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Michigan priest converts pope's tweets into Latin

Following Pope Francis on Twitter
Following Pope Francis on Twitter

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church tweeted on his first anniversary, “Pray for me,” in English, but if you prefer, you can now read the pope’s tweets in Latin, thanks to Michigan priest, Monsignor Daniel Gallagher.

Monsignor Gallagher, a University of Michigan graduate, is on loan to the Vatican from the Diocese of Gaylord. He is the only American in the Office of Latin Letters at the Vatican Secretary of State, and one of seven specialists who translates Pope Francis’ 140-character pronouncements into Latin, the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

There are over 230,000 Spanish-speaking people who follow the pope’s Twitter feed in Latin, “a language that draws more users than German, Polish or Arabic,” according to the Detroit Free Press news report on March 27.

“The popularity of the pope’s Latin Twitter account show that Latin is far from dead,” said Gallagher, “It’s a language that transcends cultures and nations, and many people especially young people still crave for Latin because it’s so much fun.”

Gallagher continued, “The opportunity to compose in Latin as a job and day after day is very unique. Most people who are involved in Latin at higher levels are there because they’re studying it. That’s a different ballgame than writing Latin, which is very unique. We’re the only place in the world…that it’s an official requirement.”

Latin tweets usually follow the pope’s public addresses every Sunday and Wednesday.

Gallagher said he serves at the pleasure of the pope and can envision doing this job for a long time. "It's the kind of job that the learning curve is quite long, and it takes a long time to perfect a certain style, he said, "so the turnover tends to be pretty minimal compared to other jobs at the Vatican. In most cases, it turns out to be a lifelong thing."

Gallagher will be returning to Michigan this weekend as a featured speaker at the University of Michigan, for a two-day Latin gathering, billed as “a living Latin event.”

He will talk about feeding posts at least four times a week to the pope’s Twitter page, and also “translating papal decrees, announcements and letters of commendation to the language of ancient Rome.”

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