Sic transit gloria mundi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world."


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 honours. The staff-like instrument used in the aforementioned ceremony is known as a "sic transit gloria mundi," named after the master of ceremonies' words.[failed verification][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]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The phrase was used to comic effect in a scene in the 1998 film Rushmore, "Sic transit gloria... Glory fades" delivered by Max Fischer, the film's protagonist.
  • The phrase was also the title of the first season finale of the drama series Yellowjackets.
  • The phrase was used in The Masque of the Red Death (1964), delivered by the Red Death.
  • In A Canticle for Leibowitz, as nuclear armageddon is breaking, one of the monks mutters, "Sic transit mundus," or "So passes the world" prior to departing Earth.

See also[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. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Papal Coronation 07 -Sic transit gloria mundi" – via
  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.

External links[edit]

Media related to Sic transit gloria mundi at Wikimedia Commons