GREAT BOOK: With Latin in the Service of the Popes: The Memoirs of Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1885?1971)

I am reading a charming little book, which is also helpful for explaining the ongoing importance of Latin for the Church.

With Latin in the Service of the Popes: The Memoirs of Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1885-1971) translated by Anthony Lo Bello.


Card. Bacci was a great Latinist who worked for the Holy See, for four Popes, for several decades. His mark is all over Vatican City in the form of inscriptions, including for an elevator in the Apostolic Palace.

I used some of Card. Bacci’s splendid reflections in my last series of LENTCAzTs.  He is terrific. Meditations For Each Day.  US HERE – UK HERE

I will assume permission to read you a small section, so you can have a taste.   I will not read all Latin inscriptions, which I find terribly interesting but which are not perhaps best for this tidbit (they are translated in the book).  Also, note that, at the end, the Second Vatican Council was underway as he was writing.   Bacci and Ottaviani would join forces to fight the worst of outcomes of the Council.

This little volume is only about 115 pages long, including its index.  Each section has some of the Latin that Bacci wrote, including the Latin oration given by Pius XII at his coronation, which Morton Henry Robinson quoted in his novel The Cardinal (US HERE – UK HERE).

The Cardinal was made into a movie directed by Otto Preminger.  It is rumored that young Joseph Ratzinger was a consultant for the movie.  And the liturgical scenes in it, including an ordination to the priest and an episcopal consecration in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, are spectacular.  US HERE – UK HERE    Too bad the movies doesn’t include the game played with Merry del Val, quoting Horace and tossing oranges.   It does, however, have the Card. Initzer strudel crack.

I think you will enjoy the Bacci memoir, even if you don’t know much Latin.  It is also a good press to support, Arouca Press.  They are doing good work.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I took a look at the Meditations book and was disappointed to find there were no “Look Inside this Book” sample pages available. Any chance a single meditation could be posted here?

  2. Mariana2 says:

    Why were oranges tossed?

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