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The records of St Joseph’s Church of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, are on Family Search Labs’ Record Search site. Many of these records are in Latin. I never studied Latin formally; however, I became an altar boy at a very young age in the days when the Catholic Mass was in Latin. I also studied Spanish as a youngster. I’ve always been interested in linguistics and fortunately have been blessed with somewhat of an aptitude for languages.

So I’ve been applying those skills to translating some of the Prairie du Rocher church records that mention the Micheau family. A typical entry is this one:

Die 12a Julii 1900 obit Maria Emma Micheau uxor Georgii Micheau, annos circa 46 nata, ejusque corpus sequenti tumulatum est.

Actually, I think most genealogists could intuit this one. I translated it thusly:

Maria Emma Micheau, wife of George Micheau, died on July 12, 1900. She was about 46 years old. She was buried in the general burial ground.

Here’s a list of Latin terms likely to be found in Catholic records:

* adnotationes: notations or comments
* aetas: age or lifetime
* Anno Domino: Year of Our Lord
* annos: years
* Baptismorum: Baptism
* Confirmatorum: the sacrament of Confirmation
* corpus: body
* dies: day, date
* defunctorum: death, deaths
* Diocesis: diocese
* Ecclesia: church
* Eucharistae sacramentum: The Eucharist (Communion)
* ex: literally, “out of;” used to denote parental relationship or sometimes hometown; for example, “Joseph Micheau ex G. Micheau,” would mean that Joseph is the son of G. Micheau. “Emilie Micheau ex Prairie du Rocher,” of course would indicate that Emilie is a native of Prairie du Rocher.
* fil, fili: son
* liber, libro: book
* Matrimonium: The sacrament of Holy Matrimony; marriage
* mensis: month
* natum, nate, nata: birth, born
* nigrini coloris: “of the color black;” sometimes abbreviated “n. col.,” designates African-Americans
* nomen, nomina: name, names
* obit, obitus: to die
* patrini: literally, “patrons;” used to designate godparents in Baptism or sponsor in Confirmation
* nativitatis locus: birth place
* sacerdos: priest
* sepultum: to interr or bury
* sponsi: literally, “the promised one,” designates groom on marriage records
* sponsae: designates bride on marriage records
* testes: witnesses
* tumulatum: to bury in a mound
* uxor: wife

If anyone would like to add or correct this list, please feel free to join in the discussion!

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Replies to This Discussion

Great topic. I think your translation is correct. I have some odd Latin abbreviations in my records from Germany...let me get them out and I'll add to the discussion.
You did pretty well, Craig! I think the many years of reading Latin in Mass led me to majoring in languages in college.
The LDS at one time had something called a "Spanish extraction Manual"?It was how to read Latin entry's in things like Mission records for death,marriage, and baptism. I understand it is out of print but some family history centers have a copy and you can photo copy it for reference.
I was so glad when The Huntington put the Mission records before 1850 online!It is so hard to read the films for these.If you have family in California before 1850 they are a godsend.

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