Tuesday, June 29, is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

As such, it is the onomastico (name-day) of Paul Rose, and every other Paul out there, as well as all the Peters. Buon onomastico!

Our hymn for this day, O Roma Felix, celebrates the fact that both of these mighty Apostles were martyred at Rome, the imperial city so proud of her royal purple. It was not evident to the violent Caesars of the day, but the lasting glory of their proud city would come from the exploits of the Church Militant, whose captains are Peter and Paul and many more like them, and who fought to the shedding of their own blood instead of the blood of others.

Since we were unable to find a literal translation of that hymn, I made one, with help from Paul and our Uncle Geno. (Nice to have a retired professor of Romance languages in the house!)

At some point I hope to adjust it into a slightly more poetic form, so that it can be sung to the original Gregorian melody, which is a hexameter with each line divided into 5- and 7-syllable parts. I hope such a translation will give us English speakers a more intimate connection to the Latin hymn itself. (Watch this space…)

(Update: An early draft of a metrical translation is at http://rosehome.org/music/roma-felix-metrical.pdf. Syllable counts are correct, but the music of the English is unproven.)


O Roma felix, quae tantorum principum es purpurata pretioso sanguine! Excellis omnem mundi pulchritudinem non laude tua, sed sanctorum meritis, quos cruentatis iugulasti gladiis. O happy Rome, you who from such princes Are robed in the purple of such precious blood! And you excel every worldly loveliness, Not by your praise, but by the merits of the saints Whom you have stabbed to the neck by bloody sword. Vos ergo modo, gloriosi martyres, Petre beate, Paule, mundi lilium, caelestis aulae triumphales milites, precibus almis vestris nos ab omnibus munite malis, ferte super aethera. And therefore you now, glorious martyrs, Blessed Peter, Paul the world's lily, The celestial court's triumphant soldiers: By your kind prayers, fortify us against Every evil, and carry us beyond the sky. Gloria Patri per immensa saecula, sit tibi, Nate, decus et imperium, honor, potestas Sanctoque Spiritui; sit Trinitati salus individua per infinita saeculorum saecula. Amen. Glory be to the Father through endless ages, And to you, O Begotten one, dignity and command, Honor and power, and to the Holy Spirit; Salvation be to the Trinity undivided Through infinite ages of ages. Amen.

translation © 2021 John R. Rose, under CC BY-SA 4.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
melody source: Solesmes 1983 https://gregobase.selapa.net/chant.php?id=10407