Her language became, by a most admirable corruption, the speech of Italy, Rumania, France, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America; half the white man’s world speaks a Latin tongue. Latin was, till the eighteenth century, the Esperanto of science, scholarship, and philosophy in the West; it gave a convenient international terminology to botany and zoology; it survives in the sonorous ritual and official documents of the Roman Church; it still writes medical prescriptions, and haunts the phraseology of the law. It entered by direct appropriation, and again through the Romance languages ( regalis, regal, royal; paganus, pagan, peasant ), to enhance the wealth and flexibility of English speech. Our Roman heritage works in our lives a thousand times a day.

When Christianity conquered Rome the ecclesiastical structure of the pagan church, the tide and vestments of the pontifex maximus, the worship of the Great Mother and a multitude of comforting divinities, the sense of supersensible presences everywhere, the joy or solemnity of old festivals, and the pageantry of immemorial ceremony, passed like maternal blood into the new religion, and captive Rome captured her conqueror. The reins and skills of government were handed down by a dying empire to a virile papacy; the lost power of the broken sword was rewon by the magic of the consoling word; the armies of the state were replaced by the missionaries of the Church moving in all directions along the Roman roads; and the revolted provinces, accepting Christianity, again acknowledged the sovereignty of Rome. Through the long struggles of the Age of Faith the authority of the ancient capital persisted and grew, until in the Renaissance the classic culture seemed to rise from the grave, and the immortal city became once more the center and summit of the world’s life and wealth and art. When, in 1936, Rome celebrated the 2689th anniversary of her foundation, she could look back upon the most impressive continuity of government and civilization in the history of mankind. May she rise again.