2 August 2020

Pope S Horace I?

Browsing through the Bull Munificentissimus Deus, in which Papa Pacelli defined the dogma of our Blessed Lady's Bodily Assumption, I noticed a particular phrase on the very edge of the formal definition itself.

The pope explained that one reason for the definition was personal: he wished to leave a monumentum aere perennius of his burning love for the Theotokos.

A 'memorial more long-lasting than bronze' is the exact phrase used by Quintus Horatius Flaccus as he concluded the first three books of his Carmina: a work by which he hoped to secure immortal renown as the man who spun the 'Aeolian song' of Sappho and Alcaeus into Latin poetry.

I wonder whether any other Infallible pronouncement of the Church's Magisterium has ever been introduced in such a way. It is not easy to imagine Trent beginning with something juicy by Catullus, or Nicaea I being introduced with a line from Aristophanes.

... um er ... genre confusion ... um er ...

And just you get this gigantic coincidence: Horace's birthday was December 8, Feast of our Lady's Holy and Immaculate Conception.

When Pope Leo XIV issues his mighty Constitutio Dogmatica Apostolica necnon et Synodica cancelling e radicibus the entire (ita dictum) "Magisterium" of PF, I wonder what might be a suitable literary quotation to accompany it.

Surely somebody can offer a helpful suggestion? It doesn't have to be from Juvenal or even Milton.

8 comments:

PM said...

I cannot help you with your request for suggestions for Leo XIV, but I recall a Christmas message from the bishop of my mother's hometown, decades ago, in which he contrasted the Christian faith with Horace's 'odi profanum vulgus et arceo'.

Pax--Tecum said...

"Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbra" from Vergilius' Aeneis (6th book), for a great darkness has come over the Church, because Christ's perennial truth has been obscured from the view of the faithful.

Woody said...

Oy, from your lips to God’s ears, Padre.

Equusasinus.net said...

Alas, I cannot offer any helpful or even erudite suggestion, being a simple hermit and donkey keeper, and my only contact with the Roman poet was - in varios trips in years gone by - on the passenger boat Catullo on Lake Garda. But on the Annunciation I wish to contribute this:

It was always my personal devotion on entering any church to dip my fingers in the holy water stoup - make the sign of the cross - and say: "Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord."

Until 2020 my worst experience had been entering the side door of Rouen cathedral, where I put my right hand into the stoup and encountered the dusty dried cadaver of a dead bat.

Now, in my local church of Sella in Alicante the stoup is also empty and dry, and the Sacristan (or is the title now Health & Sacristan?) has put a pump action bottle of hand sanitiser in the stoup together with a kitchen roll, which in my devotions was trailing across the floor while grace poured forth into my heart.

frjustin said...

Milton on the Gunpowder Plot: "Perfide Pontifex,
mitis voluisti ex parte videri,
et pensare mala cum pietate scelus".

cyrus83 said...

Perhaps a paraphrase of Cato is in order: Carthago delenda est.

Although if something more contemporary is desired, one can always lift from this popular Latin choral:

Hac in hora
Sine mora

Grant Milburn said...

Per correr miglior acque alza le vele
omai la navicella del mio ingegno,
che lascia dietro a sè mar sì crudele.

Stephen v.B. said...

I think it is reasonable to assume that Monsignor (later Cardinal) Bacci had a hand in this particular Horatian tag. As ab epistulis ad Principes (from 1931 to 1960) he would have been responsable for Latin documents of 'great importance', but in his memoirs he tactfully leaves most of the documents he worked on, unmentioned. (His predecessor Luca Pacifici, on the other hand, who served Pius IX, was apparently buried with a copy of Ineffabilis Deus in his hand: the composition he was most proud of.)

It was Bacci, too, who managed to quote both Tacitus and Horace in the first paragraph of his Oratio de eligendo Pontifice at the start of the conclave of 1939... One might also recall the 1958 encyclical Meminisse iuvat!