Vale! to Latin’s top devotee, the retiring pope who tweeted as @Pontifex

February 28, 2013

(Pope Benedict XVI’s twitter account is pictured on a smart phone in front of the Twitter logo displayed on a laptop in this photo illustration taken in Rome December 3, 2012.  REUTERS/Max Rossi )

With Pope Benedict’s abdication on Thursday, the most prominent living speaker of Latin will retire into the shadows, after doing much during his eight-year pontificate to give the language of ancient Rome a new lease of life.

Benedictus, his name in Latin, set up the “Pontifical Academy of Latinity” to promote its use inside the Roman Catholic Church and beyond and chose to deliver his abdication speech in Latin, in what was considered a model of clarity.

Around the world, Catholics can now hear the Mass begin with the words “Introibo ad altare Dei” (I will go to the altar of God) thanks to a 2007 papal decree made by Benedict to allow the almost forgotten Tridentine liturgy to be used more often.

Benedict also brought the Church’s official language into the modern world by tweeting in Latin this year with the Twitter handle @Pontifex, a term used for Christian bishops which traces its origins back to Roman times and means “bridge builder”.

“Pervolo equidem esse ut sese christifideles gaudeant omnes abs Deoque, Nobismet Suum Qui crediderit Filium, diligi perspicue,” was one of the last tweets from Benedict’s Latin Twitter account, which has more than 24,000 followers.

“If only everyone could experience the joy of being Christian, being loved by God who gave his Son for us!” was the English tweet posted at the same time on Wednesday.

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