Pope Francis a Latin Lover Too?

Tip o’ the pileus to Adrian Murdoch for pointing us to this item by Harry Mount in the Telegraph:

The Pope’s Inaugural Mass at St Peter’s this morning is a joy for Latin fans. Like his predecessor, he sounds pretty handy at the language, speaking the ancient words fluently and naturally.

Even better, for us Latin obsessives, he’s chosen a motto for his coat of arms with not just one, but two, gerunds – the bane of the Latin-learning schoolboy’s lessons. Gerunds, you’ll remember, are verbal nouns – like “doing”, “laughing”, “singing”. The even trickier gerundive is a verbal adjective, meaning something like “needing to be done” – there is no real English equivalent, although the English words, Amanda and agenda, are both gerundives.

His new motto, “Miserando atque eligendo”, means “By having mercy and by choosing”. It derives from the Venerable Bede’s homily on St Matthew’s Gospel: “Jesus saw the tax collector and, by having mercy, chose him as an Apostle, saying to him, ‘Follow me.'”

Both miserando and eligendo are gerunds; even better, miserando is the gerund of a deponent verb, miseror, “to have mercy on”. So Pope Francis has incorporated a real brain-mangler – the ablative of the gerund of a deponent verb – in his motto. Good for Pope Francis – I look forward to many more years of delightfully complex Latin from him.

… which is interesting, because just yesterday I was trying to wrap my head around one of the first tweets from the new pontiff:

… which is, apparently, the same sentiment as this:

Here’s a brief video on the coat of arms, which curiously doesn’t mention the motto:

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