Latin in English in Rome

Latin in English in Rome is a year-long course taught using the system developed by Reginald Foster, Papal Latinist for four popes, and offered by his co-author, Daniel McCarthy, lecturer at the:


Latin in English in Rome

PIL course: Lingua Latina course number: 01031

Brief description
Instructor; contact Prof. Daniel McCarthy at this email address.
Enrol; contact the Registrar at this email address.
Residence; contact Prior Mauritius Wilde, OSB, at this email address.
Visa; contact Prior Mauritius Wilde, OSB, at this email address.
No exams

Instructor: Daniel P. McCarthy

photo of Fr Daniel P McCarthy OSB

Brief description

If you wish to understand the Latin language and its literature for the past 2,300 years, and you wish to study in English, this course will provide Latin’s bones, how the language is structured and connects together. This course is part of the preparatory year of linguistic study at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy at Sant’Anselmo, Rome, although other people are welcome to enrol and join our study.

We shall use the system developed by Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD, papal Latinist for four popes over 40 years, as presented in the volume Ossa Latinitatis Sola ad mentem reginaldi rationemque: The Mere Bones of Latin according to the thought and system of Reginald, and its companion volume Ossium Carnes Multae e Marci Tullii Ciceronis epistulis: The Bones’ Meats aboundant from the epistles of Marcus Tullius Cicero. We presume no prior knowledge of the Latin language, but require dedicated personal study and daily application.

The instructor

Daniel McCarthy is a lecturer in liturgy at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy, having completed a doctorate in Sacred Liturgy in 2008 writing on ritual, and church art and architecture (description). He became a student of Reginald in 1999 and later his colleague as they wrote together the five volumes of the Latinitatis Corpus which presents the method of teaching the Latin language developed by Reginald. During the course of these twenty-one years of study and collaboration they also published with James Leachman their own English renditions of some 170 prayers of the Missale Romanum in The Tablet of London (listing) as well as chapters in Appreciating the Collect (description) and Transition in the Easter Vigil (description).


People are welcome to enrol in this programme alone, who do not otherwise intend to study liturgy here. Please enrol before our first session on Monday, 5 October 2021. You may contact the Registrar directly at this email address and request information for enrolling in “PIL course nº 01032 for academic year 2021-2022”. You may correspond in English.

You may also access the online registration form provided by the Registrar here; you will need to give your consent for the Registrar to store your registration information, then the form will appear. The general page with other contact information for the office of the Registrar is available here.

The Pontifical Institute of Liturgy is part of the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’Anselm. Because this offering in English is new to our programme of studies, it will appear for the first time in the offerings for academic year 2021-2022 after it is posted in early June 2021. Thereafter you may access course descriptions from this web-page; select the button “Segretaria”; in the drop down menu choose: “Ordo anni accademici Course descriptions” and the course listings for academic year 2021-2022 will open in PDF format.


The convenience of living in the same residence where you study will prove invaluable in such a bustling city, although participants are free to arrange their own accommodation elsewhere. You may enquire into residing at Sant’Anselmo, the Benedictine residence in the heart eternal city. We are located on the peak of the Aventine hill, one of the seven hills of ancient Rome. Meals are provided daily with the resident monastic community, but residents are also free to enjoy the restaurants in the surrounding city. This course is held on site.

For participants wishing a more immersive programme, at Sant’Anselmo we pray in Latin in sung Gregorian chant several times a day: 1) before lunch, 2) at vespers or evening prayer 3) and at compline concluding the day. Both morning prayer and the Eucharistic liturgy are celebrated in Italian.

Our residents are mostly male monks from diverse languages and cultures from throughout the world, although in recent years we have provided dedidcated accommodation for women to reside with us. Beginning in the Autumn of 2021 several on-site guest rooms with ensuite toilet, sink and shower will be available for women who wish to participate in this course. Please reserve your room early as accommodation is limited. Male participants may request ensuite facilities but more typically reside in private rooms with shared rest-room facilities.

If you wish to reside at Sant’Anselmo, please enquire directly with Prior Mauritius Wilde, OSB, who is fluent in English at this email address. More information about residing at Sant’Anselmo is available here.


Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa to stay in Italy for the duration of the course. Typically this is arragned with the help of the authority where you reside. If you reside at Sant’Anselmo, the Prior Mauritius at this email address will be ready to assist you with the necessary documents. The application process may take some time, so please check ahead and allow for any eventuality.

Latin in English in Rome


By the end of the course participants will have …

  1. developed a clear understanding of the structure of the Latin language and its modes of expression over the past 2,300 years,
  2. rendered Latin texts into clear English and English texts into good Latin,
  3. understood the ambiguities of each language and
  4. be prepared to sit the proficiency exam in Latin for admission to the License cycle at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy.


Daily encounters will be held from 1 hour and 35 minutes (including a 5 min. break) on every lecture day of academic year 2021-2022 from 5 October 2021 until the end of May 2022.

Structure of the Course


Our daily hour and-a-half encounters are too brief to include a full presentation of the material. So, participants are advised to read carefully and fully consider before each daily session the Encounter assigned to that day from the Ossa volume; they are encouraged to come to the encounter with their questions ready.


During our encounters we shall read authentic Latin texts from every era and genre of the language for a patient and careful understanding, and we shall render them into clear English. We shall also work with them to produce our own expressions in Latin.

By the end of each encounter the instructor will present a ludus domesticus for the participants to complete daily, on their own, not working together, so that each person has to wrestle with their own understanding of the language until the concepts become clear. These are not typical homework exercises, but really are games to lead us into the adventure of learning the Latin language. 

Ludus domesticus = home games

Each ludus shall be handed in either on the appointed day, during the next encounter or soon thereafter. The instructor will review them and hand them back in a subsequent encounter for discussion. 

In this way, with a bit of guidance from the instructor, the participants will teach themselves to understand the Latin language.


The Ossa volume has 105 Encounters intended to be spread out over three years of learning the Latin language, so that the mind may take its time to learn the material well. We have approximately 125 Encounters during this academic year so we plan to cover in one academic year the material presented in the entire Ossa volume over three academic years. Because several of the ludi domestici are doubled-up, there are a total of at least 98 ludi for this entire program of study. This means that a ludus completed in private study will be due on most days. Completing a ludus daily and reading the Ossa volume before each Encounter will require the participants to apply themselves to several hours of private study daily. After we have completed all of the Encounters and ludi, we shall continue with readings of the Latin language from many different authors and eras accompanied by additional ludi of the highest level.

Learning activities

  • Private preparation by reading the encounters of Ossa.
  • Group sight reading, understanding and rendering into English,
  • Group sight rendering into Latin,
  • Private study using the ludi domestici,
  • Group review of corrected ludi domestici,
  • Regular and frequent consultation of the dictionary,
  • Learning how to use the dictionary,
  • Learning how to continue studying Latin on your own.


This course has no final exam, only the regular study and practice of the Latin language. Valuation will be determined on a continuous basis. Participants are expected to participate in our daily encounters and to complete and hand in the ludi regularly. The valuation mark indicates participation by attending our encounters and doing the ludi domestici rather than a particular proficiency in the Latin language. More than five absences or ludi not handed in per semester other than due to illness will result in a lower valuation at the end of the semester. Students from other institutes who take this course for credit will receive from the Pontificium Athenaeum Sancti Anselmi ECTS credits for their study of Latin, provided they attend the encounters regularly and hand-in the regular Ludi domestici.

Proficiency Exam

This course is intended, however, to prepare students for the proficiency exam required for entry into the licentiate programme of studies at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy. The proficiency exam is administered at the beginning of the first semester annually, that is around the beginning of October. That exam texts not attendance but proficiency.


Each participant must have two essential books:

  1. Students new to the study of Latin will appreciate the simpler and less expensive dictionary for the first semester of their study: SIMPSON, D.P., Cassell’s Latin Dictionary: Latin – English, English – Latin, Houghton – Mifflin – Harcourt, Boston – New York 1968 with later reprints with later reprints, or equivalent with an English to Latin section.  Also available in Rome through the several places mentioned below.
  2. By the second semester students will need their own copy of the LEWIS, C.T.,- C. SHORT, A Latin Dictionary, Oxford UP, Oxford – New York 1879, thereafter reprinted. The printed volume is advantageous, but the resource is available online in several formatts (not without some difficulties).
  3. Students are expected to read the 105 encounters from this volume in preparation for our daily encounters: FOSTER, R.T. – D.P. McCARTHY, Ossa Latinitatis sola ad mentem Reginaldi rationemque: The Mere Bones of Latin according to the thought and system of Reginald(Latinitatis corpus 1), Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC 2016. Available in print from the publisher or in Rome through the several places mentioned below. Available also in digital format directly from the publisher here.
  4. We shall study letters and tweets as they were originally composed by the master of Latinity, Cicero himself, as they are presented in: FOSTER, R.T. – D.P. McCARTHY, Ossium Carnes Multae e Marci Tullii Ciceronis epistulis: The Bones’ Meats aboundant from the epistles of Marcus Tullius Cicero (Latinitatis corpus 2), Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC 2021. Available in print from the publisher in Rome through the several places mentioned below. Available also in digital format directly from the publisher here.

Recommended for advancing students

Cassell’s dictionary mentioned above is intended for the beginning student. It has the essential material needed without overburdening. As students advance, they are strongly encouraged to invest in the Lewis and Short Latin dictionary which will serve for the rest of their career. The current edition was published in the late 1800s, so a used copy is just as current.

Online resources
Parsing tool with Lewis and Short Dictionary

♦  Latin Work Study Tool with the Lewis and Short dictionary available here: Enter an inflected form of your word in the field under the heading “Dictionary Entry Lookup”, located in the column on the right.

Lewis and Short dictionary search tool

♦ LEWIS and SHORT entry word search: This is another version of the above entry word search. This one is well laid-out for easier reading. Enter the dictionary entry for your word in the field at the top left of the page.

image of the search page for Logeion

Even more Latin dictionaries are available on Logeion, including Lewis and Short. Enter the dictionary entry for your word in the field at the top of this page. If the search produces entries from several different dictionaries, they are listed first and you can choose which one you wish to consult.

English to Latin for advanced students

A complete English to Latin dictionary is: W. SMITH – T.D. HALL, A copious and critical English-Latin dictionary, Harper & brothers, New York 1850, is available in PDF format for download here, and in several versions from the Open Library here. You can also use this online research tool to look up Latin equivalents of English words from this dictionary here.

Recommended for full Latin reference

GILDERSLEEVE, B.L, – G. LODGE, Gildersleeve’s Latin Grammar, Bolchazy-Carducci, Wauconda IL 2003, reprint of 31985. This is available for online viewing and download.

Contact information

The instructor requests that you not phone him. Rather, please contact him via email at this address.

Pathway of Study
Latin in English in Rome

5 October 2021, Tuesday – organisational encounter
6 October 2021, Wednesday Encounter 1

Read and prepare before class Encounter 1 in Ossa.
Distributed during first encounter: Experience I, Ludus 01
This is an example page of how I approached the work here. We’ll do this first sentence together during our Encounter, just to help you see how to complete a lusus domesticus.

7 October 2021, Thursday, Encounter 2

Read and prepare before class Encounter 2 in Ossa.
Due during this session: Experience I, Ludus 01.
Distributed during this session: Experience I, Ludus 02
Encounter 2 PDF
Encounter 2 docx

Latin in English in Rome

This course is offered in English at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy housed at:

Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 5
00153 Roma, Italia

See map below.


You may purchase Ossa in print in several bookstores in Rome. A pdf version of the volume is available for use on your device directly from the publisher here.

Our books and Cassell’s dictionary are available at the English desk at:

Pauline multimedia
via del Mascherino, 94
00193 Roma
Tel. 06.6872354
Fax: 06.68308093
contact Silvia:
General enquiries:


You may also purchase materials at Libreria Sole, located directly across the street from the Gregorian University:

Libreria Sole
Via dei Lucchesi 20
00187 Rome, Italy
Tel.: +39 06 679 06 75

Cassell’s Latin dictionary is also available on here.

Latin resources

I have begun to develop a page of resources for the Latin language including: dictionaries, grammars, resources, texts, links.

External links

Read about our publications, Latinitatis Corpus, presenting the method of teachin Latin developed by Reginald Foster during forty years of teaching in Rome, available here.

Read about Reginald Foster with links to his publications and publications about him here.

My abbey ran a brief article about this course available here.

PrayTell blog mentioned our course here.

© D.P. McCarthy, Latin in English in Rome, updated on 12 March 2021.