Saturday, September 10, 2005

"What's 'Give Them Hell' in Latin?"

If you've never heard the name Reginald Foster before, today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Foster, a Discalced Carmelite and professor of Latin at the Greg who serves as "The Pope's Latinist" in his capacity as head of the Latin desk in the Secretariat of State, has a cult following second to none among Curialists. And with good reason -- you will not find another of his kind. Anywhere. Anyplace.

Two generations of curial cardinals have come to learn this in a particularly memorable way.

Well, Father Reggie -- adored by hordes of his alumni and fans throughout the world -- has taken on a new fame as a weekly contributor to Vatican Radio, a segment called "The Latin Lover."

And the latest installment is our Loggia Holy Listening of Obligation for the week (RealPlayer needed to listen). Reggie's all fired up, looking forward to some lecture he had in France on Friday, expressing his admiration of Pius II and his ire for those who don't know Latin. BOOM!

His passion is the precise 180 from the buttoned-up reserve of the Radio Vaticana interviewer. It's like being bombastic on C-SPAN:
Reggie: I'm gonna give it to them; I'm gonna give them HELL because I'm gonna tell them, *banging on table* 'If you don't know Latin, Pius is MEANINGLESS!'
Interviewer: You're going to give them hell?
Reggie: They're gonna get it. They're gonna get it.
Interviewer: How do you say that in Latin?
Reggie: Deruncinavo -- eos deruncinavo. I'm gonna cut 'em down to size. Deruncinavo. It's there in your dictionaries. No, that's coming up this weekend. They said, 'Do you want to give us the text of your speech?' and I said, 'There is no text! I'm standing up and talking the way I feel for 15 minutes!' BOOM!
And the great irony of it all is this: Reggie's loved by the hard-right because he's the keeper of the old language. But, faithful to the Carmelite spirit of poverty, he wears a workman's clothes as his habit and eschews the other clericalist trappings. If he saw someone in a cappa, he'd probably go nuts -- not the Iuventutem-happy kind of nuts, either.

It's not an experiment I'd want to risk.

In an interview with his hometown paper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, shortly after the conclave, Reggie said, "I think we need a revolution in the church, but no one seems to agree," citing "the [need] to be more open to women and more willing to address other contemporary issues."

How do you say "I agree" in Latin?



Blogger Gene O'Grady said...

Is that a misprint, or do you really mean the Renaissance scholar Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, qui nomen sibi imposuit Pii Secundi?

I've always found it amusing that the point of take off for the ten Pius' since the fifteenth century was the hero of a pre-Christian epic.

By the way, I believe some of Pius' works (perhaps less edifying than some may wish) are or soon will be available in the new I Tatti Library, which is sort of an equivalent for the Renaissance to the Loeb series of classical Latin and Greek authors.

But probably it really was a typo and Pius XII was meant??

11/9/05 00:06  
Blogger Jeff said...

Nope. Pius II.

11/9/05 06:50  
Blogger Gene O'Grady said...


If I were ever to become a schismatic I'd name my group the Society of Pius II.

11/9/05 12:44  

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