Quo vadis?

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Quo vadis? (Classical Latin: [kʷoː waːdis], Ecclesiastical Latin: [kʷo vaːdis]) is a Latin phrase meaning "Where are you going?"

The modern usage of the phrase refers to a Christian tradition regarding Saint Peter. According to the apocryptal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV[1]), Peter flees from crucifixion in Rome at the hands of the government, and along the road outside the city, he meets the risen Jesus. In the Latin translation, Peter asks Jesus, "Quo vadis?" He replies, "Romam eo iterum crucifigi ("I am going to Rome to be crucified again"). Peter then gains the courage to continue his ministry and returns to the city, where he is martyred by being crucified upside-down.[2] The Church of Domine Quo Vadis in Rome is built where the meeting between Peter and Jesus took place. The words "quo vadis" as a question also occur five times in the Latin Vulgate: in Genesis 16:8, Genesis 32:17, Judges 19:17, John 13:36, and John 16:5.[3]

In culture[edit]

The Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz authored the novel Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero (1895), which in turn has been made into motion pictures several times, including a 1951 version that was nominated for eight Academy Awards.[4] For this and other novels, Sienkiewicz received the 1905 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In the Academy Award winning film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Ellen Burstyn's character says the phrase before a job interview at Club Manhattan.

In a season four episode of M*A*S*H entitled "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?" the reference pertains to Jesus Christ. A shellshocked officer arrives at the Hospital believing he is the Christ. He has numerous conversations with the cast, including Father Mulcahy. He ultimately leaves the MASH unit for an evacuation hospital, still unrecovered and leaving the audience wanting for resolution. Thus the title, "where are you going, Captain Chandler?"


  1. ^ The Acts of Peter, by M. R. James
  2. ^ "saint-peter-on-the-appian-way". www.nationalgallery.org.uk. 
  3. ^ Occurrences of "quo vadis" in the Latin Bible
  4. ^ "Session Timeout - Academy Awards® Database - AMPAS". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of quo vadis at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Quo vadis at Wikimedia Commons