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Speaking Latin one Roman obelisk at a time...

2014-07-06

There's a long list of 'must see' monuments in the Eternal City. This group is taking a different approach because here—it's all about reading and speaking in Latin. 

MSGR. DANIEL GALLAGHER 
Vatican's Office of Latin Letters
"So actually teaching Latin in Latin and experiencing Latin through monuments all throughout Rome.”


MALE STUDENT
"Yes, I speak Latin, I lived in a monastery for three months near Rome where we were only allowed to speak Latin.”

The course is offered by the Paideia Institute. It brings students from different parts of the globe. As part of the class, students visit obelisks with inscriptions in Latin to understand their history and relevance.  

MSGR. DANIEL GALLAGHER 
Vatican's Office of Latin Letters
"Every obelisk has its own story and simply by the words in the inscriptions which usually don’t total more than anywhere from five to 15, you have the entire story of where it came from, why it was brought to Rome, who brought it to Rome.”

The tour includes obelisks throughout the city, but without a doubt, the most popular one is this one: So while most people visit the square and take a picture with St. Peter's Basilica in the background, this group delves even further into the historic roots....

MALE STUDENT
 "So we read ancient texts that are about what we’re seeing and we even read the inscriptions on the obelisks and on the churches  and translate those.”

So what exactly do we know about the obelisk in St. Peter's Square? Well, It's more than 80 feet high. It was originally made in Egypt and unlike most obelisks, this one has never been broken down or re-constructed. But the big question is, what words are inscribed on it?

MSGR. DANIEL GALLAGHER 
Vatican's Office of Latin Letters
"So this was so to speak the inscription that said, by placing this obelisk here, dedicated to the holy cross, all the evil powers against the world will flee because it’s such a powerful sign.”

So while some may argue that Latin is a 'dead language' this group is proving otherwise. The Pope's twitter account already has over 250,000 followers in its Latin account and many of them are part of a younger generation.  

FEMALE STUDENT
 "I can see how it can appeal to people of all ages FLASH 00 28 ‘It’s so exciting to be in Rome with a bunch of like minded, passionate excited students studying stuff we all love.”

Now, the Vatican's official language is still being used as a tool to learn history, art and religion in very short, concise expressions in none other than the Eternal City.  


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