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Why Latin?

Catholics in the pews may wonder why Latin is used in parts of the Mass.

Rather than an archaic language unnecessary in the modern world, Latin serves as the official language of the Church. Popes taught Latin is a symbol of the Church’s universality and helps to preserve its teachings.

“The use of the Latin language affords at once an imposing sign of unity and an effective safeguard against the corruption of true doctrine,” Pope Pius XII wrote.

In another encyclical, Pope Pius XI said because the Church embraces all nations and is destined to “endure until the end of time … (she) requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular.”

As vernacular languages continue to evolve and develop, Latin is unchanging and preserves the meaning of the Mass. Whether walking into Mass in their hometown or a foreign country, faithful can use these traditional Latin phrases.


Top 8 Latin responses and phrases every Catholic should know

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Catholic priest on altar praying during mass

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Santi.
Translation: In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Dominus vobiscum. Translation: The Lord be with you.
Et cum spiritu tuo. Translation: And with your spirit.

Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro. Translation: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Dignum et justum est. Translation: It is right and just.

Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. Translation: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Qui fecit coelum et terram. Translation: Who made heaven and earth.

Ite missa est. Translation: The Mass has ended.
Deo gratias. Translation: Thanks be to God.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Translation: My fault, my fault, my most grievous fault.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Translation: Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus.
Translation: Holy, holy, holy.



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