Latin
Native to Never spoken as a native language; other uses vary widely by period and location
Extinct Still used for many purposes, mostly as a liturgical language of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, as well as in the Anglican Churches, Lutheran Churches, and Methodist Churches.[1] Also used in the Western Orthodox Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church.[2]
Latin
Official status
Official language in
Holy See
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None
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Ecclesiastical Latin, also called Liturgical Latin or Church Latin, is the form of Latin that is used in the Roman and the other Latin rites of the Catholic Church, as well as in the Anglican Churches, Lutheran Churches, Methodist Churches,[1] and the Western Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church,[2] for liturgical purposes. It is distinguished from Classical Latin by some lexical variations, a simplified syntax and, commonly, a pronunciation that is based on Italian.

The Ecclesiastical Latin that is used in theological works, liturgical rites and dogmatic proclamations varies in style: syntactically simple in the Vulgate Bible, hieratic in the Roman Canon of the Mass, terse and technical in Aquinas' Summa Theologica and Ciceronian in Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter Fides et Ratio.

Ecclesiastical Latin is the official language of the Vatican and the only surviving sociolect of spoken Latin.

Usage[edit]

The Church issued the dogmatic definitions of the first seven General Councils in Greek. Even in Rome, Greek remained at first the language of the liturgy and the language in which the first popes wrote. During the Late Republic and the Early Empire, educated Roman citizens were generally fluent in Greek, but state business was conducted in Latin. As the Roman Empire split between East and West (and the Roman Church itself split along similar lines) during the 4th century, the Western Empire began to reject the use of Greek in most aspects of life, considering Greek to be the language of the Eastern Empire. The Western Church (today the Roman Catholic Church) converted its liturgy to Latin, then seen as the language of the people of Italy, in an act of solidarity with the rest of Western society. From that point forward, Latin was the Western Church's official language.

Latin is no longer in common use as a spoken language. Accordingly, the meaning of its words is less subject to change over time. Since Latin is spoken as a native language by no modern community, the language is considered a universal, internally-consistent means of communication, without regional bias.[3]

Especially since the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (1962–1965), the Catholic Church no longer uses Latin exclusively in its Roman and Ambrosian liturgies and other Latin rites. As early as 1913, the Catholic Encyclopedia commented that Latin was starting to be replaced by vernacular languages. However, the Church still produces its official liturgical texts in Latin, which provide a single clear point of reference for translations into all other languages. The same holds for the official texts of canon law and many other doctrinal and pastoral communications and directives of the Holy See (and the Pope), such as encyclical letters, motu proprios, and declarations ex cathedra.

The Holy See has for some centuries usually drafted documents in a modern language, but the authoritative text, published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, is usually in Latin. Some texts may be published initially in a modern language and be later revised, according to a Latin version (or “editio typica”), after this Latin version is published. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was drafted and published, in 1992, in French. The Latin text appeared only five years later, in 1997, and the French text was corrected to match the Latin version, which is regarded as the official text. The Latin-language department of the Vatican Secretariat of State (formerly the Secretaria brevium ad principes et epistolarum latinarum) is charged with the preparation in Latin of papal and curial documents. Occasionally the official text is published in a modern language, e.g., the well-known edict Tra le sollecitudini[4] (1903) by Pope Pius X (in Italian) and Mit brennender Sorge (1937) by Pope Pius XI (in German).

The rule now in force on the use of Latin in the Eucharistic liturgy of the Roman Rite states Mass is celebrated either in Latin or in another language, provided that the liturgical texts used have been approved according to the norm of law. Except for celebrations of the Mass that are scheduled by the ecclesiastical authorities to take place in the language of the people, priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin.[5]

After the Reformation, in the Lutheran Churches, Latin was retained as the language of the Mass for weekdays, although for the Sunday Sabbath, the Deutsche Messe was to be said.[6] In Geneva, among the Reformed Churches, "persons called before the consistory to prove their faith answered by reciting the Paternoster, the Ave Maria, and the Credo in Latin."[6] In the Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer was published in Latin, alongside English.[1] John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Churches, "used Latin text in doctrinal writings",[1] as Martin Luther and John Calvin did in their era.[1] In the training of Protestant clergy in Württemberg, as well as in the Rhineland, universities instructed divinity students in Latin and their examinations were conducted in this language.[6] The University of Montauban under Reformed auspcices, required that seminarians complete two theses, with one being in Latin and as such, Reformed ministers were "Latinist by training", comparable to Roman Catholic seminarians.[6]

Comparison with Classical Latin[edit]

Written Church Latin does not differ radically from Classical Latin. The study of the language of Cicero and Virgil is adequate to understand Church Latin. However, those interested only in ecclesiastical texts may prefer to limit the time they devote to ancient authors, whose vocabulary covers matters of importance in that period but appear less frequently in Church documents.

In many countries, those who speak Latin for liturgical or other ecclesiastical purposes use the pronunciation that has become traditional in Rome by giving the letters the value they have in modern Italian but without distinguishing between open and close "E" and "O". "AE" and "OE" coalesce with "E"; before them and "I", "C" and "G" are pronounced /t͡ʃ/ (English "CH") and /d͡ʒ/ (English "J"), respectively. "TI" before a vowel is generally pronounced /tsi/ (unless preceded by "S", "T" or "X"). Such speakers pronounce consonantal "V" (not written as "U") as /v/ as in English, and double consonants are pronounced as such. The distinction in Classical Latin between long and short vowels is ignored, and instead of the 'macron', a horizontal line to mark the long vowel, an acute accent is used for stress. The first syllable of two-syllable words is stressed; in longer words, an acute accent is placed over the stressed vowel: adorémus 'let us adore'; Dómini 'of the Lord'.[7]

Ecclesiastics in some countries follow slightly different traditions. For instance, in Slavic and German-speaking countries, "C" commonly receives the value of /ts/ before "E" and "I", and speakers pronounce "G" in all positions hard, never as /d͡ʒ/ (English "J") . (See also Latin regional pronunciation and Latin spelling and pronunciation: Ecclesiastical pronunciation.)

Language materials[edit]

The complete text of the Bible in Latin, the revised Vulgate, appears at Nova Vulgata - Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio.[8] Another site[9] gives the entire Bible, in the Douay version, verse by verse, accompanied by the Vulgate Latin of each verse.

In 1976, the Latinitas Foundation[10] (Opus Fundatum Latinitas in Latin) was established by Pope Paul VI to promote the study and use of Latin. Its headquarters are in Vatican City. The foundation publishes an eponymous quarterly in Latin. The foundation also published a 15,000-word Italian-Latin Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis (Dictionary of Recent Latin), which provides Latin coinages for modern concepts, such as a bicycle (birota), a cigarette (fistula nicotiana), a computer (instrumentum computatorium), a cowboy (armentarius), a motel (deversorium autocineticum), shampoo (capitilavium), a strike (operistitium), a terrorist (tromocrates), a trademark (ergasterii nota), an unemployed person (invite otiosus), a waltz (chorea Vindobonensis), and even a miniskirt (tunicula minima) and hot pants (brevissimae bracae femineae). Some 600 such terms extracted from the book appear on a page[11] of the Vatican website. The Latinitas Foundation was superseded by the Pontifical Academy for Latin (Latin: Pontificia Academia Latinitatis) in 2012.

Current use[edit]

Latin remains the official language of the Holy See and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.[12] Until the 1960s and still later in Roman colleges like the Gregorian, Roman Catholic priests studied theology using Latin textbooks, and the language of instruction in many seminaries was also Latin, which was seen as the language of the Church Fathers. The use of Latin in pedagogy and in theological research, however, has since declined. Nevertheless, canon law requires for seminary formation to provide for a thorough training in Latin,[13] though "the use of Latin in seminaries and pontifical universities has now dwindled to the point of extinction."[14] Latin was still spoken in recent international gatherings of Roman Catholic leaders, such as the Second Vatican Council, and it is still used at conclaves to elect a new Pope. The Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2004 was the most recent to have a Latin-language group for discussions.

Although Latin is the traditional liturgical language of the Roman (Latin) Church, the liturgical use of the vernacular has predominated since the liturgical reforms that followed the Vatican II: liturgical law for the Latin Church states that Mass may be celebrated either in Latin or another language in which the liturgical texts, translated from Latin, have been legitimately approved.[15] The permission granted for continued use of the Tridentine Mass in its 1962 form authorizes use of the vernacular language in proclaiming the Scripture readings after they are first read in Latin.[16]

In historic Protestant Churches, such as the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Churches, Ecclesiastical Latin is often employed in sung celebrations of the Mass.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Cross, Frank Leslie; Livingstone, Elizabeth A. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. p. 961. ISBN 9780192802903. The Second Vatican Council declared that the use of Latin was to be maintained the liturgy, though permission was granted for some use of the vernacular; in the outcome, the use of the vernacular has almost entirely triumphed, although the official books continue to be published in Latin. In the C of E the Latin versions of the Book of Common Prayer have never been widely used, though, for instance, John Wesley used Latin text in doctrinal writings. The option of using traditional Latin texts in sung worship has been retained by choirs in both the Anglican and Lutheran Churches.
  2. ^ a b "On the Western Rite Liturgy | Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese". antiochian.org. Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  3. ^ Cf. Pius XI, Apostolic Letter Officiorum omnium, 1 August 1922, and John XXIII, Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia, 22 February 1962
  4. ^ Adoremus.org
  5. ^ Redemptionis Sacramentum, 112 Archived February 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b c d Waquet, Françoise (2002). Latin, Or, The Empire of a Sign: From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. Verso. p. 78. ISBN 9781859844021.
  7. ^ Roman Missal
  8. ^ Vatican.va
  9. ^ Newadvent.org
  10. ^ Vatican.va
  11. ^ Vatican.va
  12. ^ As stated above, official documents are frequently published in other languages. The Holy See's diplomatic languages are French and Latin (such as letters of credence from Vatican ambassadors to other countries are written in Latin [Fr. Reginald Foster, on Vatican Radio, 4 June 2005]). Laws and official regulations of Vatican City, which is an entity that is distinct from the Holy See, are issued in Italian.
  13. ^ Can. 249, 1983 CIC
  14. ^ Cross, Frank Leslie; Livingstone, Elizabeth A. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. p. 961. ISBN 9780192802903.
  15. ^ Can. 928 Archived December 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., 1983 CIC
  16. ^ ["Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-03-27. Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, article 6

Sources[edit]

  • The New Missal Latin by Edmund J. Baumeister, S.M., Ph.D. Published by St. Mary's Publishing Company, P.O. Box 134, St. Mary's, KS 66536-0134, USA
  • A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin by John F. Collins, (Catholic University of America Press, 1985) ISBN 0-8132-0667-7. A learner's first textbook, comparable in style, layout, and coverage to Wheelock's Latin, but featuring text selections from the liturgy and the Vulgate: unlike Wheelock, it also contains translation and composition exercises.
  • Byrne, Carol (1999). "Simplicissimus". The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. Retrieved 20 April 2011. (A course in ecclesiastical Latin.)

Further reading[edit]

  • Collins, John F. 1985. A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1985.
  • Mohrmann, Christine. 1957. Liturgical Latin, Its Origins and Character: Three Lectures. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press.
  • Scarre, Annie Mary. 1933. An Introduction to Liturgical Latin. Ditchling: Saint Dominic's Press.
  • Rev. H.P.G. Nunn (M.A.) (1922). Introduction To Ecclesiastical Latin. archive.org. St. John's College, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 186. Archived from the original on Oct 13, 2018.

External links[edit]

Latin and the Catholic Church[edit]

Bibles[edit]

Breviaries[edit]

Other documents[edit]

Course[edit]