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.
2 August 2020
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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'.
"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.
Oy, from your lips to God’s ears, Padre.
Milton on the Gunpowder Plot: "Perfide Pontifex,
mitis voluisti ex parte videri,
et pensare mala cum pietate scelus".
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
Per correr miglior acque alza le vele
omai la navicella del mio ingegno,
che lascia dietro a sè mar sì crudele.
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!
There's lots of Latin tags in the Fathers, especially the later medieval Fathers. Beatus of Liebana's commentary on Revelation quotes all kinds of folks, including Virgil, Seneca, and Columella. Very educational, too.
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