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Tombstone Latin

by Joel GAzis-SAx

Copyright MM by Joel GAzis-SAx

Click here for a guide to Latin numbers and dates

ad patres - "To the fathers", dead or gone away.

anno aetatis suae (A.A.S.) - In the year of her/his age

anno Domini (A.D.) - In the year of our Lord

annos vixit (a.v.) - He/she lived [so many years]

beatae memoriae (B.M.) - Of blessed memory

Dei gratia - By the grace of God

Dei gratias - Thanks be to God

Deo, Optimo, Maximo (D.O.M.) - To God, the Best, the Greatest (motto of the Benedictine order)

Domino, Optimo, Maximo (D.O.M.) - The Lord, the Best, the Greatest.(alternate motto)

Gloria in Excelsis Deo - Glory be to God, the Most High

hic iacet or hic jacet (H.I.) - Here lies (Ancient Latin has no letter "J": the letter was added later)

hic iacet sepultus (H.I.S.) - Here lies buried

hic sepultus (H.S.) - Here is buried

Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum (I.N.R.I.) - Jesus Christ, King of the Jews (usually appears posted at the top of a cross, in commemoration of the Roman mocking of Christ)

in hoc salus (I.H.S.) - There is safety in this. This is one of three interpretations of the letters IHS which often appear on Roman Catholic tombstones and monuments. Some say that this was used to mark the way to secret Christian masses in the Roman catacombs. The letters are sometimes superimposed on each other, forming an inscription that looks like this: |$|

in hoc signo spes mea (I.H.S.) - In this sign (the cross of Christ) is my hope

in hoc signos vinces (I.H.S.) - By this sign you will conquer. The Emperor Constantine is said to have seen a firey cross in the sky before the Battle of Milvan Bridge. (312 A.D.) He made his men paint crosses on their shields. They won. Constantine ceased persecution of Christians and became one on his deathbed.

laus Deo - Praise be to God

memento mori - "Remember you must die". The phrase is also used for the small souvenirs that are sometimes handed out at funerals.

obiit (ob.) - He/she died

requiescat in pace (R.I.P.) - May he/she rest in peace

requiescant in pace (R.I.P.) - May they rest in peace

requiescit in pace (R.I.P.) - He/she rest in peace

Verbi Dei Minister (V.D.M.) - Minister of the Word of God

Learn Latin (

*Believe it, posterity (Horace)

For further reading:

Latin for the Illiterati: Exorcizing the Ghosts of a Dead Language by Jon R. Stone

More Latin for the Illiterati: A Guide to Everyday Medical, Legal and Religious Latin by Jon R. Stone

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Click here for a guide to Latin numbers and dates
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