Ecclesiastical Latin  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ecclesiastical Latin (sometimes called Liturgical or Church Latin) is the Latin used by the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church in all periods for ecclesiastical purposes. Having developed as a style of Late Latin called sermo humilis, used to preach and otherwise communicate to the people in ordinary language, it can be distinguished from Classical Latin by some lexical variations, a simplified syntax in some cases, and, commonly, in modern times, an Italianate pronunciation. It appears in various contexts, including theological works, liturgical rites, and dogmatic proclamations, and in various styles: syntactically simple as the Vulgate, hieratic as the Roman Canon of the Mass, terse and technical as the language of Aquinas' Summa Theologica, and Ciceronian as Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter Fides et Ratio. In late antiquity and in the early Middle Ages the intended audience or use determined the style the ecclesiastical writer employed; in modern times it depends on the context. Christian Latin refers to the Latin employed in their preaching and writing by Christians of ancient times. As Latin in modern times is used as an official language of the Holy See, Ecclesiastical Latin is the only surviving sociolect of Latin spoken in modern times.

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