A St. Martin’s Day Palindrome

From The Book of Days, Vol. II, R. Chambers, ed., W. & R. Chambers, Ltd., London & Edinburgh, 1864, p. 568:

“Martin, having occasion to visit Rome, set out to perform the journey thither on foot. Satan, meeting him on the way, taunted the holy man for not using a conveyance more suitable to a bishop. In an instant the saint changed the Old Serpent into a mule, and jumping on its back, trotted comfortably along. Whenever the transformed demon slackened pace, Martin, by making the sign of the cross, urged it to full speed. At last, Satan, utterly defeated, exclaimed:

‘Signa te signa: temere me tangis et angis:
Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor.’

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    So, even satan speaks Latin?

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    “So, even satan speaks Latin?”

    Not only does he speak and understand Latin, he is said (by experienced exorcists) to have contempt for those priests who don’t (and hence attempt to exorcise him using the vernacular).

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Um a palindrome reads the same backwards as forwards, right? I am missing something.

    Fish eaters translates as such….(“Cross, cross thyself, you plague and vex me without need
    For by my labors you shall soon reach Rome, the object of your wishes”)

  4. Pearl says:


    “Signa te signa: temere me tangis et angis” is a palindrome,

    as is “Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor.”

    They are palindromes in Latin, not English.

    Took me a minute, too. LOL!

  5. MmeScherzo says:

    Here’s a musical palindrome by JS Bach:


  6. Luvadoxi says:

    So cool! At first I thought only part of it is a palindrome, but it all is! And Mme. Scherzo–that is *genius*–love it!

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    There are palindromes where (next to) nothing has to be rearranged – as, put in Napoleon’s mouth or mind, ‘Able was I ere I saw Elba’, and the famous ‘sator arepo tenet opera rotas’ – and ones where, as Wikipedia puts it,”Punctuation, capitalization, and spaces are usually ignored.” In this pair, in the second, only that ‘m’ shifts: some kind of play – an image of zipping along? In the first, a lot more. I wonder how different that would look with different late-antique or mediaeval manuscript conventions of capitalization, punctuation, and spacing?

    Checking Wikipedia for possible technical terms in this context of with-or-without changing any details, I find, “Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 47 in G is nicknamed ‘the Palindrome’. The third movement, minuet and trio is a musical palindrome.”

  8. Pearl says:

    Please forgive me Fr. Z, but since others are speaking of musical palindromes I have to give mention to Weird Al’s “Bob”.

    Ok, I will slowly back out of the room now…..

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:



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