Sunday, September 28, 2014

Conduc in caelum omnes animas pauperculas

What Are the Authentic Words of the Fatima Prayer?

During one of the Church-approved apparitions to the three children at Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady requested that a new prayer be added after every decade of the rosary, after the "Glory be to the Father" ("Gloria Patri") is said. The prayer is commonly translated as follows, but for some reason I've been trying to discover, this commonly used version doesn't match the words that Lucia told one author that Our Lady used. 
Latin English
Domine Iesu, dimitte nobis debita nostra. Salva nos ab igne inferiori. Perduc in caelum omnes animas, praesertim eas, quae misericordiae tuae maxime indigent. Amen.O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

It started when I was preparing a Rosary handout for my Latin students (see How to Pray the Rosary and the Angelus in Latin). I remembered that a friend had once told me that the last words of the Fatima  prayer as dictated by Our Lady during her appearance on July 13 to the three children of Fatima, Portugal were, according to Lucia Santos: "in most need." The wording that almost everyone uses adds "of thy mercy." 

When I looked it up, I found that Sr. Lucia had supposedly told a quite different version of the prayer to author William Thomas Walsh in an interview published in a book titled Our Lady of Fátima (Macmillan, 1947)[1] Sr. Lucia stated to the author that "The correct form is … : 'O my Jesus, pardon us, and save us from the fire of hell; draw all souls to heaven, especially those most in need.'" So Lucia's version does not have the commonly added phrase "of thy mercy" at the end of it.

The author also gave the original Portuguese in a footnote: "Ó meu Jesus, perdoai-nos e livrai nos do fogo do inferno; levai as alminhas todas para o Céu, principalmente aquelas que mais precisarem." The diminutive "alminhas" could be translated as "poor little souls." I love that the phrase expresses a sense of endearment and affection for those who are in danger of going to hell.

In Latin, alminhas can be translated into pauperculas animas. The version I see most often follows next, with "pauperculas animas" inserted in the Latin and "poor little souls" inserted in the English by me:
O mi Iesu, dimitte nobis debita nostra, libera nos ab igne inferni, conduc in caelum omnes animas pauperculas, praesertim illas quae maxime indigent.Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, draw all poor little souls to heaven, especially those in most need. Amen
  • "Domine Iesu," from the first version of the Fatima prayer I showed above has been replaced with "O mi Iesu," an exact translation of the Portuguese words, "Ó meu Jesus." 
  • The word "inferiori" is replaced with "inferni." 
  • The phrase "misericodiae tuae" or "of thy mercy," is removed, so that the thought of the prayer stops with "illas quae maxim indigent," or "those who most greatly are in need."
I've seen "O mi Iesu" and "inferni" in the common translations, but removing the phrase "misericodiae tuae" is the point at which I started to doubt myself.  The dictionaries I looked at say that the verb "indigo, indigere" of which "indigent" is present active participle, takes  genitive or ablative. And so I suspect that "misericodiae tuae" may have been inserted in the Latin version  because of the Latin grammar rule, and then the "of thy mercy" phrase made it over to English.

I brought this point up with Stephen Cordova, medievalist and Latin scholar, and he thought I should use the "versio typica" (official version). I can't find a verso typica, and so, I told him, I would like to use "animas pauperculas" and leave out "misericordiae tuae," because that way my version will most closely match the version told by Lucia to the author I quoted earlier in this post. He said that the participle "indigent" does not require the genitive or ablative. I'm sticking with the version above. Hope it doesn't confuse any of my students that I am teaching them a non-standard version.

I would love to get your opinion on this.

Related post:
How Did Pope John Paul II Have the Nerve to Create Those Mysteries of Light? 

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