28 July 2017 » Home > Latin Inscriptions
/\Latin Inscriptions

LATIN INSCRIPTION

INSIDE THE CHURCH OF ST THERESE

CHRISTI CARO SANGUIS FONSQUE VITAE PIGNUS

 

This inscription in the transept of the church means Christ’s Body and Blood and the baptismal font, the assurance of life.

It is significant that the very first word should be a reaffirmation of the reason for our attendance at church. Christi means of Christ, belonging to Christ, and that is surely what we are, namely Christ’s followers, Christians.

Caro means flesh, the human body. Through the incarnation, Christ took a human body. He became truly human. The stained glass window in the porch portrays the adoration of the incarnate God by the Gentiels, the Three Wise Men.

Sanguis means blood, the life of the body. Immediately we respond to the bloody death of Christ on the cross, the epitome of sadistic torture perpetrated by the Romans on those whom they judged criminals. It is pertinent that directly beneath these three words, Christi Caro Sanguis, there should be a crucifix which represents where Christ’s Body and Blood were separated. Christ shed all His blood and indeed even the final drops of water, as Mozart reminds us in his immortal motet, Ave Verum Corpus. Symbolically too, during the Mass, the celebrant mixes wine with a drop of water. The mere water is the congregation completely absorbed in the wine, the blood of Christ.

The stained glass windows remind us of the Consecration, the fruits of the earth, the bread and the grapes, which become the Body and Blood of Christ through the miracle of Transubstantiation. After all the words Hic est enim Corpus Meum mean For this My Body and not the timid This represents My Body.

Christ was slaughtered on Calvary, yet above Christ’s alter is Christ triumphant, risen from the dead, triumphant over death. Resurrexit sicut dixit. He is risen as He said He would; he is risen as it was predicted He would. The tabernacle too is not placed by accident where it is. It represents the sealed home for Christ’s Body. It represents the tomb from which he rose on Easter Sunday.

The baptismal font is the entrance ticket of humanity into the body corporate of the church, the mystical body of the Church militant. Without it, aspirant Christians must rely on Baptism of Fire, or Baptism of desire. The font is deeply symbolic as a cleanser, a freeing up of the soul to be fit to follow Christ. It recalls also the basic manners of etiquette and hygiene to wash before something important. It reminds us also of the Baptism of Christ, a perfect and sinless man who nevertheless accepted baptism from his cousin. At the moment of His Baptism the heavens opened and the Paraclete was heard to say This is My beloved Son. Consequently just above the font the stained glass window illustrates this scriptural reference.

Vitae Pignus means the assurance and pledge of life, of everlasting life, the life of a Christian, eternal life. That is the pledge of Christ; that is the advantage of the font; that is the indispensable necessity of the font. It is vital, a necessity for the vitality of a Christian. Consequently, the stained glass windows and the inscriptions along the transept of the church form an enlightening visual and  permanent guide for the parishioners. It is a permanent reaffirmation of our Catholic beliefs, and a permanent sermon, ever enriching, appealing to our heart and brain, our emotions and our reasoning.

 

MANE ASTABO ET VIDEBO QUONIAM AD TE ORABO DOMINE

 

These two quotations, taken from the fifth psalm, are engraved on either side of the nave. Their meaning is: In the morning I shall stand near you, and I shall see you because I shall pray to you, Lord.

The very first word reminds the congregation of when it gathers at church. The first hour of the first day in the week is particularly dedicated to God. His worship takes priority over other obligations. It is God’s hour, a time we manifest our corporate belief in God and publicly reaffirm it. Not all parishioners are able to attend dawn Mass and so other times are offered in the firm belief that Mass should be available for all and in all circumstances. Our personal private prayers at home are reinforced, and our batteries are recharged by our collective communal prayers in the house of God. It is therefore a linking of the two houses, ours and His. After all Domus mea domus orationis est = My house is the house of prayer. There shall be no manana, no procrastination. It is now, this morning : Mane.

The three verbs : astabo, videbo and orabo = I shall stand near you, I shall see you and I shall pray to you, are all in the future tense and point forward to something. However, note the order! The effort must be to stand by Christ, to be a Christian, to be a witness to His message. Make a stand! The very word astabo pivots on the stem sta. Even those incidents on the Way of the Cross which stand out are called stations, places we stop and stand to recollect details of Christ’s final journey to Calvary.

When we make the effort of standing near Christ and for Christ, we are promised we shall see him. This calls for concentration. We can all plead guilty of hearing people but not listening to them. Sometimes their words do not even penetrate our minds. We shall be in His presence and we shall see Him. This appears a little self evident but think of the opposite! We shall not see if we do not approach God meaningfully. The godless are abandoned, alone, out of sight. Their eyes do not see.

But what other assurance is there that we shall see God? The answer is given forthwith. It is boldly inscribed in the words : quoniam orabo tibi, Domine = Because I shall pray to you, Lord. Some of us recall the constant exhortation of the celebrant in the Latin Mass Orate, fratres = Pray, brethren but now replaced by the inclusive Let us pray!

The last word of the inscription is Domine which means Lord, the dominant master of a household, a master of slaves, one so superior as to dominate others. Hence the one who dominates and masters the life and soul of a Christian is Christ. My Lord and my God was the moving declaration of St. Thomas. The first word of the inscriptions is Christi = of Christ and the last is Domine = Lord. This again is symbolic of God. I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the start and the finish. I embrace all. I am everything; there is nothing else that is necessary, nothing else that is needed.

The First Testament and the New are therefore graphically united in this visually didactic illustration of our beliefs and a poignant reminder of what our Christian purpose and needs are. The message of the inscriptions and the illustrative representations of the stained glass windows are there to instruct and to remind us of our Christian faith.

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                             Peter McConnell (2/12/1984)

 
/\