How Latin and Twitter helped a Journalist
They are calling it “the tweet heard around the world”, a less than 140-character message by ANSA journalist Giovanna Chirri that announced to resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. “B16 si ‘e dimesso. Lascia pontificato dal 28 febbraio” [B16 is stepping down. Leaving on February 28.] The news itself is beyond spectacular. As Papal history fans will note, Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pontiff to voluntarily resign since Gregory XII in 1415. Yes, nearly 600 year ago. And how this news was not just conveyed [Chirri's social media short-hand] but understood is just as spectacular. Chirri, part of a papal audience on Monday, February 11, listened to the Pope’s Latin declaration,
“Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commissum renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 29, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.” [For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.]
She confirmed with ANSA what she had heard, posted her tweet, and from there, the deluge. Journalists quickly caught on, and began spreading the news, along with speculation as to why. Chirri has quickly become a superstar both journalistically and linguistically. Not only was she the very first to get the scoop on history-making news, she quickly followed up her tweet with another stating “the Pope’s Latin is very easy to understand”, an inadvertent shout-out to supporters of Latin language and its studies in academic institutions across the globe. Optime, Iohanna!
Thanks to Chirri’s great use of Latin, a once “useless” language proves ever relevant in the real world and Latin’s lasting legacy continues to shine bright and clear. It is opportune to note that there are many opportunities to study Latin around the world but very few to speak it and we are proud to support Latin and its uses in daily life and contemporary media by studying Latin in a contemporary and living environment. Rome is the ideal city- as the city is literally covered in Latin inscriptions– and now with the world scrutinizing Vatican Ctiy for the coming months, it is a great opportunity to re-examine Latin’s role in contemporary society.
Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation [VIDEO and below photo, The Guardian, February 11, 2012]