Sic transit gloria mundi

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Sic transit gloria mundi (sometimes shortened to STGM) is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes worldly glory".

Origin[edit]

The phrase was used in the ritual of papal coronation ceremonies between 1409 (when it was used at the coronation of Alexander V)[1] and 1963. As the newly-chosen pope proceeded from the sacristy of St. Peter's Basilica in his sedia gestatoria, the procession stopped three times. On each occasion, a papal master of ceremonies would fall to his knees before the pope, holding a silver or brass reed, bearing a tow of smoldering flax. For three times in succession, as the cloth burned away, he would say in a loud and mournful voice, "Pater Sancte, sic transit gloria mundi!" ("Holy Father, so passes worldly glory!")[2]

These words, thus addressed to the pope, served as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. The stafflike instrument used in the aforementioned ceremony is known as a "sic transit gloria mundi", named for the master of ceremonies' words.[3][4][5]

A form of the phrase appeared in Thomas à Kempis's 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: "O quam cito transit gloria mundi" ("How quickly the glory of the world passes away").[6][7]

Literary references[edit]

The 1907 dystopian science fiction novel Lord of the World by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson [8], which centers upon the reign of the Antichrist and the end of the world, ends with the words "Then this world passed, and the glory of it."[9]

Walter M. Miller Jr.'s 1959 science fiction novel A Canticle for Leibowitz ends with the world being destroyed in a nuclear holocaust, with a group of Catholic clergy fleeing at the last moment into space. Joshua, the last crew member to board the starship, murmurs Sic transit mundus ("Thus passes the world").

In Roberto Bolaño's 1998 novel The Savage Detectives, the mentally ill Quim Font utters the phrase to the main character after delivering a toast in his honor.

In Marina Lewycka's 2005 novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, the main character discovers a once-offending undergarment that had belonged to her widowed elderly father's gold-digging new wife before the couple's falling out: "Holding this tattered relic in my hands gives me a strange sense of loss. Sic transit gloria mundi" (p. 225).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elizabeth Knowles, ed. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-860981-0.
  2. ^ "Pope John XXIII Coronation Video - Sic Transit Gloria Mundi".
  3. ^ King, William Henry Francis (1904), Classical and Foreign Quotations, London: J. Whitaker & Sons, p. 319, retrieved November 10, 2010
  4. ^ Richardson, Carol M., Reclaiming Rome: cardinals in the fifteenth century, p. 393, retrieved November 10, 2010
  5. ^ Bak, János M., Coronations: medieval and early modern monarchic ritual, p. 187, retrieved November 10, 2010
  6. ^ Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (via Oxford Reference)
  7. ^ à Kempis, Thomas. "Book 1 Chapter 3". Imitation of Christ: translated from Latin into English. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  8. ^ Robert Hugh Benson, Lord of the World, London. Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd. 1907.
  9. ^ Benson (2011), page 260.