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 CNS Story:

POPE-MEDALLION (SECOND CORRECTION) Apr-29-2008 (440 words) xxxn

Papal medallion given to people during U.S. visit features Capitol, U.N.

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- People who had the opportunity to greet Pope Benedict XVI personally during his U.S. visit received a special bronze commemorative medallion featuring a bas-relief bust of the pope on the front.

On the obverse are bas-reliefs of the U.S. Capitol on the right, commemorating the Washington leg of his visit, and of the U.N. building in New York on the left, with the U.N. logo superimposed over it, to mark his last U.S. stop in New York. There the chief event was a major papal speech on human rights at U.N. headquarters.

Pope Benedict distributed the medallions to men, women and children who had been chosen to greet him at a variety of venues in Washington and New York during his April 15-20 trip to the United States, his first U.S. visit as a pope.

The front of the commemorative medallion, which is about two inches in diameter, shows the pope, with the Latin words "Benedictus XVI Pontifex Maximus" (Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff) encircling the papal sculpture.

The obverse carries an inscription in Latin that translates as "Visits the United States of America and the United Nations April 15-20, 2008."

The Latin reads: "Foed. Am. Sept. Civitates et Nationes Unitas Invisit XV.XX. Aprilis MMVIII." The abbreviated first three words stand for "Foederatas Americae Septentrionalis" -- which, coupled with "Civitates," mean "the United States of North America."

It has long been standard practice in church Latin to use "Septentrionalis" ("North") to modify "America" as part of the proper name of the United States.

Traditionally for many years the Vatican had used "status" instead of "civitates" as the term for the states of the United States. For example, the 19th-century decree by Pope Leo XIII establishing the Pontifical North American College as the U.S. national seminary in Rome uses some form of the phrase "Foederati Americae Septentrionalis Status" five times.

In recent times the Vatican has used "civitates" as the term for U.S. states. The terminology is still a subject of debate, however. The Web resource "Vicipaedia" -- the Latin version of the popular online encyclopedia "Wikipedia" -- uses "civitates" in its main entry for the United States but calls the Latinity of the phrase dubious and has a discussion among contributors whether "civitates" or "status" is the better term.

Although "United States" and "United Nations" use the same adjective of "united" in English, the Latin is more nuanced, recognizing the United States as a federation of states, which would not apply in the same sense to the United Nations.


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