Latin IS English!

February 19, 2008

The “Nicene Creed” in Latin & English

The Symbolum Nicaenum, or Nicene Creed, has a complex history.  It was first promulgated at the Council of Nicea (325), though in an abbreviated form from what we have below.  St. Athanasius attributes its composition to the Papal Legate to the Council, Hossius of Cordova.  The Creed is also sometimes called the Nicene-Constantinoplan Creed since it appears inthe Acts of the Council of Constantinople (381), but it is clear that this Council is not the source of that composition for it appears in complete form in the Ancoratus of Epiphanius of Salamis some seven years earlier in 374.  In any case, it was this text that appears in the Acts of the Council of Constantinople that was formally promulgated at Chalcedon in 451 and has come down to us as our present Nicene Creed.  It was at the councils of Nicea and Constantinople that the true nature of Jesus was defended against two heresies that had sprung up. The Arians denied Christ’s divinity and the Monophysites denied Christ’s humanity. The councils, drawing upon the traditions handed down to them from the Apostles, condemned both heresies and declared that Jesus was indeed both true God and true man.  

 CREDO in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.   

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.  

Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei **unigenitum,  ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omnia facta sunt.   
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father; through Whom all things were  made.  

Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.   

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven.  And he was made flesh by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. 

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris.  

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; suffered, and was buried. On the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  

Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis.  

And He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.  

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.  

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  

Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.  
Who, with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified: Who has spoken through the Prophets.  

Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.   
And (I believe in) one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  

Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.  

I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen. 
**Not only is Christ God’s “only begotten” son (via His incarnation by a “virgin” woman through the agency of the Holy Spirit), He is more significantly, as one of the three “persons” of the trinitarian Godhead, the “unique” Son of God. For more on the “uniqueness” (uniqenitum) of Christ as the “God-Man,” see: Jesus Christ: God’s “Unique” Son (John 3:16; cf. 1 John 4:9 Greek & Latin).



  1. Thanks for the invite…cool.

    Comment by Lori — February 25, 2008 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  2. This is perfect! We chant the creed in Latin at my parish and I was looking for a Latin/English version of it, so I can better pray it.

    Comment by Lori W. — August 3, 2009 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  3. “Unigenitum” is ”only – begotten” and not – as the parentheses seem to suggest – ‘uniqueness’

    The saying of the Mass in Latin should never have been done away with, indeed criminalised.

    I and countless generations were brought up on it.

    Big mistake.


    Comment by Keith Simpson — January 8, 2012 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

  4. I was born after the Vatican II council and the only way I am familiar with the Nicene Creed is in English. I was glad to get the Latin translation for it purely out of curiosity. Why did the Vatican II council decide to have Mass said in English? Trying to read the Creed aloud in Latin, I am sure my pronunciation was bad that I was not accenting the syllables right or pronouncing everything right. I think my priest would have laughed at me had he heard me try saying this as it originally should have been intended for!!

    Comment by Cindy S — January 22, 2012 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

    • Vatican II did not decree that Mass is to be in the vernacular. Vatican II permitted certain vernacular uses and when the Mass of Paul VI was introduced it snowballed into a full vernacular Mass in the majority of locations. The official language of the Roman Catholic Church and of the Mass is still Latin and always will be.

      Comment by Mark — January 24, 2012 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  5. This is not the correct Nicene Creed. It does not say, “Consubstantial with the Father” See, see what happens when you let just one iota of modernism in the church and take away Latin!

    Comment by Regina — April 19, 2012 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  6. This creed is not correct according to the ancient Church and St. John 15:26, it includes a “modern” innovation since it adds the Filioque clause; “proceeds from the Father and the son” An imbalance in confession of the Holy Trinity eventually led to an equal imbalance in the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the episcopate and a change in the nature of the faith Catholicism professed to confess. Eventually, in 1054, the Church declared its separation from this error.

    Comment by Fiona Maillis — July 31, 2012 @ 7:06 am | Reply

  7. I always and normally read the Nicene Creed with joy and passion as a typical born Catholic.

    I would be extremely glad to have the true French version of the Nicene Creed. This is because as a teacher of the French language, I strategically bring Christ to my pupils and students through the teaching of some personally incorporated Catholic prayers.

    By its very spritual potency, the Creed is a most powerful took to achieve the desired result of this intention of making God known to pupils and students of all ages, some of whom are non-Catholics, and for that matter, not Christians at all. I am a member of the Cathedral Choir at the Holy Spirit Cathedral, a Catholic Church located at Adabraka, Accra, Ghana. My e-mail address is

    Thank you very much indeed.

    Comment by Augustine OFORI-PRAH — August 28, 2012 @ 7:01 am | Reply

  8. Many thanks!

    Comment by Augustine OFORI-PRAH — January 11, 2013 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

  9. Hi, I’m a tenor singer in a choir who much prefers the older Morning Service (Book of Common Prayer?) with its Thees and Thous and Thine, and to sing the Creed along with John Merbecke’s beautiful music is IMHO truly inspirational and moving. Don’t like the modern service much, such as Appleton’s (?) slushy music and the said Creed – most of the congregation say “We believe in one God…” whereas I was brought up to say “I believe…”. And the modern Peace’, where everybody shakes hands – can’t stand it, I’m afraid. How can the Church of England replace such a beautiful older Morning Service with something so trite and bland? Sorry, just my old-fashioned opinion I know, and please forgive me if I have offended anyone. Just want my old service back – I listened to Merbecke’s Creed today on Youtube and burst into tears! If I can find a church in Leicestershire which offers the older service I’ll be there like a shot. God bless. Mick White

    Comment by Mick White — May 9, 2016 @ 5:45 am | Reply

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