Antonio Bacci was rector of the archdiocesan seminary of Florence when his exceptional knowledge of Latin caused him to be summoned to Rome in 1922 to join the office of the Secretary of State as an assistant, first to Aurelio Galli and then to Nicola Sebastiani, the chief Latinists of the Holy See. Bacci succeeded Sebastiani as Secretary of Briefs to Princes upon the latter’s death in 1931. In the first half of the memoirs here translated, Bacci discusses his relationship with Popes Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, and Paul VI during the period 1931‒1964. After these reminiscences, the Cardinal explains, in the second half of the book, the reasons why the Catholic Church must maintain the Latin language as its official language, addressing all the while the objections that were being raised at that time, when the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council was in full swing. He poses and answers the question whether it is at all possible that even the Church should now repudiate or abandon Latin, which, together with Greek, is the natural womb of our civilization and of our literatures and is still the sole linguistic bond among cultured people amidst such a variety of tongues.
It pleases me greatly that America has not forgotten and does not want to forget him who enriched the Catholic Church with a Latin patrimony that cannot be renounced! … and I was astonished when I read through the first installment of your English translation of my uncle’s book. For your style is so easy to read, natural and ﬂuid that one would think that one was reading the original work and not merely a translation. – Letter from Marsilio Bacci to Dr. Anthony LoBello
In his Memoirs Cardinal Antonio Bacci, one of the greatest Latinists of the recent past, outlines convincingly the importance of the use of the Latin language for the maintenance and the flourishing of a true culture in a time when humanity is sinking into the chaos of arbitrary subjectivism and inhuman technocracy. Cardinal Bacci warned clear-sightedly especially against the dangers of the loss of the use of Latin in the sacred Liturgy and in sacred doctrine, as then the Catholic faithful and clergy and the theologians from all nations of the world will be deprived of a sure and proven instrument and expression of Catholic unity in prayer and in faith. May the witness of his life and work bear fruits for the true renewal of the Church. - ✠ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
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About the Translator
Anthony Lo Bello is Professor of Mathematics at Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania. He received his A. B. degree from Kenyon College in 1969 and his Ph. D. degree from Yale University in 1975. He is the author of several books, among which are The Commentary of Albertus Magnus on Book I of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry (Brill Academic Publishers, Inc., 2003), Origins of Mathematical Words: A Comprehensive Dictionary of Latin, Greek, and Arabic Roots (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), and Origins of Catholic Words: A Discursive Dictionary (Catholic University of America Press, 2020).
With Latin in the Service of the Popes: The Memoirs of Antonio Cardinal Bacci
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