I had an interesting question by e-mail from a reader:
I was working with the 2004 Roman Martyrology [Martyrologium Romanum - there was a new edition in 2001, which it was rapidly recognized needed a lot of revision. A new edition was issued in 2004 by Card. Arinze.] yesterday and I came across some abbreviations I couldn’t figure out. I looked in 3 different Latin dictionaries (including Lewis and Short) [May God shed His light upon it for our easy consultations.] and asked the reference librarian–nothing. There is no table of abbreviations in the book [That is a lacuna for sure. I will tell my friends in the CDW about that.] and I looked in two previous editions (2001:Latin and 1946:English), which also have no abbreviation tables. The library does not have the 1962 version and its online existence is presented without any helpful front material.
Anyway, here’s the abbreviations:
– s. IV in.
– s. inc.
– s. III ex.
All of them are for death dates of saints. I think the Roman numeral stands for the century. [Yes.] I think "inc." might stand for "incisus" [No.] that is, "graven" or "inscribed," but I’m not sure what that means. "Ex" is probably for "extra," but what does that mean? [No.] Any ideas? [Yes.]
Also I came across LOTS of abbreviations of city names which indicate the episcopal sees of various bishop-saints. Any idea where to look up city name abbreviations in Latin? [Hmmm...]
I think what you are looking at here are abbreviations for initium and exitus…. beginning and end. Thus, when you look up St. Ipsidipsy (don’t try) and find something like s. IV in. that means St. Ipsidipsy lived or died or flourished, etc., in the first part of the 4th century. On the other hand, s. inc. would be saeculum incognitum… "unknown", as you find under, say, St. Christopher’s entry in the index.
For city abbreviations I think your best bet is Egger’s Lexicon Nominum Locorum published by the Vatican Press (Libreria Editrice Vaticana). It has the Latin names of places, ancient and modern. That won’t have the abbreviations, but you will be able to find your places. Also, the Annuarium Pontificium could be of service. Under the entry for each diocese the Latin name will be given, in adjectival form.
Remember that the abbreviation of place names in the MartRom are in adjectival form. Thus, the Archdiocese of my home place is called the "Saint Paulitan and Minneapolitan Archdiocese" (Archidioecesis Paulopolitana et Minneapolitana – "dioecesis" is feminine in Latin.), while that of ancient Milan is from the ancient Roman name for the city Mediolanum and thus is Archd. Mediolanensis. The bishop of the Diocese of, say, Autun, would be Episcopus Augustodunensis, from the ancient Roman name of the city in adjectival form, while the bishop of Wagga Wagga in Australia would be Episcopus Corvopolitanus, from Corvopolis (because Wagga Wagga in whatever aboriginal language it may be means "crows" and they just couldn’t bring themselves to name the diocese "Waggawaggopolis". I guess they didn’t scruple so much with the ghastly "Dioecesis Vayne Castrensis – Southbendensis". But I digress.
I always look at the Martyrologium Romanum in the morning or at least before Mass. It is fascinating to see the names of these men and women of every age who lived lives or died with heroic virtues. It reminds us that we, great or small, can really do it.
Today we find for example, the entry for St. Prosper of Aquitane, a fascinating fellow. He was a great scholar and student of St. Augustine, had his part in the "Semi-Pelagian" controversy and was one of St. Leo the Great’s collaborators. Also, we find the martyr Dominic Henares, a bishop of the Dominicans, who was killed in Tonkin, Vietnam in the 1800′s.