Stelten’s Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin arrives

Today I received a copy of Leo F. Stelten’s Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin (via  I’ve not really had a chance to look at it yet.

But this evening it had its first test.  John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas describes the city of Patara, the saint’s home town, as once “rutilabat”.  The Oxford Latin Dictionary gives “rutilo, -are” as “to glow with a bright or golden red colour”, especially thinking of German hair!  Nor did Neimeyer or Blaise give anything different.

Stelten passed.  In church Latin, apparently, it means “shine” or “glow”.  This makes perfect sense of John’s, um, glowing description of the city.

Clearly I need to spend more time with this book.


6 thoughts on “Stelten’s Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin arrives

  1. Hello! Brand new follower here.
    I’ve not found Stelten all that useful except for reading RC Canon Law.
    For your sort of reading, I’d use Souter.
    -John P.

  2. That word comes up in the late antiquity Easter vigil hymn “Aurora lucis rutilat”. There are different “modern” 1600’s versions where they replace the word with “purpurat”, and there’s a version about St. Columba (which is bold but also lazy – I think they just wanted to use a familiar tune, as the words are bland).

    I think the idea is red and shiny or glowing, like a spark (rutilated stones,) or like the sun itself coming over the horizon, not like the dawn sky around the sun.

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