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Latin course launches on Duolingo

A Latin missal (courtesy John Aron)

Learning the language ‘allows people of Roman Catholic faith to gain a deeper connection with their religion,’ a spokesman said

Online language learning platform Duolingo has launched a new course for people who want to learn Latin.

The course, which launched at midday on Wednesday, already has several thousand people signed up, the company said. It is free to use and teaches the language through “bitesize lessons” that can be “taken at any time, wherever you are.”

“Latin is around us every day,” a Duolingo spokesman said. “It is on our money, our buildings, even our football shirts. It is the language of law and medicine, and the foundation of many other languages. It is something the new Prime Minister cares deeply about, and is intrinsically linked to the Roman Catholic faith, but to many it is considered a dead language.”

Learning Latin also “allows people of Roman Catholic faith to gain a deeper connection with their religion,” the spokesman added.

The launch comes amid renewed interest in Latin in the Church.

In December 2017, Pope Francis called for young Catholics to learn Latin to help them reflect “on the inner and intimate essence of the human being”. He also urged Latin teachers to “know how to speak to the hearts of the young, know how to treasure the very rich heritage of the Latin tradition to educate them in the path of life, and accompany them along paths rich in hope and confidence”.

Vatican News launched weekly podcast in June called “Hebdomada Papae” (The Pope’s Week), summarising the week’s news in Latin.