QUAERITUR: abbrev. in MartRom.

I had an interesting question by e-mail from a reader:

Fr. Z.,
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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mark says:

    Thanks for the quick post Fr. Z! Very helpful info, but of course, I’ve got a follow up question. Is there a reference source to anglicize Latin names? That is, when I come across “Abdias” in the RM I’ve got to change it to “Obadiah” or “Aemilia” changes to “Emily.” Or with the diocese names–even if I find them in Annuariam Pontificum, I might still need to import them into English. Is there a systematic way to do that or is it a matter of guess work?

  2. torontonian says:

    As far as Latin place names go, may I suggest Orbis Latinus.


    Only difficulty is that it usually gives the modern names in German rather than English, but most of those aren’t too hard to decipher.

  3. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Forgive an ignorant and lazy question, but is the 2004 Martyrologium available yet in an English translation? Having said that, I despair of the translation of the old Martyrology I use at the moment (1922, Trans. Rev R Collins), where most names are translated quite needlessly so one has little idea of whom and of where one is reading.

  4. Gregor says:

    Not that it changes anything in meaning, but I would rather think that in. and ex. stand for ineunte and exeunte.

    Also a slight correction: corvus means raven, not crow.

    As for the Martyrologium itself, I have to confess I wasn’t aware of the editio altera of 2004. I had bought the 2001 one when I was in Rome that year, and it was quite expensive. I have tried to google around a bit, but if you don’t mind, Father, perhaps you could very briefly explain which points needed revision in the 2001 editio typica? I would appreciate that very much.

  5. Mark: There is also a book by Egger called Lexicon Nominum Virorum et Mulierum.

  6. Mark says:

    Gregor: As for the differences in the 2004 edition and the 2001 edition, “The new edition contains certain differences with respect to the earlier edition, which was published in 2001 and was the first since Vatican Council II. A number of typographical errors have been corrected and the 117 people canonized or beatified between 2001 and 2004 have been added. Moreover, many saints, mostly Italian-Greek monks, whose names have not thus far been listed in the Martyrology but who are effectively much venerated, especially in southern Italy, have also been included.” (Source: http://www.adoremus.org/0205News.html#anchor303698)

    Josephus: There is no English translation of the 2004 RM. The most recent translation I found is the 1946 one. But I’m compiling an English database of saints for ecatholichub.net based on the 2004 edition. When I finish, I’ll let you know. Right now, I’m at St. Agilolphus, so I’ve got a long way to go.

  7. Gregor says:


    thank you for that. That sounds like I don’t really need the new edition (I’ve been adding the new Saints in pencil anyway).

  8. dcs says:

    while that of ancient Milan is from the ancient Roman name for the city Mediolanum and thus is Archd. Mediolanensis

    Out of curiosity, why is the form “-nsis” used for what is so evidently a Latin name? Is it because Mediolanum is a proper name that doesn’t really mean anything in Latin?

  9. Tim Ferguson says:

    dcs, Fr. Z answers your question by pointing out that the names of dioceses utilize the adjectival form of the name of the city – in Latin, it’s not the Archdiocese of Milan, it’s the Milanese Archdiocese. So the noun Mediolanum is transposed into the adjectival Mediolanensis.

    I do wonder why the decision was made in some cases to translate the city name into Latin and in other cases to Latinize the vernacular name. In my opinion, I’d rather live here in the Archdiocesis Angustiensis, or perhaps Archdiocesis Strictensis than in Archdiocesis Detroitensis

  10. Geoffrey says:

    ICEL has told me that the Martyrology won’t be translated until after the Missal is completed. I neglected to ask if they would work on the Liturgy of the Hours, and THEN the Martyrology, or what…

  11. Gregor says:

    Tim Ferguson,

    I may be wrong, but I think dcs’s question was rather why the adjectival form of Milan ends in -sis rather than -us. The underlying idea seems to be that -us is the ending for “properly” Latin names, while -nsis is for Latinized foreign names. I don’t think this idea is correct. There are “foreign” place names with adjectival form ending in -us – most prominently all the cities ending in -polis, which form the adjective -politanus – while there are Latin names ending in -sis, e.g. Genova, Genovensis (or Ianuensis). The ending, I think, rather depends on what is euphonious. In the case of Mediolanum, Mediolananus wouldn’t sound very nice, would it?

  12. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Geoffrey, We shall all be old by the time we get these translations, and by then the Forma Typica will have been revised again, so all this work will have been in vain! How different this is to the mad rush in the 1970’s!

  13. Geoffrey says:

    Josephus, Perhaps the lack of a mad rush means we will get some decent translations! I wonder if the US Bishops will put up as much of a fight when it comes to voting on the Liturgy of the Hours and the Martyrology, as they are now for the Missal!

  14. Patrick says:

    s. in. is certainly for saeculo ineunte, \”at the beginning of the century\”, and s. ex. is certainly for saeculo exeunte, \”at the end of the century\”, which s. inc. in for saeculo incerto, \”century uncertain\”.

  15. dcs says:

    dcs, Fr. Z answers your question by pointing out that the names of dioceses utilize the adjectival form of the name of the city – in Latin, it’s not the Archdiocese of Milan, it’s the Milanese Archdiocese. So the noun Mediolanum is transposed into the adjectival Mediolanensis.

    Does Latin have this distinction? My understanding is that the inflection “-nsis” is to denote the genitive form of some non-Latin name. So the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, for example, is Archidioecesis Philadelphiensis. Strangely, the Diocese of Pecs (Five Churches), Hungary, is Dioecesis Quinque Ecclesiensis instead of Dioecesis Quinque Ecclesiarum, ecclesiarum being the genitive of ecclesiae. Clearly “-nsis” isn’t used for all proper names (see Fr. Z’s example Archidioecesis Paulopolitana et Minneapolitana), so I’m curious as to why it is used here.

  16. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Quite, dcs, all this depends upon the declension given to these nouns (always rather arbitrary it seems for non-classical names, but the whole thing seems to to retain (unlike the recent liturgical and canonical texts) a firm foothold in very debased mediaeval ecclesiastical latin. Everyone posting is right really, strictly these should be genitives, but in fact have become quasi-adjectives in the modern-language understanding of the word. So here, for instance, we have the mediaeval adjective Londiniensis, instead of the more logical Londinii, and in our modern diocese Westmonasteriensis (already in use in the middle-ages for the City and Abbey, of course) instead of the classical Westmonasterii. It is traditional and tidy, as a specific useage for place, long may it continue, but one could see the present ciceronian Roman scholars preferring “Southbendi”…

  17. Mark says:

    I’ve got a couple more questions from the Martyrologium Romanum for you all:
    Entry: Alexander, m. Romae ad Baccanas, 21 sept., 5 (s. inc)
    -Is “Romae ad Baccanas” a location like a city or what?

    Entry: Alexander, m. Romae in coemet. Iordanorum, ch. 10 iul., 1 (s. inc)
    -Does this mean that St. Alexander was actually martyred in the “Cemetery Iordanorum” or just buried there? And how do you translate Iordanorum?

    Entry: Ammonius, m. Alexandriae cum Bassiano, cf. 14 feb., 5 (s. inc.)
    -What is the correct translation of “Alexandriae cum Bassiano”?

    And yes I did find both of Egger’s lexicons and can’t find these place in them.

  18. Joshua says:

    I think “Romae ad Baccanas” means “at Rome at (some place within the City called) Baccanas”.

    For the second one, “martyr at Rome, buried in the cemetery…”

    “Ammonius, m. Alexandriae cum Bassiano” means “Ammonius, martyr at Alexandria, with (another saint named) Bassianus” of course.

    Hope this helps!

Comments are closed.