Pope Francis’ ‘Armeniam Visit” [sic]

When world leaders visit each other, they generally exchange gifts. Sometimes they get the spelling right, too.

Let’s just say that some of the mandarins in the Curia are not so great with the modern lingua franca, the language that dominates the world, the single modern foreign language one must know in addition to one’s native tongue … and Latin.

Latin…?  Wait a just a cotton pickin’ minute!

Visit could be 3rd singular perfect indicative active of viso, visi, visum, “to look at attentively, to view, behold, survey”, or, “to go or come in order to look at, to see to, look after; constr. with acc., a rel.-clause, or ad”.

So, ARMENIAM VISIT could be Latin for “He came to see/visit Armenia”.

If it’s Latin, that is.  The date on the medal seems to be Latin. Otherwise, it’s just wrong.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The place English has in the secular world is, and is rightly, occupied by partly Latin, partly Italian, in the ecclesial world.

    That said, though dictionaries do seem to know a “visere, viso, visi, visum”, it’s hardly a usual Latin word (which would be “videre, video, vidi, visum” and its iterative deduction “visitare, o, avi, atum” from whence English “to visit”).

  2. DonL says:

    Goodness, haven’t many of us already traveled to Armemia?

  3. allenmurphy says:

    But if it referred to a visit the verb would probably be from visito, indicating a visit, and not from viso, beholding or seeing

  4. VexillaRegis says:

    Why on Earth would an Italian/Spanish speaking Pope who goes to Armenia bring a gift with an inscription in English?? Of course it’s Latin.

  5. pseudomodo says:

    And instant collectors item!!

    Like miss-printed banknotes.

  6. crych says:

    Accusative of end of motion without ‘ad’ when destination is a country? Not classical, though Tacitus uses it. In fact, ‘in Armeniam’ would be better, showing that the HF went into the heart of the country and not just to the border. [I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the Latin is in good classical style.] In any case, both ‘Armenia visit’ and ‘Armenian visit’ are pretty sketchy English, though the form is now widely used.

  7. Cory says:

    In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave something similar to the U.S. bishops when he visited. My bishop generously gave me one of the 5 he received. On it, it says ‘invisit” instead of just ‘visit.”

  8. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    What medallion punctuation or abbreviation conventions are there, if any generally accepted ones, I wonder? E.g., if “VISIT” is short for ‘ Visitatio’, would not one expect the genitive (‘Armeniae’), or an ‘ad’ before this accusative (assuming it is one)? And what form(s) of ‘vicesimus quartus’ (or ‘quattuor et vicesimus’) and ‘v. sextus’ or ‘ sex et v.’ might be intended by the numerals ?

    In any case, a nice depiction of St. Gregory the Illuminator (quite like the one in the mosaic in one of the lesser domes of the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos in Constantinople – currently a museum).

  9. Jacob says:

    Father Z, did you ever have a chance to comment on the Holy Father naming St. Gregory of Narek a doctor of the Church?

    Sandro Magister had an article the other day saying that the HF was no longer using the word ‘genocide’ in relation to the Armenians. But now today, Magister notes that during the visit to the presidential palace, Francis used the word, ad libbing from his prepared comments.

  10. Gerard Plourde says:

    It’s certainly not uncommon for Latin inscriptions on coins to be abbreviated. British and Canadian coins provide ready contemporary examples. If one looks at classical coinage it’s also common for the abbreviations to lack punctuation.

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