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What does 'sic transit' mean?

Updated: 12/18/2022
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12y ago

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The phrase 'sic transit' is from the ancient, classical Latin language. Its meaning is the following: Thus it passes over. The word-by-word translation is as follows: 'sic' means 'thus'; and 'transit' means '[It] crosses, goes over, or passes over'.

Perhaps its most famous use is in the phrase 'Sic transit Gloria mundi', which means 'Thus passes the glory of the world', and more loosely 'Worldly things are fleeting'. The phrase was part of the papal coronation ceremonies until Vatican II [1962-1965]. For the pope used to be stopped three times as he processed to the sacristy of St. Peter's Basilica. Each time, he was shown a smoldering piece of cloth, and told, 'Sancte Pater, sic transit Gloria mundi', which means 'Holy Father, so passes worldly glory'. And so he started his papacy with the reminder of the fleeting nature of life and earthly honors.

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