By Devin Watkins
As befits the memory of a master of the official language of the Church, Pope Francis’ condolences for the passing of Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD, came in Latin.
The late Carmelite friar—beloved of Vatican Radio listeners as “The Latin-lover”—served as one of the Vatican’s foremost experts in the Latin language for nearly 40 years.
He died in his hometown of Milwaukee, in the US state of Wisconsin, on Christmas Day, at the age of 81.
Decades of service
Pope Francis sent a telegram on Monday to Fr. Saverio Cannistrà, the Father General of the Order of Discalced Carmelite Friars, to express his condolences. The note was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
The Pope expressed his appreciation for Fr. Reginald’s many years of service to the Holy See.
He worked from 1970 until 2009 in the Latin Letters section of the Secretariat of State, translating innumerable papal and Vatican documents into Latin.
Acknowledging his years of service, Pope Francis said Fr. Reginald “demonstrated the brilliance of Latin to copious numbers of students.”
And the Holy Father prayed that the Latinist of the Popes might receive from God “recompense in full measure.”
Spreading the love of Latin
Besides his official duties in the Secretariat of State, Fr. Reginald became known throughout the world as “The Latin-lover”—a pseudonym bestowed upon him by his friends at Vatican Radio.
Veronica Scarisbrick interviewed the Carmelite friar for numerous programs in which he delved into his extensive expertise to unveil various facets of Latin and its use in the Church.
In one recently dusted-off program, the Latin-lover cleared up some of the potentially confusing language concerning the Pope’s closest collaborators.
“Cardinals,” explained the renowned Fr. Reginald, “are the hinges on which the Church revolves…we say ‘to create Cardinals’ because the Latin word creare means to appoint them…”
Fr. Reginald Foster, requiescat in pace.