Monday 18 March 2013

Pontificating on Bridges

As a new pontiff has been elected, I feel it is my duty to pontificate, which of course means to speak with pompous authority, like a pontiff. Originally, pontificate simply meant "to perform the functions of a pontiff", hence Francis I was pontificating on the balcony.

The Pontifex Maximus was actually the title of the chief pagan priest of Rome. When the empire converted the title was simply moved over to the chief Christian priest. This means that the current Pope has a title that was once held by the Emperor Augustus two thousand years ago.

Pontifex itself means bridge-builder in Latin, perhaps because the priest built a bridge between heaven and earth, or between gods and men, or over the Tiber.

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