Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus...In Latin!
Vere, Virginia, Sanctus Nicolaus est!
Matthias Kringe, Francis Pharcellus Church, Virginia O'Hanlon;Translated by Hermann Wiegand, Walter Sauer
The meaning of Christmas in Latin: a perfect gift!
"Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?" On September 21, 1897, the minds and hearts of two people met and in that meeting created magic that has survived more than a century.
Virginia O'Hanlon's earnest question set New York Sun editor Francis Pharcellus Church to writing. Church's reply, a testimony to the existence of Santa Claus, on the marvels of the unseen but very real world of wonder, are now a part of Christmas lore.
This edition offers a translation into Latin of the text of Church's well-known editorial. The Latin text is handsomely scripted and charmingly illustrated.
- New Latin translation, in ornate script with decorated capitals
- All new, full-color, charming illustrations for the Latin text
- English text on dual-language (English-Latin) pages in easy-to-read type, to aid translation of Latin
- Full Latin-English glossary with "Christmas Memories" journal pages
Francis Pharcellus Church (1839–1906) was a war correspondent for The New York Times during the Civil War. After the war, he and his brother established The Army and Navy Journal and Galaxy Magazine. When Galaxy merged with Atlantic Monthly, Francis became an editorial writer for The New York Sun. Church, a reputed curmudgeon, at first reluctantly took the assignment of answering Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter. He wrote it without a byline and it wasn’t revealed that he was the author until after his death. The editorial was rerun annually by his paper from 1898 until 1949 when the paper went out of business.
Walter Sauer has publications ranging from textbooks on British and American English and on Chaucer’s pronunciation, to scholarly work on Middle English romances and medieval religious literature. He has also published widely on children’s literature, translated several children’s books into his own native German dialect and edited many other dialect and foreign language (including Latin) translations.
Hermann Wiegand has authored/co-edited eight books and ca. eighty articles in the area of Neo-Latin Literature.
Matthias Kringe is a freelance artist, illustrator, and author of a book about the historical background of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael-Novels; a cartoonist and cover artist for (among others) the German MAD Magazine and German STAR WARS Magazine. He has published a cartoon calendar with own comic characters “Dilldappen” since 1982 and holds a Master of Arts in History (Middle Ages), Literature, and Art History.
Comments and Reviews
Among the noted children's books we may recall Pinoculus of H. Maffacini (Pinocchio), A. Lenard's Winne Ille Pu (Winnie the Pooh), Regulus of A. Haury (Le petit prince), Alicia in terra mirabili of C. H. Carruthers (Alice in Wonderland) (if the latter two are realy children's books), and the recent translations of J. Tunberg and T. Tunberg: Quomodo Invidiousulus nomine Grinchus natalem Christi Abrogaverit (How The Grinch Stole Christmas) and Cattus Petasatus (The Cat in the Hat). Such books have a place in the Latin heritage of the Western civilization, but they can also be used as a powerful didactic instrument. By approaching through Latin the archetypes of their childhood, students may create their own shortcuts towards undersanding Latin and more easily internalize a language that for all too many remains external. Furthermore, some of these translations go far beyond the original and proclaim their own life in the new language.
Vere Virginia, Sanctus Nicolaus est! contains two letters: the short inquiry of Virginia, and the longer reply of Franciscus P. Church, the latter one being really a treatise in epistolary form. The language used in the one of philosophical and moral discourse. Some of the monosyllabic sentence endings should be shifted within the sentence to preserve a better Latin rhythm (as in the title Vere, Virginia, Sanctus Nicolaus est!). In favor of a genuine Latin sentence-structure, the vocatives could be moved from the very beginning to second or third position, e.g., on p. 4: Cara Virginia, affirmare ausim amicos tuos parvulos errare, could become Affirmare ausim, cara Virginia, amicos tuos parvulos errare. Also, the name of the sender, alreqady incorporated in the initial greeting, may be omitted at the end of the letters so that Bene vale is the conclusion of the letter (p. 13).
Vere, Virginia, Sanctus Nicolaus est! would be a lovely touch of sophisticaion under the Christmas tree (a Christmas memories journal is included, hopefully to be composed in Latin!), but also an addition to the library of anyone collecting the complete Latin tradition throughout the centuries up to our days.
— Seventeenth Century News
It’s going to be hard to peg this small but elegant picturebook, which looks like a child’s reader but contains an all-Latin version of Church’s story, translated by Walter Sauer and Hermann Wiegand and illustrated by Matthias Kringe. Suffice it to say that students of Latin – of all ages – will find Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus . . . In Latin! both whimsical and a challenge to a student’s elementary-level Latin knowledge. A fun little book.
— James Cox
Midwest Book Review
Volume 11, Number 10
I received what well may be one of the most extraordinary children’s books I have seen in a very long time. It’s Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus . . . in Latin! Translated by Walter Sauer and Hermann Wiegand, it’s Vere, Virginia, Sanctus Nicolaus, est! An English/Latin text, side by side, allows the reader to compare and comprehend. What happens is that a “dead” language comes to life in a most delightful fashion. There are also Latin versions of Doctor Seuss books (Cattus Petasatus) and Words of Wisdom from the Ancients: 1000 Latin Proverbs . . .
— Alan Caruba