Pope Benedict XVI has sent his first tweet in Latin as part of his bid to revive use of the language.
Once widespread, Latin is fading from use in the Catholic Church, and Benedict’s attempt to breath new life into the language has been backed by Vatican officials, who say it is an ideal language for the website where messages must be no more than 140 characters in length.
According to the Pope’s welcome message on his Latin Twitter account @Pontifex_ln, “Twitter” translates as “Pagina publica breviloquentis”, or “Concise public page”.
In his first tweet yesterday, the pontiff said God asked believers to “Orare semper, iustitiam factitare, amare probitatem, humiles Secum ambulare,” which translates as “pray constantly, do justice, love goodness and walk humbly with Him.”
The twitter account had notched more than 5,000 followers by yesterday afternoon, in addition to the 2.5 million followers of the Twitter accounts Benedict launched in December in eight languages including English, Spanish and French.
The new account will feature the same messages being sent in the other languages translated into Latin.
Vatican daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano threw its weight behind the initiative, with Manlio Simonetti, a professor of Christian history, saying Latin was well-suited to Twitter.
“Latin adapts very well to the brevity demanded by new social networks, even better than English,” he said.
“If I say in English ‘the corruption of the best ones is horrible’, in Latin just three words are sufficient: ‘corruptio optimi pessima’,” said Father Roberto Spataro, the secretary of the Pontifical Academy for Latin Studies.
“It is a language that helps you think with precision and sobriety,” he added.
Latin scholars have invented phrases like “inscriptio cursus electronici” for e-mail to keep Latin up to date.
Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said that the Latin translation for Twitter had been dreamed up by Latin scholars at the Vatican’s secretariat of state, its diplomatic body.