You won’t hear this every day: A visit from the pope has this Swiss diplomat speaking Latin


Pierre-Yves Fux reads Virgil in the original language, and also speaks Greek and Hebrew.

“Per aeroplanum Papa Franciscus Genevam ibit et colloquerur cum rectoribus Confoederationis helveticae”: with these words, the Swiss ambassador to the Holy See, Pierre-Yves Fux, commented on the June visit of Pope Francis to his country for Swiss Radio and Television (RTS).

Pierre-Yves Fux is a Latin scholar—he reads Virgil in the original language—who also speaks Greek and Hebrew, and is a former researcher at the Vatican Secret Archives.

He was given the duty of translating into Latin, on the fly, during the program Pardonnez-moi of the RTS, the following phrase: “Pope Francis will fly to Geneva and meet the Federal Council.”

This trip, planned for June 21, is the result of five years of work, says the ambassador.

When Pope Francis began his pontificate in March 2013, some 80 invitations to visit countries were instantly sent to the new Successor of Peter.

“We worked on it,” the ambassador says, and it was “the Swiss cardinal Kurt Koch [who] initiated this visit,” persuading the pope a little before last Christmas.

Cardinal Koch is the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

According to the diplomat from Geneva, the humanitarian aspect and the defense of international law, which are very important for Switzerland, probably also counted a lot in the decision.

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