As we finish lunch we have been contemplating some potential Latin mottos for new bishops. Doesn’t it seem that many of the mottos on episcopal coats-of-arms get a bit repetitive? Even predictable?

RULES: Must be from Scripture. Cannot use Proverbs or Sirach.

We are coming up with a few suggestions.

For example….

  • Alexander aerarius multa mala mihi ostendit
  • Quis enim indicavit tibi quod nudus esses
  • Graece nosti
  • Neque in quo haurias


  • Vipera a calore
  • Noli me tangere
  • Num custos fratris mei


  • Coctione hac rufa
  • Post transmigrationem Babylonis
  • Dominus os asinae
  • Donec exeat per nares
  • Quis constituit te principem
  • Venisti huc ante tempus torquere nos
  • Quia pilosae manus
  • Sedens in sterquilinio
  • Duo ursi laceraverunt
  • Magna Diana Ephesiorum
  • Quicquid morticinum

UPDATE: Everything sounds better in Latin.

  • Centum quinquaginta tribus
  • Ceciditque Ohozias

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The quondam motto of Puerto Rico “Joannes est nomen ejus”. It’s even Scriptural.

  2. HyacinthClare says:

    Have mercy!! I can read “Who told you that you were naked?” and “Don’t touch me” and “Not my brother’s keeper” but I can’t tell what a bad lot of something Alexander is showing me , or what someone is drinking… Latinists! Help!

  3. Tom in NY says:

    “Veritas vos liberabit.” Io. 8:32.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  4. wullie1492 says:

    The story may be apochryphal, but when Thomas Winning was named Archbishop of Glasgow, he was asked by a learned Jesuit what his episcopal motto would be.

    “Christus Vincit”, replied the nominee.

    The Jesuit looked alarmed.

    “Have you considered what it means?” he asked.

    “Christ conquers!”

    The Jesuit smiled.

    “I rather think one or two of your priests might offer another translation.”


    “Christ is Winning!”

    The new Archbishop had a quick change of mind.

  5. Ad eundum quo nemo ante iit
    Clamo, clamatis, omnes clamamus pro glace lactis
    Habetis bona deum!
    Lex clavatatoris designati rescindenda est

  6. Marcin says:

    Noli tangere circulos meos

  7. Seriously though, I like
    Donec exeat per nares

  8. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Exinanite, exinanite, usque ad fundamentum in ea.

  9. irishgirl says:

    Translations, please!
    I know some Latin, but not an awful lot of it!

  10. Supertradmum says:

    A serious one for bishops….fortiter in re, suaviter in modo

  11. John 15:14 vos amici mei estis si feceritis quae ego praecipio vobis
    You are my friend if you do what I command you.

  12. Bos Mutissimus says:

    “Dic Nigrum; Fac Rubrum”

  13. Let’s have some fun with these, shall we?

    Eum volo manere donec veniam (for a young bishop, perhaps…)
    Quomodo audient sine praedicante (for a Dominican bishop)
    Currite ut comprehendatis (for a healthy, able-bodied bishop)

    That’s all I’ve got for now.

  14. Fr Martin Fox says:

    “ad nihilum valet”

  15. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Iam fetet

  16. “Duc in altum” from Luke 5:4 — “Duc in altum, et laxate retia vestra in capturam.”

  17. Gregg the Obscure says:

    tu es miser et miserabilis et pauper et caecus et nudus
    canis reversus ad suum vomitum
    insipientes inconpositos sine affectione
    et diffusa sunt omnia viscera eius

  18. RASheetz says:

    Pueri numquid pulmentarium habetis ?

  19. abasham says:

    A particularly humble one:
    “Domine non sum dignus” – Matthew 8:8

    And one that I hope describes all the new bishops we will be blessed with:
    “posui faciem meam ut petram durissimam” – Isaiah 50:7

    And for any new bishops reading these, I’ll be quite upset if I ever require a motto for an ecclesiastical coat of arms and find out you nicked these from me ;-)

  20. jmconro says:

    From Mark 5:11
    grex porcorum magnus

  21. trespinos says:

    Fodere non valere, mendicare erubesco.

  22. trespinos says:

    oops, correction:

    Fodere non valeo, mendicare erubesco.

  23. Augustin57 says:

    How ’bout these?

    In tempor volutpat (Let the good times roll!)
    Caput clericus crimen (Head cleric in charge.)
    Hircus hic sistat (The buck stops here.)
    Nihil alio modo rem (Nothing personal, just business.) (From “The Godfather”)
    Donec capitibus deorsum, et arma, odio. (Keep your heads down, and your weapons loaded.)

  24. Art says:

    Potentes estis ad bibendum vinum
    Viri fortes ad miscendam ebrietatem

  25. amenamen says:

    Adhuc multa habeo vobis dicere, sed non potestis portare modo (John 16:12)
    I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now

  26. Brian2 says:

    Non ebrii sunt, cum sit hora diei tertia

    shortned version of Acts 2:15

  27. HyacinthClare says:

    Irishgirl, can we scream TOGETHER…??? TRANSLATIONS, geniuses!!

  28. Reginald Pole says:

    Bis dat qui cito dat

  29. RMT says:

    Not Biblical–a quote from Servant of God, Father Emil Kapuan:

    Ni illegitimi carborundum esse

  30. Gregg the Obscure says:

    If ye find these too difficult, you can use a search engine. Those that are Scriptural will pull up a dual language option.

    But here are a few of my faves.
    * Graece nosti – Do you speak Greek?
    * Noli me tangere – Don’t touch me!
    * Quis enim indicavit tibi quod nudus esses – Who told you that you were naked?
    * Donec exeat per nares – Until it comes out your nose
    * Quia pilosae manus – What hairy hands
    * Sedens in sterquilinio – sitting on the dungheap
    * Joannes est nomen ejus – his name is John
    * Exinanite, exinanite, usque ad fundamentum in ea – raze it, raze it to its foundation
    * ad nihilum valet – it’s worth nothing
    * Iam fetet – it will stink
    * tu es miser et miserabilis et pauper et caecus et nudus – you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
    * canis reversus ad suum vomitum – a dog returns to his vomit
    * insipientes inconpositos sine affection – foolish, dissolute, without affection
    * et diffusa sunt omnia viscera eius – and all his bowels gushed out

  31. tjvigg3 says:

    Given the many flavors and colors of Catholics in the world: “Quam Ecclesiam” .

  32. AnAmericanMother says:

    “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” is right out! Whose team is he on, anyhow?
    I like “I can’t dig and I’m ashamed to beg.” What a motto for a bishop!

  33. frsbr says:

    Surge Petre et occide et manduca (Acts 10:13).

  34. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Dux meus Rex judeorum est.


  36. Pachomius says:

    For an English (or Welsh) bishop: vanitas vanitatum, omina vanitas [Ecclesiastes 1:1]
    For a certain archbishop who will remain nameless: omnia tempus habent et suis spatiis transeunt universa sub caelo [Ecclesiastes 3:1]

    Other general suggestions:
    triginta argenteos [Mt 23:15]
    Pater dimitte illis non enim sciunt quid faciunt [Lk 23:34]
    ipse enim quasi ignis conflans [Malachi 3:2]
    quis poterit cogitare diem adventus [Malachi 3:2]
    et purgabit filios Levi [Malachi 3:3]
    nomen habes quod vivas et mortuus es [Rev. 3:1]
    oblitus fuero usque ad finem omnia opera eorum [Amos 8:7]

    The possibilites are, of course, almost endless. If some of these seem harsh, I defend them with the (even harsher) words of St John Chrysostom: “The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.”

  37. disco says:

    Fides tua te salvum fecit

  38. disco says:

    Fides tua te salvum fecit.

  39. If a bishop’s name were Butcher, I think “Occide et Manduca” would be awesome. :)

    I think 2 Maccabees 2 is neglected.

    “Bene facietis si egeritis hos dies.” (You will do well if you keep those days.) For those who want Holy Days of Obligation on weekdays.

    “Suscepimus non facilem laborem.” (We have taken on no easy task.)

    “Negotium plenum vigiliarum et sudoris.” (A business full of watching and sweat.)

    “Libenter laborem sustinemus.” (We willingly take on the work.)

    “Multitudinem librorum.” For the Vatican Librarian. :)

    “Universa structura curandum.” (Taking care of the whole structure.)

  40. Marcin says:

    irishgirl said: I know some Latin, but not an awful lot of it!
    Not sure, it may be better to stay out of it… (e.g. Donec exeat per nares).

  41. David says:

    A former chaplain of mine once suggested that his would be:
    Foderunt ante faciem meam foveam,
    et ipsi inciderunt in eam.

  42. albinus1 says:

    Perhaps the most appropriate one for some of the bishops we’ve had in recent years is from John 11:35:

    Et lacrimatus est Jesus — And Jesus wept.

    The current bishop of Austin, TX (the diocese in which I live), + Joe Vasquez, has his motto in Spanish: Sigueme (Follow me).

  43. cwillia1 says:

    Omnis homo primum bonum vinum ponit et, cum inebriati fuerint, id quod deterius est. – Every man serves the good wine first and when they’re drunk that which is worse.

  44. frmeklos says:

    Very sad that one cannot choose something from Proverbs. From it we get such wonderful nuggets as “The stick and the reprimand bestow wisdom, a child left to himself brings shame on his mother” and my favorite, “The man who fails to use the stick hates his son; the man who is free with his correction loves him”. Would that more of our prelates would heed this advice, especially with regards to recalcitrant politicians. (Sorry, I couldn’t get the latin on these beauties! :))

  45. frmeklos says:

    By the way… Why CAN’T one choose his motto from proverbs?

  46. Art says:

    non laborant nec nent dico autem vobis quoniam nec Salomon in omni gloria sua coopertus est sicut unum ex istis

    they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these

  47. jaykay says:

    Given our situation in Ireland: “Non potuisti una hora vigilare” (Mark 14:37)

  48. Deo servire et mamonae
    Matt. 6:24

  49. musto pleni sunt isti
    Actus 2:13

  50. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    quid me persequeris

    durum est tibi contra stimulum calcitrare

  51. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    Omnes filii tui docti a Domino, et multa pax. (Isaiah 54:13)

    Patientia producit indoles, indoles sit spes. Haec spes non confundit nobis. (Romans 5:4-5)

    Fructus autem spiritus charitas, gaudium, pax, patientia, benignitas, bonitas, fidelitas, lenitas, imperium sui. (Galatians 5:22-23)

  52. tonesing says:

    Dominus flevit…

    Domine iam foetet

    Card O’Malley has the best though: Quodcumque dixerit facite

  53. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    Oops, I think I better add the translations:

    Omnes filii tui docti a Domino, et multa pax. (Isaiah 54:13)
    All your children will be taught by the Lord, and they will have much peace.

    Patientia producit indoles, indoles sit spes. Haec spes non confundit nobis. (Romans 5:4-5)
    Patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us.

    Fructus autem spiritus charitas, gaudium, pax, patientia, benignitas, bonitas, fidelitas, lenitas, imperium sui. (Galatians 5:22-23)
    The Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

  54. jesusthroughmary says:

    An episcopal motto should be no more than four words, I think. It should be elegant, and if it is Scriptural, a few words should suffice to invoke the whole passage.
    For example:

    Adprehendite prophetas Baal – 1 Kgs 18:40
    Serve male et piger – Mt 25:26
    Cecidi ad pedes ejus – Apoc. 1:17

    If you ever see a bishop with the motto “Quis similis Bestiae”, we’re in trouble.

  55. Giving to me by a Jesuit friend in the event that Hell freezes over,
    “Videat Dominus et requirat” 2 Para 24:22

  56. q7swallows says:

    Nolite ad iracundiam provocare filios vestros

  57. Wayne NYC says:

    Attendite a lupe in vestimentis ovium

  58. benedetta says:

    Beati mundo corde quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt

  59. If anyone’s looking for brevity and pith, try
    stridor dentium
    Matt. 13:50 et passim

  60. benedetta says:

    “Haec locutus sum vobis ut in me pacem habeatis in mundo pressuram habetis sed confidite ego vici mundum”

  61. How, pray tell, could something that long be a motto on a coat of arms?

    They are terse. Often they used just a few words to indicate the whole.

  62. benedetta says:

    Well that is true Fr. Z. I guess it would have to be for a very large Bishop? A giant with remarkable stature. No? Then I give up…I’ll stick with my other entry and I stand corrected.

  63. JeffTL says:

    How about “Itaque Epalemur?” Bonus points to anyone who can explain why this one would be particularly appropriate in the Anglican Ordinariates…

  64. inara says:

    Non sequeris turbam ad faciendum malum :o)

    (Exodus 23:2 NAB translation: “Neither shall you allege the example of the many as an excuse for doing wrong”)

  65. Miseno says:

    Here’s mine:

    1.) Non Veni Pacem Mittere= I came not to bring peace
    2.) Ignem Veni Mittere= I came to bring fire

  66. uptoncp says:

    For a Bishop who likes a lie-in:

    Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere (Ps. 126/127) – In vain do you rise before the light.

  67. PostCatholic says:

    Non Compis Mentis, a sort of caveat emptor for anyone who’ll pay the old gentleman attention.
    Quid est Veritas? Best question ever asked of Jesus, and a pity he didn’t have a better answer. Though of course he was a little stressed out at the moment.
    Ab Absurdum ad Populo my own take on ad astra per aspera

    Carmina Burana is a rich source:
    Quidam indiscrete vivunt. Sed in ludo qui morantur, ex his quidam denudantur, (Boston or Philly archbishop particularly)
    Tam Pro Papa Quam Pro Rege Bibunt Omnes Sine lege. Who, indeed?
    Qui Nos Rodunt Confundantur et cum Iustis Non Scribantur! An excellent prayer for the souls of bishops.

    Repetita Juvant would nicely sum up “scripture and tradition.” as would
    Saltus in Demonstrando or
    Descensus in Cuniculi Cavum Apostolica or
    Ignotum Per Ignotius

    I’ll end it there lest someone think I’m being insulting instead of humorous.

  68. PostCatholic says:

    How, pray tell, could something that long be a motto on a coat of arms?

    They are terse. Often they used just a few words to indicate the whole.

    I refer you to the motto of Massachusetts, which is ridiculously long but nevertheless on its seal and flag.

  69. Was the part about the mottos having to be from Scripture lost on some folks?

  70. cl00bie says:

    Dominus meus et Deus meus.

  71. amenamen says:

    Unum a dextris (Luke 23:33)

  72. albinus1 says:

    Not Biblical–a quote from Servant of God, Father Emil Kapuan:

    Ni illegitimi carborundum esse

    Not only not Biblical, but also, of course, not Latin.

  73. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    O.k., I admit I did not follow the rules in my original post. So Fr. Z, how about this?

    Foedum modum ranarum spiritus tres (Rev 16:13)

  74. uptoncp says:

    How about, from Mark 3.21, “In furorem versus est.”

  75. ocsousn says:

    For bishops with thick spectacles: Sicut nycticorax in domicilia (Ps 101:6)
    For bishops with inflated chancery staff: Quem queritis? (Jn 18:4)
    For bishops with hostile clergy: Amici, ad quid venisti ? (Mt 26:50)
    For bishops longing for retirement: Heu mihi quia incolatus meus [prolongatus est]! (Ps 119:5)
    For paranoid bishops: Principes persecute sunt me gratis (Ps 118:161)
    Fr. Aidan Logan, OCso

  76. Jucken says:

    “Omnia possum in Eo” (Phil. 4, 13)
    “Nemo bibens vetus vult novum” or “Vetus melius est” (Luc. 5, 39)

    The latter seems particularly adequate for a bishop native to a community that says the extraordinary form exclusively (e.g. Bp. Fernando Rifan).

  77. Ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meum (Ps 42, 6)…for a youthful bishop

  78. Hidden One says:

    Glorificetur Dominus – Is. 66, 5 – Let the Lord be glorified
    Date Domino Gloriam – 1 Chr. 16, 27 – Give to the Lord glory
    Adora Dominum Deum Tuum – Tob. 11, 7 – Adore the Lord your God
    Afferte Domino Gloriam Et Honorem – Ps. 28, 2 – Bring to the Lord glory and honour
    Deduc Me Domine – Ps. 85, 11 – Conduct me, O Lord {continues: in thy way, and I will walk in thy truth: let my heart rejoice that it may fear thy name.}
    Omnia [Vestra] In Caritate [Fiant] – derived from 1 Cor. 16:14 – Let all your things be done in charity.

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