By Jim Fair

Pope Francis today sent a telegram of condolence (in Latin, of course) for the passing of famed Vatican Latinist Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD.

Fr. Foster, a friar of the Discalced Carmelite Order, died in his hometown of Milwaukee,  Wisconsin, on Christmas Day, at the age of 81.

The late Carmelite friar—beloved of Vatican Radio listeners as “The Latin-lover”—served as one of the Vatican’s foremost experts in the Latin language for nearly 40 years.

Pope Francis sent a telegram on Monday to Fr. Saverio Cannistrà, the Father General of the Order of Discalced Carmelite Friars, to express his condolences, reported Vatican News. The note was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

The Latin expert worked from 1970 until 2009 in the Latin Letters section of the Secretariat of State, translating papal and Vatican documents into Latin.

Pope Francis said Fr. Reginald “demonstrated the brilliance of Latin to copious numbers of students.”

And the Holy Father prayed that the Latinist of the Popes might receive from God “recompense in full measure.”

Besides his official duties in the Secretariat of State, Fr. Reginald became known throughout the world as “The Latin-lover”—a pseudonym bestowed upon him by his friends at Vatican Radio.

He taught for years at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and held an annual Aestiva Romae Latinitas, always offered free-of-charge.

In 2010, the University of Notre Dame awarded Fr. Reginald an honorary Doctorate for his contribution to Latin studies.

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