Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis

quovadischurchIn Volume II of The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch notes that the stational church for today, Monday of Holy Week, was originally the church commonly known as Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis – the Church of Domine Quo Vadis.

The station originally was the Church “de fasciola,” which according to an old legend took its origin from an incident during St. Peter’s flight from Rome at the time of Nero’s persecution. This is the story. The apostle had come to the first milestone on the Appian Way when the bandage (fascia) covering his foot-wounds (due to prison chains) became loose. Suddenly the Lord appeared to him. Peter asked, “Domine, quo vadis? (Lord, where are you going?)” Jesus answered, “I go to Rome, to be crucified again.” Ashamed, Peter returned to the city.

This is, of course, the story that provided the inspiration and the title for Henryk Zienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis.

The station for Monday of Holy Week was moved in the tenth century to its current spot  – Santa Prassede.

The site for the  Canons Regular of St. John Cantius has an excellent article about the ancient tradition of observing the stational churches.

On Canon 916, holding oneself back from Communion, and an interesting thought of St. Thomas

Canon Lawyer Dr. Ed Peters of Sacred Heart Seminary has a post on Canons 915 and 916 in light of the current questions of interpretation on how to conduct the giving or receiving of Communion by those who are notorious grave sinners or otherwise not in communion with the Church.  Dr. Peters hits the main difficulty from the human point of view:

To be sure, both canons make serious demands on the faithful.
It’s not easy for an individual Catholic to refrain from going to holy Communion at Mass. The so-called ‘Communion fast’ offers no cover for a Catholic with a doubtful, let alone a guilty, conscience. These days, to remain in the pew while everyone else goes to Communion is tantamount to saying “I think I’m in the state of grave sin.” Who wants to imply that?

We are weak human beings, and it takes a lot of strength to do such a thing.  Of course, strength, robur (which literally implies the steadfastness of an oak tree) is the effect of one of the other sacraments, namely, Confirmation, the sacrament that makes you “firm”.  In this line of thought, St. Thomas has this interesting statement, which, as far as I know, he only says once in all of his works:

…for all the other sacraments are seen to be ordered to this sacrament [i.e., the Eucharist] as to an end.  For it is manifest that the sacrament of Orders is ordered to the consecration of the Eucharist.  But the sacrament of Baptism is ordered to the reception of the Eucharist.  In this, someone is also perfected through Confirmation, so that he may not be afraid to withdraw himself from such a sacrament…

An interesting thought: an effect of Confirmation is the fortitude not to go to Communion when you shouldn’t.  This could certainly be useful today, when many parishes have the enforced courtesy squad in the form of ushers who let us know when it is our turn to receive Communion.

Of course, in St. Thomas’ day, the reception of Confirmation generally preceded the reception of first Communion in the West.  Today, it is not so, at least in the U.S.  And I don’t think that the practice has to change just because of this consideration.  Confirmation itself does not carry in its notion any determination as to age; its determination is left free to the discretion of the Church’s ministers.   Nevertheless, I think it would be nice if by some determination of positive law, we made it easier for conscientious Catholics to “withdraw” from the reception of Communion when they judge they should not.  For that, I support Dr. Ed Peters’ own proposals for modifying the Communion fast.

“Look Inside!” available for Vol. I of the Summa

Summa Look InsideBut, unfortunately, we’re not sure that this is an asset at the moment as the page-views of Volume I of the Summa Theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas that has posted right now are terrible (they look like grainy photocopies of photocopies) and not at all representative of the actual quality of the book.

We hasten to assure everyone that actual printed text is crisp and clear, and we are communicating with to try to improve the quality of their “Look Inside!” images.

That said, we are excited that the the opportunity to search inside the text of a parallel translation of Questions 1-64 of the Summa is now available, though the poor quality of the images right now does compromise the search results.

Happy Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas The words of Popes down through the centuries concerning St. Thomas Aquinas, author of the Summa Theologiae:

Innocent VI (c. 1352-1362): “His teaching above that of others, the canonical writings alone excepted, enjoys such a precision of language, an order of matters, a truth of conclusions, that those who hold to it are never found swerving from the path of truth, and he who dare assail it will always be suspected of error.”

Urban V (1368), to the University of Toulouse:
“It is our will, which We hereby enjoin upon you, that ye follow the teaching of Blessed Thomas as the true and Catholic doctrine and that ye labor with all your force to profit by the same.”

Pius V (1567): Declared St. Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church.

Leo XIII (1879): “The doctrines of these illustrious men [the Church Fathers], like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith.”

“Moreover, the Angelic Doctor pushed his philosophic inquiry into the reasons and principles of things, which because they are most comprehensive and contain in their bosom, so to say, the seeds of almost infinite truths, were to be unfolded in good time by later masters and with a goodly yield.”

“And as he also used this philosophic method in the refutation of error, . . . he victoriously combated the errors of former times, and supplied invincible arms to put those to rout which might in aftertimes spring up.”

Pius X (1914):
“The principles of philosophy laid down by St. Thomas Aquinas are to be religiously and inviolably observed, because they are the means of acquiring such a knowledge of creation as is most congruent with the Faith; of refuting all the errors of the ages, and of enabling man to distinguish clearly what things are to be attributed to God and to God alone.”

“The principles of St. Thomas, considered generally and as a whole, contain nothing but what the most eminent philosophers and doctors of the Church have discovered after prolonged reflection and discussion in regard to the particular reasons determining human knowledge, the nature of God and creation, the moral order and the ultimate end to be pursued in life.”

“The capital theses in the philosophy of St. Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the whole science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that the students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church.”

Pius XI (1923):
“In dealing orally or in writing with divine things, he provides theologians with a striking example of the intimate connection which should exist between the spiritual and the intellectual life. For just as a man cannot be really said to know some distant country, if his acquaintance is confined merely to a description of it, however accurate, but must have dwelt in it for some time; so nobody can attain to an intimate knowledge of God by mere scientific investigation, unless he also dwells in the most intimate association with God. The aim of the whole theology of St. Thomas is to bring us into close living intimacy with God.”

“He insists that all who undertake to defend the Christian faith shall hold sacrosanct the principle that: ‘It is not mere folly to assent to the things of faith though they are beyond reason’ (Contra Gentes, I, vi). He shows that, although the articles of belief are mysterious and obscure, the reasons which persuade us to believe are nevertheless clear and perspicuous, for, says he, ‘a man would not believe unless he saw that there were things to be believed’ (II-II, i, 4).”

Pius XII (1939): “Emulation in seeking and propagating the truth is not supressed, but is rather stimulated and given its true direction by commending the teaching of St. Thomas.”

“If one considers all this well, he will easily see why the Church demands that future priests be instructed in philosophy ‘according to the method, doctrine, and principles of the Angelic Doctor,’ since, as we well know from the experience of centuries, the method of Aquinas is singularly preeminent both of teaching students and from bringing truth to light; his doctrine is in harmony with Divine Revelation, and is most effective both for safeguarding the foundation of the faith and for reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound progress.”

Paul VI (1964): “For so great is the power of the Doctor’s genius, so sincere his love of truth, and so great his wisdom in investigating the deepest truths, in illustrating them, and linking them together with a most fitting bond of unity, that his teaching is a most efficacious instrument not only for safeguarding the foundations of faith, but also in gaining the fruits of healthy progress with profit and security.”

John Paul II ( 1998 ): “Profoundly convinced that ‘whatever its source, truth is of the Holy Spirit’ (omne verum a quocumque a Spiritu Sancto est), St. Thomas was impartial in his love for truth. He sought truth wherever it might be found and gave consummate demonstration of its universality. In him, the Church’s Magisterium has seen and recognized the passion for truth; and, precisely because it stays consistently within the horizon of universal, objective, and transcendent truth, his thought scales ‘heights unthinkable to human intelligence.’ Rightly then, he may be called an ‘apostle of the truth.’ Looking unreservedly to truth, the realism of Thomas could recognize the objectivity of truth and produce not merely a philosophy of ‘what seems to be’ but a philosophy of ‘what is.’”

A New Latin-English Summa

Latin-English EditionA copy of the complete Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas is a must-have for any Catholic theologian, theology student, priest, or seminarian, and it’s a great work to have on the shelf for anyone with an interest in theology or philosophy.

It would seem obvious, then, to create an edition that:

  • Presents the Latin of St. Thomas alongside a classic English translation,
  • Consists of fewer than ten volumes,
  • Is affordable for the average individual, not just the average institution.

Until now, though, the only Latin-English edition of the Summa consisted of 60 volumes with varying translations – and a price tag of $39.99 for each volume or nearly $2,000 for the set.

NovAntiqua is pleased to announce that we are stepping in to fill the gap:

Volume One of the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas: Latin-English Edition is now available on with a list price of $24.95. Volume One contains Questions 1-64 of the Prima Pars, or in other words, covers roughly the first half of the first part of the three-part work.

To put this into perspective, this one volume presents the questions that the first nine volumes of the 60-volume set cover.Summa Vol. 1 Page

The English translation that the NovAntiqua edition utilizes is the translation of the Dominican Fathers of the English Province, often known as the “Benziger,” after its first U.S. publisher. The translation is the most widely used English translation, appreciated for its overall faithfulness to the Latin of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The text is arranged in a parallel-column format, Latin on the left and English on the right.

This is, of course, just the first volume of what will be a complete Latin-English edition of the Summa. We anticipate that the second volume, covering the second half of the Prima Pars – Questions 65-119 – will be available by Easter.

Quo Vadis now available on

QuoVadisCoverGet an gift certificate for Christmas? Looking for a good read to launch the new year – one that grips the imagination, informs the mind, and challenges the soul? Well, look no further:

Quo Vadis, the first title to be released by NovAntiqua, is now available for purchase on

Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis is a work of fiction that makes vividly present the time of the first martyrs of Rome. Sienkiewicz strives for historical accuracy, drawing on documents of the time – writings of the Roman historians Tacitus, Pliny the Elder, and Suetonius – but far from a dry history-book account, Quo Vadis is a story of living, breathing men and women.

Sienkiewicz lifts Nero from being a name on an ancient page and captures the emperor’s grotesquely immature self-centeredness. He brings out the shock that the early Christian Church was to the Roman empire – the clash between a religion of love and self-denial that called on its followers to love even their enemies, and a culture that put aesthetics and self-fulfillment at the center of life.

Quo Vadis is not peopled with plaster saints, however. Sienkeiwicz does not gloss over the agonizing choices that confronted the early Christians, nor the suffering and death that was the birth of the Church in Rome. Alongside the suffering, though, he reveals the grace that undergirded and overshadowed these heroic men and women – grace that did not eliminate pain and suffering, but transformed it and those who bore it.

Quo Vadis is available from, and it’s eligible for Free Super Saver shipping (combined with other eligible items for a total greater than $25).

NovAntiqua’s January Debut

We are proud to announce that January 2009 will mark the official debut of NovAntiqua in the world of books.

Our first title to hit the presses was a literary sensation when it was initially released in 1895, and it is regarded as a classic a century later.


Henryk Sienkiewicz’s work Quo Vadis deftly weaves together history and fiction, capturing the birth of the Christian Church in the midst of the decadence and cruelty of first-century Rome. He tells a story of lust, of love, of conversion and transformation, and of the cost of following One who asks only everything, even life itself.

This volume presents the classic English translation of Jeremiah Curtin, the translation in which Quo Vadis received its recognition in the English-speaking world, and the translation in which generations of readers have had their introduction to Nero’s Rome.

Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) was a Polish author and journalist who won the 1905 Nobel Prize in Literature for his “outstanding merits as an epic writer.” Quo Vadis was and remains his most sought-after work, achieving great popularity within his lifetime and still noted for its depiction of Rome under the rule of Nero.

Stay tuned for our announcement that Quo Vadis is available for purchase.

Check back here for news of other upcoming titles, or stay updated by subscribing to our blog in a feed reader or via e-mail.

Merry Christmas from NovAntiqua


Merry Christmas from NovAntiqua

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:6-7