BOOK: The Devil Hates Latin

The title of this book intrigued me from the start, since it is a phrase that I have written many times.  It came out last year (I’m surprised that I wasn’t alerted, frankly).

The Devil Hates Latin by Katherine Galgano (which strikes me as a nom de plume).


A Kindle version is available.  Do you not have a Kindle yet?  Sheesh. US HERE – UK HERE

Here is a quick read which will appeal immediately to the more traditional among you, but which could be a strong cup of wake up for the more liberal among you.

It strikes me as having been written with a heavily female ex-pat perspective, which is fine. Women stress some things that men don’t.  As someone who lived in Rome as long as I did, I see what’s going on pretty easily and she get’s a lot right.  The plot takes a while to develop, as many characters are introduced one by one, each one having grim circumstances.  It’s hard, at first, to see how the threads will eventually come together.

BTW… you’ll probably not want to live in Rome after reading a few pages of this book.  As a matter of fact, it deals with some awful stuff.  The line, “Hopelessness, cynicism and disappointment bit deeply into the fabric of Italian life, and like some airborne malaise, drifted through the windows of the Pirisi’s third floor apartment.”  Thus, also the book.   It paints a not very rosy picture of the state of modern society and of the Church… the liberal-run Church.  There’s this:

“But the Church has broken down here in Italy to the point where it can no longer perform these vital tasks. Old clergy still parrot the exhausted ideas of the sixties, speaking mainly to the elderly in fast-emptying pews. There are no vocations. The few committed Catholics here are isolated in the ghettos of their various ‘movements’ which help them find work and, sometimes, raise their children among like-minded people. But they have very little influence on the larger culture. If you are unlucky enough to be a pregnant young woman in a ‘normal’ Italian family, you will probably choose to abort. The evil is everywhere, Your Excellency.”

But with a title like The Devil Hates Latin you wouldn’t expect fluffy kittens and dancing smiley flowers.

Much like Malachi Martin does in Windswept House (US HERE – UK HERE) she creates not very subtly veiled characters, such as Alexander Card. Portland, described as “an intelligent bishop who actually believed” and “the real thing”. He is a composite.  There is an African Pope (a good guy).  The conclave dodged a German and “a Filipino with an infectious grin”.

And Latin, of course, figures in the book. She gets some Latin and Italian wrong, and in my Kindle version there were some typographical problems, but I give lots of points to those who try. You’ll find some not entirely convincing “action” moments.  But, there’s Latin for Masses and exorcism: what’s not to like? Happily, there are mentions of the traditional parish in Rome, Ss. Trinità dei Pelegrini and the traditional Mass.  And one line I agreed with entirely: “He thought reflexively for the thousandth time about how one of the benefits of being Roman Catholic was, no doubt, the food.”

A good thing in the book is the emphasis on how people get into serious spiritual trouble and what sort of disasters result from liberalism and indifferentism in the Church.

There is a very strong defense in the book of the unborn, while describing some sad circumstances.

Many of you will enjoy this quick read.


From a reader…

This is a Non Sequitur from the post, but I thought you may find it interesting.

My ten year old reported to me that when he was trying to pray the rosary one night, Our Lady kept interrupting him saying, “Say your prayers in Latin” or some thing to that effect. He knew the Hail Mary, but wanted to learn ALL of it in Latin.

He’s not a child given to making up stories….his little brother, if he’d have said it I would have just raised my eyebrows and kept going, he’s a little…..definitely our future lawyer!

But Paddy is a straight shooter.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I’ll always be grateful to the late Malachi Martin for arranging me to meet Pope St. John Paul II in the Vatican in June 1994, prior to His Holiness’ general audience. I still have the white rosary beads I was given.

    Malachi painted a bleak picture of the rot in the Church with “Windswept House;” however, he also made clear that “the Lord Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of his Immaculate Mother would prevail.”

    St. John Paul II, pray for us.

  2. Julia_Augusta says:

    The deterioration of Rome (and Italians) is shocking. I go to Rome every other year and it used to be one of my favourite cities. But last year when I went in July, I was appalled to see the complete breakdown of public order and personal decorum. The deterioration of Rome has been very swift indeed. Here is what I saw:
    – There is so much graffiti everywhere! On the walls of old palazzos, churches, apartment buildings and shops. Romans don’t bother to clean it up anymore.
    – The rubbish: it’s everywhere! Municipal rubbish collection is run by the Mafia, so you know already what that means. They collect the money from the state, but don’t collect the rubbish.
    – Bangladeshis run around the city illegally selling all kinds of stuff: selfie sticks, fake bags, etc. and whenever the Italian police show up in the vicinity, they pack up their bags quickly (same thing the African fake-bag sellers used to do). I suspect the police are getting some kind of bribe because they don’t seem to do anything about it;
    – Pick pockets and bag snatchers operate with impunity – the police know who they are but they don’t arrest them;
    – The Rome subway is so dirty and dilapidated that it looks like the entrance to Hades!
    – Roman men and women used to be elegantly dressed. On previous trips to Rome, I would marvel at how vain Italian men were, with their perfect hair, perfect shirts, matching trousers, shoes and sunglasses. Now, one sees a LOT of Italian men and women (including people in their 50s) sporting big tattoos all over their arms, legs, and neck, wearing sloppy ugly clothes. How did this tattoo trend blow over into Italy?
    – Empty Roman churches on Sunday: no one believes me when I tell them that I found Paris churches to be quite full in contrast to churches in Rome (or churches in Italy in general – and I’ve traveled all over – to Sicily, Puglia, Alto Adige, Piemonte, Campania). The exception would be Assisi which draws many pilgrims, who do attend church on Sunday (NOTE: Assisi is a touristic place of pilgrimage with law and order imposed by the beefy, bouncer-like Franciscan priests, so no selfie-stick vendors or pickpockets running wild).

    Father Z, when was the last time you visited Rome? What do you think? I’m sure when you lived there it was not as bad as it is today.

  3. hicks says:

    Alexander Cardinal Portland? Let me guess: Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland?

    [Can’t hide anything from you!   o{]:¬)   ]

  4. Mike says:

    There is a nonfiction book of the same title by a classicist whose name I can’t remember now. Very good. Analysis of Clint Eastwood films according to classical canons of narrative and form.

  5. KAS says:

    I just finished reading this over the weekend. I think that other than the author needs to work on her transitions it was good. I certainly enjoyed it.

  6. RichR says:

    The Kindle version is only $2.99 right now. Paperback is $9.99. If nothing else, I bought mine to show support.

  7. Absit invidia says:

    She practically named called him by name. Her description of him is right too.

    [Well… you have to read it to find out if it is clearly he or not.]

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Interesting book and update, thanks Fr. Z.

  9. Argument Clinician says:

    The parish priest at the parish where I assisted the Triduum had introduced the Lent Prose (“Attende Domine”) to the Sunday Masses during Lent. One of the parents reported just before Holy Week that their young daughter had been singing the hymn at home. The devil may hate Latin, but children seem to love it!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  10. aegsemje says:

    I read this book today. I agree with one of the above posters that some of the transitions could use some work, but I loved the book.

  11. dallenl says:

    N B: There is little quite so irritating as the celebrant trying to sing in English to music in chant. Gregorian Chant was instituted precisely because of simple form that pairs perfectly with Latin. Unfortunately they keep trying.

  12. mwa says:

    Mike on 4/28, I think you mean The Devil Knows Latin by E. Christian Kopff

  13. stuart reiss says:

    Agree with Father, Kas and aegsemje that the introduction of characters one by one by one by one well into 11 chapters was a bit like reportage and not story telling….this is no Dostoevsky, with subtle intricate introductions and sub plots….its a bit like a recipe….ingredients list..and then cook…but I love the catholicity…i also love a good beating of ‘old nick’…catholics should write more..other catholics should buy their books…even if they aren’t read

  14. wanda says:

    Got it, read it a day, couldn’t put it down.

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