Long time readers of this blog will remember a time when, to a high degree of tedium, I used frequently to attack art historians for their treatment of the Latin language. It was not so much that I resented their ignorance of Larin; many people are ignorant of Latin and I am myself ignorant of very many very important languages. It was their illiterate belief that by picking up a Latin dictionary and thumbing through the pages, they could, in complete ignorance of Latin Grammar, cobble together a "translation". A fine example of this was (I haven't checked recently to see if the howler is still there) the label attached to a cope of Cardinal Manning, mistranslating his motto. Of all places, this is to be seen in the Treasury attached to that big Victorian-Byzantine-style Church next to Victoria Station.
I have complained less about this failing among 'professional Art Historians' in recent years because I am getting older and weaker and with a lower exhaustion threshold, and tend to do the London Exhibitions less frequently. But the Tablet provides an example in its current on-line edition.
A Relic of Pope S Clement has, happily, made its way to Westminster Cathedral, a large church in what the Victorians thought of as the Byzantine style (situated next to Victoria Station). It is labelled
Ex Oss S Clementis P M
A person described as a Deputy Keeper at the V and A explained to the Tablet that PM probably stood for Proto Martyris. This is rubbish, partly because Protomartyr is one word and not two; more importantly, because S Clement was not the Church's Protomartyr. That role fell to S Stephen.
The words stand for Ex Oss[ibus] S[ancti] Clementis P[apae] M[artyris] ('From the bones of S Clement, Pope, Martyr.')
(Conceivably, P M might be for Pontificis Maximi, but I strongly incline to Papae Martyris because that is how S Clement is described in the Calendar.)
Some years ago, the V and A had a rather good exhibition on the Baroque, which was damaged by the amazing degree of ignorance shown in the catalogue about the Catholic Religion. I commented then that the V and A staff could have strolled next door and asked the learned Oratorians of Brompton for help, accompanying this, of course, with the assurance of a proper professional fee for their expertise.
The same dearth of zimmer frames applies in this case.
And I wonder if the people at Westminster Cathedral have corrected their own howlers yet. They were informed about them by ... not me, but by others. Seems peculiar to me that a Church which boasts of being the Mother Church of English Catholicism has nobody on its staff who knows Latin, but that is another matter. Veterum Sapientia of S John XXIII is the Background Reading here.