Pope Tweets in Latin

Benedict Hopes To Revive Ancient Language

By Reuters

Published January 20, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Pope Benedict tweeted in Latin for the first time on Sunday, taking his mission to revive the Catholic Church’s official language to a very 21st-century medium.

“Unitati christifidelium integre studentes quid iubet Dominus? Orare semper, iustitiam factitare, amare probitatem, humiles Secum ambulare,” the pontiff wrote.

Baffled? So were many Twitter users. “Benny, nobody understands a word of Latin! #adviceforthepope” read one response on the online messaging service.

The pope’s tweet meant: “What does the Lord command to those wholly eager for the unity of those following Christ? To always pray, to continually do justice, to love uprightness, to walk humbly with Him,” according to University of Cambridge scholar Tamer Nawar.

The message was shorter and, arguably, more elegant in its original language - one of the reasons why Latin-lovers want to conserve the tongue of ancient Rome, Pope Benedict foremost among them.

The Holy See, where even ATM bank machine transactions are available in Latin, is one of the last bastions of the language that gave rise to Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

In November the pope set up a new Vatican department charged with promoting the study and use of the language within the Roman Catholic Church and beyond.

Known for his traditionalist leanings, the 85-year old pontiff has also allowed a partial return of the old-style Latin Mass that was phased out more than four decades ago.

Once the international language of science and learning, Latin has declined in use among priests since the Church began allowing them to hold masses in vernacular languages in the mid 1960s.

To keep the language updated, Vatican produces a dictionary of modern words in the ancient tongue. “Inscriptio cursus electronici” is the vital word “email”, while “brevissimae bracae femineae” means hotpants.

With just over 5,000 followers, the pope’s Latin-language Twitter account is the smallest of his eight profiles, through which he communicates with more than 2 million followers in languages including Arabic and his native German.

However, Sunday’s Tweet was not actually the first instance of Latin used by the Pope on Twitter.

Benedict’s Twitter handle ‘Pontifex’ is a Latin word literally meaning “bridge-builder”, an ancient title for high priest once held by the emperors of Rome.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.