“RETREEEEEAT!” Surrendering the Arsenal of the West! We need Latin!

I am always dismayed when I see that a new bishop dumbs-down his coat-of-arms, or stemma as it is called in Italian, with a modern language motto.  Of course I and some jocular priest friends suggested some less-often-considered mottos here.

Any time there is a total abandonment of Latin for English bad things happen.

From the Daily Telegraph:

Arsenal’s new motto – another blow to Western civilisation

By Harry Mount

Hot on the heels of the BBC’s banal replacement of BC with BCE comes another sad corporate binning of history.

As an Arsenal fan, it pains me to say it, but they too have joined the anti-history club. This season, to celebrate the club’s 125th anniversary, they have commissioned a new crest; as I noticed playing football with my 10-year-old nephew, Tommy, yesterday. Looking at his replica shirt, I saw that, horror of horrors, rather than using Arsenal’s wonderful old motto (“Victoria Concordia Crescit“) they have gone for the dull, Blairite platitude, “Forward”.

As the picture above shows, they try to justify the new motto by saying “Forward” is “one of the first recorded mottos related to armament and battle”. It’s also one of the dreariest and emptiest.

[..]

The only consolation I can think of is that Spurs, our arch-rivals, might also be persuaded to drop their Latin motto – “Audere est facere” (“To dare is to do”) – and change it simply to “Backward”.

I don’t have a preference for any team across the pond, but I am tempted now to cheer against Arsenal and any other team that rejects Latin.

I think I saw the Arsenal stadium.  Is it possible I passed by it when leaving Kings Cross by train for Letchworth, where Fr. Fortescue’s parish was/is?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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33 Responses to “RETREEEEEAT!” Surrendering the Arsenal of the West! We need Latin!

  1. BobP says:

    >Any time there is a total abandonment of Latin for English bad things happen.

    No truer words were ever spoken. St. Thomas More was right.

  2. PJ says:

    “Is it possible I passed by it when leaving Kings Cross by train for Letchworth, where Fr. Fortescue’s parish was/is?”

    Yes

  3. sawdustmick says:

    Yes Father, that is the Emirates stadium, just before you get to Finsbury Park. As an Arsneal fan myself I have to say that the cannon is now facing the opposite way. Some of our recent results have been pitiful and I an wondering if we have in fact shot ourselves !!

  4. o.h. says:

    Our new bishop’s motto is in Spanish. I don’t mind it, but I think most Spanish-speakers in our diocese would have understood the Latin, which is quite similar. Also it gives the effect, in a diocese divided by language, of ‘choosing sides’ in a way that Latin doesn’t.

  5. As far as I am aware, only three Premiership teams still have a Latin motto:

    Everton: “Nil Satis Nisi Optimum”

    Blackburn Rovers: “Arte E Labore”

    Manchester City: “Superbia in Proelio”

  6. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Apologies for the vulgarity, but doesn’t that change imply they’re now “arse forward”?

  7. scotus says:

    Arsenal are currently languishing in 12th place in the English Premier League, 9 points behind the leaders, Manchester United, after only 6 games have been played. (A team gets 3 points when they win a match.)

    Now for the badge of a real team:

    In case this does not come up on the blog it can be seen at:
    [Whoa... nope. Don't like that link! Shorten them up, please. HERE.]

    Here’s the explanation:
    Preston has a strong Christian history and tradition, and has been called the most Catholic city in England. One of the proposed derivations of the name Preston is from ‘Priests town’ and the lamb on the city’s shield is a biblical image of Jesus Christ, the same image that represented St. Wilfrid, a 7th century bishop and the city’s patron saint, who is historically linked to the city’s establishment. The “PP” on the shield stands for “Princeps Pacis” (Prince of Peace), another title for Christ invoking Him as protector of the city, though it is also often taken to stand for the city’s nickname “Proud Preston”. In fact there were originally three letters “P” on the coat of arms, with one being lost over time. (From Wikipedia.)

    Just to keep to the religious content:
    St Walburga’s church in Preston has the highest spire of any non-cathedral church in England.

  8. Centristian says:

    Honi soit qui mal y pense!

  9. Federico says:

    I don’t have a preference for any team across the pond

    Why not support Juventus? Forget the motto, the name itself is Latin.

  10. Federico: First, I object to the “J”. There should be no “J” in Latin.

    Also, since I lived in Rome I paid more attention (not much) to Roma and to Lazio. Since my bishop was a great Lazio fan, I would root for Rome. But when with Roma fans, I would take the part of Lazio. Just to be contrary.

  11. Anne C. says:

    Scotus – It’s nice to know that Preston is known as the “most Catholic city in England,” since my Protestant great-grandfather was born near there, in Bolton. I have also heard that there were many priests and even bishops with his surname (Gradwell). My mother converted to Roman Catholicism, but it would also be great to know if she had that Catholic heritage in her past! (Hmmm . . . I wonder which team he would have rooted for . . .)

  12. Martial Artist says:

    Father,

    Emirates Stadium is less than 2 miles north and about 0.8 miles east of King’s Cross Station. So I suspect that it is what you saw en route to Letchworth.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  13. medievalist says:

    Mark from Northern England: “Nil satis nisi optimum”.

    Sadly, Mark, as an expat Evertonian, I only wish they lived up to their own motto.

  14. Athanasius says:

    O tempora, O cancellariae!

  15. Athanasius says:

    Federico: First, I object to the “J”. There should be no “J” in Latin.

    Father,

    I object to your periods, your “u”s, your quotation marks, italics, all punctuation generally and in fact your use of am/es in the future of the 3rd and 4th conjugations since the Romans of the Augustan age had none of these either.

    J is a perfectly legitimate evolution in a living language which continued developing past 100AD.

  16. Re: no j — That’s a ioke, son. Got no sense of humor.

    People have a right to make stylistic decisions about Latin spelling. (And grammar, even.) Every man his own editorial board.

  17. Athanasius says:

    I could care less if someone says I’m not going to use the J, because that is a medieval letter. I do care if someone is going to argue the J can never be used because it appears to betray an ignorance of the fact that much of the Latin in our Oxford or Loeb classical editions in no wise matches up to the way the Romans did things, as well as appears to betray the classicist view that no Latin is valid if it does not conform to Ciceronian stylistics. Now I know Fr. Z does not believe all Church latin is useless because it does not conform to Cicero, nevertheless, I was using the satire to prove a point. If you’re going to get rid of the J because it is medieval, you might as well get rid of all the other conventions we have for Latin which come from no earlier than the 6th and 4th centuries.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Athanasius,

    J is a perfectly legitimate evolution in a living language which continued developing past 100AD.

    Interesting that it didn’t find its way into Italian.

  19. robtbrown says:

    o.h. says:

    Our new bishop’s motto is in Spanish. I don’t mind it, but I think most Spanish-speakers in our diocese would have understood the Latin, which is quite similar. Also it gives the effect, in a diocese divided by language, of ‘choosing sides’ in a way that Latin doesn’t.

    Veterum Sapientia strikes again:

    Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.

  20. The motto of Toledo, Ohio is “Laborare est orare” – a Pelagian (or perhaps New England Puritan) twist on the Benedictine “Laborare et orare.” But it makes us Midwestern Latinists happy. On the other hand, the University of Toledo used to have a very Spanish-Gothic looking coat of arms with a Spanish motto that was translated as (if my memory is correct): “To preserve the past, to aid the present, to form the future.” Now all they have is a snappy UT that looks like a logo for a bank or a software manufacturer.

  21. James Joseph says:

    True Story….

    My barber is a Mexican fella who I happened to give a ride to get his car from the mechanic after recieving a snazzy haircut.

    I showed him my 1962 Missale and he immediatedly asked if I was a Mormon. I told him I am a Catholic while he breathed a sigh of relief. So, he read it and we went over the ‘Salve Regina’ and the ‘Ave Maria’ in four languages. He was taken aback at how similiar Latin is to Spanish and Italian. He said he had simply never seen it, and heard it was a totally unintelligible (my words) language. He was quite pleased when I told him one only has to drive an hour or so round trip to the one of the nearby Catholic monasteries to hear it.

    He then asked me what a monastery is, and so explaining to him in Spanish. He said, “Those still exist! How come nobody ever tells us this?” (translation from Spanish) I told him… , “White people like to keep non-white people like Mexicans in a cubby-hole and that’s why you have to go to Mass in the basement despite the fact that you guys outnumber the white Catholics by a margin of like a million to one.”

    Is that a mortal sin? [I don't know. I don't know what your intention was in framing it in these terms. I think you could have thought that through before saying out loud.]

  22. Gail F says:

    The ermine field is a hard one, but the new logo is just bad heraldry. Honestly, the laurel wreath support is more important than the shield???? Why turn the cannon the other way? And what are those two curving lines going up the sides? They don’t denote anything heraldic at all, as far as I can see… It is like a heraldic device done by someone who knows nothing about heraldry. Pick up a reference book!

    James Joseph: Yes.

  23. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I believe Chelsea F.C. changed their motto to something in Old Church Slavonic.

  24. robtbrown says:

    James Joseph says:

    He then asked me what a monastery is, and so explaining to him in Spanish. He said, “Those still exist! How come nobody ever tells us this?” (translation from Spanish) I told him… , “White people like to keep non-white people like Mexicans in a cubby-hole and that’s why you have to go to Mass in the basement despite the fact that you guys outnumber the white Catholics by a margin of like a million to one.”

    Is that a mortal sin?

    The answer you gave him had nothing to do with his question. It also had little to do with reality.

  25. Dave N. says:

    “…Oooooooooooooh, Arsenal we love you!”

    Forward!

  26. Grabski says:

    Perhaps a bit off topic, but we don’t go to the EF for the Latin Language; if it were, we’d just clamor for the OF in Latin.

    We go for the substance and liturgy, even if it were in the vernacular (the new translation of course)

    The problem for Arsenal is that it abandoned its own motto

  27. Filipe says:

    Father,
    You will be happy to know that Benfica, Portugal’s biggest team and the team with most paid up members in the world (over 200k), and close to 12 million fans world wide, still uses latin for its motto. You might also appreciate the motto itself, which will certainly ring a bell: E Pluribus Unum.
    Benfica was founded by a young man called Cosme Damião. Could we put it down to divine providence that you posted this on the day of Sts Cosmo and Damian? Just wondering.

  28. Legisperitus says:

    Athanasius:

    You forgot the use of lower case letters (a descendant of Carolingian minuscule). ;-)

  29. robtbrown says:

    Grabski says

    Perhaps a bit off topic, but we don’t go to the EF for the Latin Language; if it were, we’d just clamor for the OF in Latin.

    Of course, it’s possible to say the Novus Ordo in Latin, but the truth is that 99% of those masses are said in the vernacular. As I’ve said here more than once, the conflict isn’t between the OF and EF but rather between Latin and vernacular celebration, secondarily, between ad orientem and versus populum.

    We go for the substance and liturgy, even if it were in the vernacular (the new translation of course)

    Of course, unlike the vernacular Latin itself produces a sense of transcendence–above a particular place and time.

  30. judeberes says:

    Father, Could be just a bad translation done by ultra-liberal traditional hating footballers! Give it 30+ years and they will most likely revert to the original Latin Motto!

  31. Athanasius says:

    Legisperitus,

    Touche! : )

  32. Athanasius says:

    Interesting that it didn’t find its way into Italian.

    Nisi fallor, it was developed by the French. There is a good article about it in William Smith’s dictionary (which I generally prefer to the Lewis and Short). Shortly after it became a common letter in Latin used by all who spoke it to distinguish between “I” as consonant and “I” as vowel (much as the introduction of “U” did this for the Roman “V” in the 4th century) it began to enter the Frankish languages. Italian already had a letter for this purpose, “G”, so it was redundant to introduce it. It was common in missals and breviaries until the 20th century. Fortunately, my monastic breviary (immune from disastrous messes like the Urban VIII hymns) retains the J. :D

  33. Jayna says:

    I’m a Liverpool supporter. I know that the motto’s been “You’ll Never Walk Alone” since the 60s, but obviously it can’t have been from the start of the club given that it was formed in 1892 and the song wasn’t even written until the 40′s. As far as I know, LFC’s never had any Latin to get rid of. Does that exempt us from your disdain, Father?