4 January: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Today in the Roman Martyrology we find this entry:

11. Emmetsburgi in Terra Mariae e Civitatibus Foederatis Americae Septemtrionalis, sanctae Elisabeth Annae Seton, quae, vidua effecta, fidem catholicam professa est et puellis instituendis necnon pauperibus pueris alendis cum Sororibus a Caritate Sancti Ioseph, quarum Congregationem fundavit, sollertem dedit operam.

At Emmitsburg in Maryland of the United States of North America, [the feast] of Elizabeth Ann Seton, who, once she was widowed, professed the Catholic faith and gave skillful care with the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, whose Congregation she founded, to the instruction of girls and raising poor boys.

As you work through the Latin of the entry don’t forget that the phrase operam dare is "to bestow care or pains on, to give attention to any thing" and it is constructed with the dative or with ut or ne (= studere). In our entry, we see it is dedit operam … puellis … necnon pueris. So, the writer used the dative option.

We should also remember that the entry says United States of North America, because there is another United States of America, in South America, that is, Brasil.

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22 Responses to 4 January: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

  1. Another United States, this one in South America? Interesting, since the official name of the other nation is “República Federativa do Brasil,” or the Federative Republic of Brazil.

  2. Adam van der Meer says:

    Father, please correct the English spelling — you rendered it “Emmetsburg” but it is properly spelled “Emmitsburg”. Thanks!

  3. Adam: Thanks. The Latin, however, does have it that way.

  4. Adam van der Meer says:

    Mexico also calls itself “Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos” – The Mexican United States. Cf., e.g., http://www.constitucion.gob.mx/

  5. Louis says:

    “United States of America, in South America” or “United States of Brazil” was
    the official name used until 1969 in the times of the militar government, than
    it was adopted the name of “República Federeativa do Brasil”.

  6. Sidney says:

    Sometimes “United States of Brazil” is still used and I prefer it.

  7. This is indeed interesting. Sometimes in Rome I am very careful to identify myself not simply as “americano”, for the fact that, while nearly always understood as it is intended, there often are many other “Americans” present.

  8. RBrown says:

    Internationally, people from the USA are simply referred to as Americans. No one from Canada, Mexico, Colombia, etc., is called an American.

  9. dcs says:

    Is “septemtronialis” the ordinary way of saying “north” in Latin? (The word exists in English, too — “septentronial” — and is a reference to the seven stars of the Big Dipper.) Or is it a flourish? Why not “borealis”?

    And is the ‘m’ before the ‘t’ pronounced as ‘n’?

  10. dcs says:

    Internationally, people from the USA are simply referred to as Americans. No one from Canada, Mexico, Colombia, etc., is called an American.

    I’ve always found it odd that the USA doesn’t have a “real” name. But then I guess the inhabitants of the 13 original States probably didn’t refer to themselves as “Americans” but as “Pennsylvanians,” “Virginians,” etc.

  11. AC says:

    Father, there is only one true America! And you are American — period! Don’t make me get a chant of USA, USA going :) Who do you think that chant is for, Brazil? :)

  12. RBrown: And sometimes its good to be both respectful and polite. It is amazing how often people appreciate that small sign of courtesy.

  13. dcs: In Italian we can use the word “statiunitense” rather than “americano” and, though there is still the same techincal ambiguity, it also communicates clearly that you mean the USA.

  14. AC: Yes,… well… as RBrown pointed out, virtually everyone knows without hesitation you mean USA. Still, there are some occasions when you are with folks from “America latina” and it helps break the ice.

  15. Pablo says:

    Every one who lives in USA, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Paragay, Canada,etc are americans because we live in the “North AMERICA” or in the “South AMERICA”

  16. Anonymous says:

    “Is ‘septemtronialis’ the ordinary way of saying ‘north’ in Latin? ”

    I have no idea if it’s the ordinary way of saying “north” or “northern” in Latin. I have seen the word before, though, in my studies of medieval Scandinavian history. I once had my local public library borrow the volumes of the Scriptores rerum Svecicarum in medii aevi from St. Vincent Archabbey Library in Latrobe, Pa., and I saw in those volumes certain medieval Norse and Icelandic texts that were catalogued with a Latin title that included the word “Septentrionalis.” I really don’t know much Latin, but that’s how I discovered that word as a reference to northern countries, in that case Scandinavian countries.

    Oh, and I think it should be an N, not an M. Father may have been thinking of September perhaps?

  17. Joshua says:

    “Oh, and I think it should be an N, not an M. Father may have been thinking of September perhaps?”

    You will find it both with an “m” and an “n” Seventh is septem is seven, and septimus means seventh. September is so called because it was the seventh month (in very ancient Roman times the year started in March.).

    The “m” often gets replaced by “n” because of speech in compound words. Hence 17 is septendecim. Nevertheless, “septemtrionalis” is still pronounced with an “m” I believe, it was slurring that changed it to an n.

  18. Joshua says:

    “Is “septemtronialis” the ordinary way of saying “north” in Latin? (The word exists in English, too—“septentronial”—and is a reference to the seven stars of the Big Dipper.) Or is it a flourish? Why not “borealis”?” -dcs

    Yes, it is the ordinary name for North as an adjective.

    On a compass North is “Septentriones”, West “occidens”, East “Oriens”, and South “Meridies”. It is all based on nautical navigation. The sun rises (oriens) in the East and falls (occidens) in the west. In the North is a constellation of oxen (triones), seven of them so (septen(m)triones), we now see Ursa Major there. Meridies of course is an odd one, originally meaning “mid-day”. I honestly don’t know why it means south (other than maybe the course of the Sun North and South over the year, which would have the sun more often South at noon?).

  19. Anonymous: I really don’t prefer entirely anonymous comments, since a person can still post anonymously and yet provide some nom de plume for our civilized conversation. His scriptis, that is how the word appears in the Martyrologium Romanum. The “m” is an alternative to the “n”. This is all part of the pronunciation of Latin. Sometimes these nasals will shift around according to their environment, for example, whether they are near a consonant like a “p” or “b”, which are both labia1s. Languages by nature tend to simplify.

  20. Jordan Potter says:

    Eeek! I didn’t realise I’d left my name off my comment. Sorry about that , Father. And thanks for clarifying the M/N question.

  21. Victor says:

    In True Time, at Noon the sun is always exactly in the South (except in the southern hemisphere, where it is exactly in the North). Hence “Meridies” for “South”…

  22. Rob F. says:

    Victor, your comment is true as long as you are north of the tropics. Between the two tropics, the noonday sun can be north or south or directly overhead depending on the time of year.

    In 1984 I landed in Hawaii on June 21st around noon. The Sun was north of me and I promptly got my directions reversed by instinct. That instinct kept tripping me up my whole trip.

    Needless to say, Rome is north of the tropics. :)