CH527 Ecclesiastical Latin I

—Academic Goals:

  • By the end of the semester the student shall be able read Latin at an introductory level, i.e., shall recognize and analyze elementary vocabulary and forms and shall be able to recognize, analyze, and translate elementary Latin sentences.

—Pastoral Goals:

  • The student “exhibits growing integrity, teachability/humility, perseverance, self-discipline” (Source: WSC Student Learning Outcomes). Progress will be measured by weekly quizzes, a mid-term, and a final exam, as well as weekly reviews.
  • Students shall be prepared to translate, in class, sentences from the weekly assignment. Attendance to class is essential.

Latin I covers the first 14 chapters of the text.

Required Reading/Texts


  • John C. Collins, A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press, 1985).
  • Dorothy Sayers, “The Greatest Single Defect of My Own Latin Education, pt 1”; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5
  • Course StructureEach week we will review the sentences from the previous week, preview the material to be learned in the upcoming week and take a quiz over this week’s material.Please come prepared on the first day of class to take an exam over the first two chapters of the Collins text. On week 2 we will review the Latin to English material from cha pters 1 and 2, preview ch. 4, and take a quiz over chapter 3.Before you can read Latin you must first memorize the vocabulary and forms. Then you must come to understand how those forms relate to each other in sentence form (grammar).

    Thus, in order to learn Latin you must first memorize. You cannot learn the relations of words and forms if they are unfamiliar. To memorize you need a large set of flash cards (or the Mac Genius program). You must write out the vocabulary and forms and quiz yourself repeatedly until you have mastered the assigned vocabulary and forms. Quiz yourself over the vocabulary until you can work through the assignment without error. Leave it and come back to it later. Isolate the vocabulary you’ve not yet memorized and focus on it. When you’ve mastered these words, go back and review all the vocabulary together. Leave it and come back to it tomorrow. When you pass the flash card quiz repeatedly without error you are ready for the vocabulary portion of the quiz.

    It will be helpful to write out the forms repeatedly on a black/white board (or on paper) until you can reproduce the forms without error and without consulting any helps. Leave it and come back later or even the next day and try to reproduce the forms. When you can reproduce the entire form the next day without error you are ready for that portion of the quiz.

    When translation sentences are assigned you must work on 5-6 sentences daily in order to complete the assignment successfully before the quiz. As a rule, if your translation makes no sense then you have most probably made a mistake. Do not assume that the text has erred. It hasn’t. When you can sight read all the assigned Latin to English sentences you are ready for the weekly quiz.

    Here’s the method for translation: Find the verb (translate it), find the subject of the verb (translate it), then find the qualifiers and translate them.

    If you follow this procedure each week, you should have learned the material well enough, with a little review, to perform well on the mid-term and final.

    Keep up. We move on each week and each chapter builds on the next and assumes that you have mastered the material from the previous chapter.


    The mid-term and final will be scheduled by the registrar. The weekly quizzes are given during the second hour of each class session.

    Recommended Texts

  • Biblia Sacra Vulgata
  • Leo F. Stelten, A Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin (Peabody, MA: Hendricksen, 1995).
  • Richard A. Muller, A Dictionary of Theological Latin and Greek (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996)

Additional Bibliography

  • Dorothy Sayers, Lost Tools of Learning.
  • Brittain, F. Latin in Church. Cambrige: Cambridge University Press, 1934.
  • Harrington, K. P. Mediaeval Latin. Second Edition. ed. Joseph Pucci. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
  • Mantello, F. A. C. and A. G. Rigg, eds. Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographic Guide. Washington, DC: Catholic University Press, 1996.
  • Leal, Ioanes, ed. Novum Testamentum Domini Nostri Ieus Christi, Iuxta editionem Sixto-Clementinam anni 1592. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1960.
  • Weber, Robert. ed. Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1969.


  • Stelten, Leo F. Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin
  • Muller, Richard. F., A Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms
  • Harden, J. M., A Dictionary of the Vulgate New Testament
  • Bretzke, James T. Consecrated Phrases: A Latin Theological Dictionary
  • Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictonary
  • Smalley, Beryl, The Study of The Bible in the Middle Ages

Assertion of Intellectual Property Rights

The instructor holds the copyright to all course lectures and original course materials. This copyright extends to student notes and summaries that substantially reflect the lectures or original course materials. Course lectures and materials are made available for the personal use of students only and may not be recorded or otherwise distributed (including the publication of student notes or summaries on social media) in any way for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the express written permission of the instructor.