"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

September 30, 2011

Limericks and humor at Vatican II

Filed under: Vatican II — komonchak @ 8:01 pm

It was not all work and no play at the Second Vatican Council. While speeches, momentous, portentous, and dull were being delivered in very differently accented Latin, a few bishops kept themselves awake by composing limericks, that distinctively English literary genre. Below I have gathered as many of these as I could find in a variety of sources. They vary considerably in quality, and sometimes one needs to know the incidents that prompted them to appreciate them; but still they may be of general interest. I have added two pages on various attempts at humor during the Council. To entice you in, here is a limerick about four major figures at the Council; I’ve seen it in four or five different versions, including one in Latin.

Of Congar and Rahner and Küng
The praises are everywhere süng.
But Ottaviani
One fine domani
Will see that they’re properly hüng.

Limericks and humor



  1. While not a limerick, there was an Italian verse circulating in traditional circles, which literally translated says:

    Popes die, councils adjourn,
    but the Roman Curia remains.

    A poetic translation renders it with the following doggerel verse:

    The popes and councils pass away,
    but the Roman Curia will always stay.

    Comment by Warren Memlib — October 5, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  2. Using my original title line of “Vatican II humor. Warning: OBSCURE”, I forwarded a link to this very unusual source of jokes to several people I know who helped enact Vatican II edicts at the local parish level. This list included my parents, who during my childhood hosted many Vatican II committee meetings at our house involving priests and parishioners. I know mom will pass it along, so you’ll get some circulation out there among those who can appreciate this stuff. It has got to be the most unique repertoire of humor I’ve ever seen in my life — a pleasant surprise. I am duly impressed with the effort to document these items after the fact. Certainly it lends credence to the familiar line that God, indeed, has a sense of humor.

    Comment by WP — October 6, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

  3. For some reason I am having difficulty blogging here and at Commonweal so I will simply reply to you that say yes to God’s Word and do the will of His Father, simultaneously. this is a wonderful blog, Father. Perhaps someday it won’t be so difficult for me to correspond with you.

    Comment by Nancy — October 10, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

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