This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

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Friday, 31 December 2010

Latina Vulgata: Latin Words - introduction

I was going to call it "Latin Word of the Day" but I quickly realised that I wouldn't be able to keep up that pace, so it's simply going to be called "Latin Words." Starting today is a series - hopefully posted regularly and frequently! - on the vocabulary of the Vulgate Bible. "Latina Vulgata" is "Vulgar Latin" - the language of the Vulgate.

In each posting, a word will be chosen that is used in the Vulgate New Testament, and its meaning and use will be explained. Examples of its use will also be given, mainly from the Vulgate New Testament. I will try to give three or four illustrations from the Bible of the use of the word cited, showing any differences of use where possible.

Although the words will be in alphabetical order, at least initially, there's no claim to be exhaustive. I'm simply picking words from the Dictionary that have caught my eye, a couple from each page, and am adding in the commentary. These commentaries assume some basic knowledge of Latin, and of the grammatical terms needed to explain their use.

The picture here is of St Jerome, labouring over the text of the Latin Vulgate. May his intercession bring blessings on these endeavours to make Church Latin more widely understood and used.

The dictionary I'm using to pick the words, by the way, is JM Harden's "Dictionary of the Vulgate New Testament" which also gives the references to many of the examples that I am using. I have added occasional extra references, and for this the online search facility provided by has proved very useful.

As back-up, I will refer to "A Latin Dictionary" by Lewis and Short, which is one of the standard big books in the study of classical Latin. Actually, for most ordinary purposes, I find my little Collins Gem Dictionary to be entirely satisfactory.

For the text of the Clementine Vulgate (i.e. the one used in the traditional liturgy), I recommend Although it doesn't show the English and Latin side by side, it is easy enough to switch between them. The English text is of the Douay-Rheims bible.

For a bilingual, side-by-side comparison of Vulgate Latin Bible with the Douay-Rheims, look at (though this isn't the Clementine Vulgate, I think, but the Stuttgart version - a critical edition produced by Biblical scholars. It's good; but it's not what most of us are used to from the liturgy, and the lack of punctuation makes it difficult to follow.)

For resources on learning Church Latin, is worth a visit.

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