List of Latin phrases in A Canticle for Leibowitz

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Walter M. Miller, Jr. was a Roman Catholic, and Catholicism — especially pre-Vatican II Catholicism — infuses A Canticle for Leibowitz.

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Fiat Homo

Fiat homo means "Let there be man" or "Let him become man." This phrase is an allusion to the Nicene creed, Homo factus est, "He became man," or to Genesis, Fiat lux, "Let there be light."[no citations needed here]

Chapter Latin English
1 Apage Satanas! Away, Satan!
1 ex opere operato from the work having been worked
i.e. from Brother Francis' point of view, it seemed to work.[no citations needed here] This phrase indicates the Roman Catholic view that grace is imparted by the nature of the deed, rather than the doer of the deed. The contrary view, ex opus operante, is ascribed to Donatists.
1 Et ne nos inducas in... And lead us not into...
From the Lord's Prayer (pater noster)
1 Libellus Leibowitz The Little Book of Leibowitz
1 Repugnans tibi, ausus sum quaerere quidquid doctius mihi fide, certius spe, aut dulcius caritate visum esset. Quis itaque stultior me... Turning from you, I dared to seek something that seemed to me to be more intellectual than faith, more certain than hope, and sweeter than love. Who is more foolish than me...[?]
Attributed to St. Augustine
1 O inscrutabilis Scrutator animarum, cui patet omne cor, si me vocaveras, olim a te fugeram. Si autem nunc velis vocare me indignum... You inscrutable Examiner of souls, to whom every heart is open: once, if you had called me, I would have fled. But if you wish to call me again, even though I am unworthy...
Continuation of the above Augustinian prayer
2 A spiritu fornicationis, Domine, libera nos. From the spirit of fornication, O Lord, deliver us.
Fornication is often used a symbol for idolatry[no citations needed here]
2 A morte perpetua, Domine, libera nos. From perpetual death, O Lord, deliver us.
from the Litany of the Saints.
2 Peccatores, te rogamus, audi nos. We sinners beseech thee, hear us
2 Te rogamus, audi nos. We beseech thee, hear us
2 ipso facto by that very fact
2 mihi amicus a friend to me
2 machina analytica analytical machine
i.e. a computer (the "charms" are resistors)
2 Beate Leibowitz, ora pro me! Blessed Leibowitz, pray for me!
2 Sancte Leibowitz, ora pro me! Saint Leibowitz, pray for me!
2 Ut solius tuae voluntatis mihi cupidus sim, et vocationis tuae conscius, si digneris me vocare ... Would that I desire only thy will for me, and know thy call, if thou shouldst deign to call me
2 Promotor Fidei Promoter of the Faith
Synonymous with "Devil's Advocate" (see below, Ch. 7), this lawyer had the responsibility of arguing against the sainthood of a given candidate for canonization.
2 Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
The opening line of the Angelus prayer.
4 Benedicamus Domino Let us bless the Lord
4 Deo? gratias? Thanks? be to God?
4 Magister meus my teacher
4 Deo gratias! Thanks be to God!
5 Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem... I give you a new command: that you love one another
from John 13:34 in the Vulgate
7 Ecce Inquisitor Curiae. Ausculta et obsequere. Arkos, AOL, Abbas. Behold the Inquisitor of the Curia. Hear him and obey him. Arkos, Abbot of the [Albertian Order of Leibowitz].
As Francis notes a few lines later, Arkos probably meant "Investigator," not "Inquisitor."
7 advocatus diaboli Devil's Advocate
The Church's canonization process involves a Devil's Advocate (formally called the Promoter of the Faith) and a Postulator of the Cause. The latter argues for the candidate's canonization, while the former argues against it, apparently much as a prosecutor and defense attorney do today.[no citations needed here]
7 Ecce quam bonum, et quam jucundum... Behold how good, and how pleasant...
from Psalm 132(133). The psalm continues, "... for brothers to live in unity."
7 Glorificemus Let us glorify [God]
7 Miserere mei, Deus Have mercy on me, God
10 Sacerdos magnus Chief priest
A poetic title for a bishop. The hymn Ecce sacerdos magnus is chanted during the ordination of a Bishop.
10 Dei imago image of God
i.e. a soul
11 sampetrius
Evidently a post-Deluge Church office (from context, they seem to be servants of the Pope) whose name is derived from Saint Peter. The (plausible) Latinate plural given in the text is sampetrii. It is a Latinization of the Italian "sampietrino," the term for the laborers who are, in the contemporary Church, responsible for the maintenance of St. Peter's Basilica.[no citations needed here]
11 Terribilis est locus iste, hic domus Dei est, et porta caeli; This place is terrifying, the house of God is here, and the gate of heaven;
from Gen 28:17.
11 Appropinquat agnis pastor et ovibus pascendis The shepherd approaches to feed the sheep and lambs
11 Genua nunc flectantur omnia Let every knee be bent now
11 Jussit olim Jesus Petrum pascere gregem Domini Jesus once bid Peter to feed the Lord's flock
11 Ecce Petrus Pontifex Maximus Behold Peter, the Pontifex maximus
Saint Peter was the first Pope; Popes are often identified with him.
11 Gaudeat igitur populus Christi, et gratias agat Domino Let Christ's people rejoice, and give thanks to God
11 Nam docebimur a Spiritu sancto For we will be taught by the Holy Spirit
11 Sancte pater, ab Sapentia summa petimus ut ille Beatus Leibowitz cujus miracula mirati sunt multi... Holy father, we ask from highest Wisdom that Blessed Leibowitz at whose miracles many have wondered...
Part of the requirements for canonization include a minimum number of witnessed, verified miracles.
11 Gratissima Nobis causa, fili The cause is most pleasing to us, son
11 sub ducatu sancti Spiritus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit
11 miserere nobis have mercy on us
11 Sancta Dei Genetrix, ora pro nobis Holy Mother of God, pray for us
11 Sancta Virgo virginum, ora pro nobis Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us
11 Omnes sancti Martyres, ora pro nobis All you holy Martyrs, pray for us
11 Veni Creator Spiritus Come, Creator Spirit
11 Surgat ergo Petrus ipse Let Peter himself arise
11 licet adire let him approach
11 scala caelestis heavenly stair
11 Te Deum You God, [we praise]
A set part of the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours. The Te Deum is a hymn of praise.
11 Noli molestare let no one bother him
A letter of safe passage

Fiat Lux

Fiat lux means "Let there be light." It is a quote from Genesis chapter 1.

Chapter Latin English
13 Domne Lord
A contraction of Domine. The contraction is used when addressing human lords, as opposed to the Lord God. In the book the term is used to address the abbot.
13 Sub immunitate apostolica hoc suppositum est. Quisquis nuntium molestare audeat, ipso facto excommunicetur. This has been placed under apostolic immunity. Let anyone who may dare to bother the nuncio be automatically excommunicated.
13 Accedite ad eum Come ye to him [... and be enlightened]
From Psalm 33(34):6
13 Quidam mihi calix nuper expletur, Paule. Precamini ergo Deum facere me fortiorem. Metuo ut hic pereat. Spero te et fratres saepius oraturos esse pro tremescente Marco Apolline. Valete in Christo, amici. Certain cup has recently been filled up for me, Paul. May you all therefore pray that God make me stronger. I fear it may not go away. I hope that thou and the brothers would often pray for the growing fear of Marcus Apollo. Farewell in Christ, my friends.
The cup he mentions is an allusion to the cup mentioned by Christ in the garden of Gethsemane
13 Texarkanae datum est Octava Ss Petri et Pauli, Anno Domini termillesimo... Given in Texarkana on the Octave of Saints Peter and Paul, in the year of the Lord three thousand ...
The Octave of Saints Peter and Paul is the 6th of July, eight days following the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29.
13 vespero mundi expectando the evening of the world is to be expected
14 De Vestigiis Antecessarum Civitatum Concerning the Footprints of Earlier Cities
14 Cave canem Beware of the dog
14 Vexilla regis Banners of the King
First line from a hymn
14 Sancta Maisie, interride pro me Saint Maisie, inter-laugh for me
Interride is a pun on "intercede"
14 Ergo sum Therefore I am
From Descartes, Cogito ergo sum, "I think therefore I am."
14 Stultus Maximus the Greatest Fool
14 Haec commixtio ... This intermixing ...
Beginning of prayer used at Mass, "May this mixture and consecration of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ be made into eternal life for those of us who receive it."
16 Memento, Domine, omnium famulorum tuorum Remember, Lord, all thy servants
A prayer from the Roman Canon of the mass
17 Tibi adsum I am here for you
18 In principio Deus In the beginning God ...
Genesis 1:1
18 Caelum et terram creavit Created heaven and earth
Genesis 1
18 Vacuus erat autem mundus But the world was empty
18 Cum tenebris in superficie profundorum with darkness on the face of the deep
18 Ortus est Dei Spiritus super aquas The Spirit of God rose above the waters
18 Gratias Creatori Spiritui Thanks to the Creator Spirit
18 Dixitque Deus: FIAT LUX And God said: LET THERE BE LIGHT
18 Et lux ergo facta est And therefore there was light
18 Lucem esse bonam Deus vidit God saw the light was good
18 Et secrevit lucem a tenebris And he separated the light from the darkness
18 Lucem appelavit 'diem' et tenebras 'noctes' The light he called 'the day' and the darkness 'nights'
18 Vespere occaso When evening had fallen
18 Lucifer! Ortus est et primo die The Bearer of Light! He rose so on the first day
20 Flectamus genua Let us bend our knees
20 Levate Rise
plural imperative
20 Oremus Let us pray
usually said as an introduction to a public prayer
20 .. et Spiritus Sancti ... and of the Holy Spirit
From the sign of the cross, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Commonly said at the conclusion of a prayer.
20 Sedete Sit
plural imperative
20 Et tu, Brute? And thou, Brutus?
Reputed to be the last words of Julius Caesar to his friend and assassin, Brutus.
21 Regnans in Excelsis Reigning on High
A reference to God, who reigns from Heaven. Also the name of a papal bull issued in 1570 by Pope Pius V declaring Queen Elizabeth I of England to be a heretic for reasserting the Church of England's independence from Rome.
21 Hic est enim calix Sanguinis Mei For this is the cup of my Blood
22 Lege Read
singular imperative. The abbot uses this term to implore the thon to read further.
22 De Inanibus Concerning the Inane
22 Ad lumina Christi' For the light of Christ
22 Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine ... Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare Dismiss now thy servant, Lord ... For mine eyes have seen the salvation
from Luke 2:29–32. A canticle chanted at Compline
23 Ego te absolvo I absolve thee
from the rite of confession; the priest absolves the penitent of his sins
23 Cathartes aura regnans the reigning Cathartes aura
The Cathartes aura is the taxonomic name of the turkey vulture. In Latin, the name means "purifying air." The vulture is used by the author as a poetic device as each section of the book closes. This particular usage has both literal and allegorical meaning.

Fiat Voluntas Tua

Fiat voluntas tua means "Thy will be done." It is a quote from the Lord's prayer.

Chapter Latin English
24 Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison imas. Latinized ecclesiastical Greek for "Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy on us."
From the Good Friday liturgy.
24 SUPREME SECRETISSIMO. Supremely secret
24 Hinc igitur effuge. Therefore, flee from here
24 Ab hac planeta nativitatis aliquos filios Ecclesiae usque ad planetas solium alienorum iam abisse et numquam reddituros esse intellegimus. We understand that some sons of the Church have already left this planet of their birth for the planets of alien suns and will never return.
24 Quo peregrinatur grex, pastor secum Whither the flock may wander, let the pastor [wander] with them.
24 Luciferum ruisse mihi dicis? Are you telling me that Lucifer has fallen?
24 Chris'tecum. Cum spiri'tuo. An abbreviation meaning "Christ be with thee. And with thy spirit."
The unabbreviated Latin phrase would be Christus tecum. Et cum spiritu tuo.
24 Diluvium ignis Flame deluge
24 et tu, Luna, recedite in orbitas reversas and you, O Moon, recede into backwards orbits
An allusion to Joshua 10:12.
25 Accedite ad eum Come ye to him
a quote from the Vulgate, Psalm 33:6 (34:5)
26 Non habemus regem nisi caesarem We have no king but Caesar
a quote from John 19:15
26 Grex peregrinus erit. Quam primum est factum suscipiendum vobis, iussu Sanctae Sedis. Suscipite ergo operis partem ordini vestro propriam... There shall be a pilgrim flock. As soon as possible you are to take up the task, by command of the Holy See. Therefore take up that part of the work that is appropriate to your order...
26 Eminentissimo Domino Eric Cardinali Hoffstraff obsequitur Jethra Zerchius, A. O. L. Abbas. Ad has res disputandas iam coegi discessuros fratres ut hodie parati dimitti Romam prima aerisnavi possint. Jethra Zerchius, Abbot of the Albertian Order of Liebowitz, concerning the clarification of these matters, complies with his Eminence Lord Eric Cardinal Hoffstraff. I have already compelled brothers to withdraw so that today, after they have prepared, they can be sent to Rome on the first aircraft.
26 Retrahe me, Satanas, et discede. Withdraw from me, thou Satan, and depart.
26 Homo loquax nonnumquam sapiens a chattering man, sometimes wise
a play on the meaning of Homo sapiens, which is "man the wise"
26 Discede, Seductor informis Depart, O hideous seducer
26 Egrediamur tellure Let us depart from the earth
26 abbas abbot
26 Audi me, Domine Hear me, O Lord
26 negotium perambulans in tenebris the business that walketh in darkness
a reference to the Vulgate Psalm 90:5 (91:6)
26 Reminiscentur et convertentur ad Dominum universi fines terrae. Et adorabunt in conspectu universae familiae gentium. Quoniam Domini est regnum; et ipse dominabitur... All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord: And all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in his sight. For the kingdom is the Lord's; and he shall have dominion
a quote from the Vulgate Psalm 21:28–29 (22:27–28)
26 de essentia hominum concerning the essence of men
26 Hoc officium, fili — tibine imponemus oneri? This task, son, shall we impose on thee this burden?
26 honorem accipiam I shall accept the honor
26 Crucis autem onus si audisti ut honorem, nihilo errasti auribus If thou heardst, however, the burden of the cross as an honor, thou hast not erred in thine ears
26 Epikeia An exception
An indulgent and benign interpretation of law, which regards a law as not applying in a particular case because of circumstances unforeseen by the lawmaker. Ecclesiastical Latin, from the Greek επιεικεια (epieikeia), meaning reasonableness, fairness, or clemency.
27 Mori Vult He [or she] wants to die
27 Orbis Judicans conscientiae The Judging Orb of conscience
27 Oculus Poetae Judicis The Eye of the Poet Judge
27 Non cogitamus, ergo nihil sumus We do not think, therefore we are nothing.
a play on the phrase Cogito ergo sum
27 Evenit diabolus The devil has come out
28 Domine, mundorum omnium Factor, parsurus esto imprimis eis filiis aviantibus ad sidera caeli quorum victus dificilior... O Lord, Maker of all worlds, spare the sons who are the first to fly to the stars of heaven whose more difficult way of life...
28 Exsurge quare obdormis Arise, why sleepest thou
a quote from the Vulgate Psalm 43:23
28 Reminiscere Call to mind
28 dealba me Purify me
28 christus a christ
29 Te absolvat Dominus Jesus Christus; ego enim eius auctoritate te absolvo ab omni vinculo. ... Denique, si absolvi potes, ex peccatis tuis ego te absolvo in Nomine Patris... May the Lord Jesus Christ absolve thee; for I absolve thee by his authority from every bond.... Finally, if thou canst be absolved, I absolve thee from thy sins in the Name of the Father...
29 Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix justus sit securus?
What am I, miserable, then to say?
Which patron to ask,
when [even] the just may [only] hardly be sure?
From the Dies Irae
29 Vix securus Hardly secure
29 Metus doloris Fear of pain
29 Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo, quia respexit humilitatem... My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate...
From the Magnificat
29 Fas est. It is right
29 Homo inspiratus Man the inspired
a play on Homo sapiens, "Man the wise"
29 Nisi baptizata es et nisi baptizari nonquis, te baptizo... Unless thou hast been baptized and unless thou canst not be baptized, I baptize thee...
a formula for a conditional baptism
29 Domine, non sum dignus... sed tantum dic verbo... Lord, I am not worthy... but only say the word
From the prayer at Mass, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed," which is an allusion to Matthew 8:8.
30 Sic transit mundus Thus passes the world
a play on the phrase Sic transit gloria mundi which refers to Imitation of Christ book I, chapter 3, verse 6.

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