Deciphering the Reverend's gravestone

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Deciphering the Reverend's gravestone

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Sep 6, 2007, 6:57 pm

I'm studying an early Massachusetts cemetery that has one large tablestone for the town's first minister, and as was fitting for his learned calling, the inscription is in Latin. I can patch together a translation of bits of it, but have no confidence in the accuracy of the result. Anyone care to give it a try? The surface of the stone is a bit eroded, and so while the letters are fairly clear, the punctuation is not; and it's important to remember that the stone carver probably didn't know any Latin himself, and so the spelling may be irregular (as it is in nearby English stones, too). This is the text as I can make it out:

Sub hoc Tumulo / Reliquiae / Rev. Johannis Payson, A.M. / Jacent. / Olim Ecclesiae Fitchburgensis / Pastor. Qui die Maii XXIII / Anno Domini MDCCCIV / mortuus est / Anno Aetatis LIX / Annoque sui Sacerdoti XXXVI / Pra(e?)stantissimo Vir ingenio, / benevolentissimoque animo / scientia praeditus. mandatoque divino fidelis / studio exercitioque Theologiae / amico monito factisque charitatis datus. / potius quam contentioni inani / persecutionibusque avaritiae sordidis.

So it begins something like this:

Under this mound the remains of the Rev. John Payson lie. Once pastor of the Fitchburg church. Who died May 23, A.D. 1804 in the 59th year of his age and the 36th year of his pastorate...

Edited: Sep 9, 2007, 5:30 am

AM=Atrium Magister=Master of Arts

......36th year of his Priesthood. A man of exceptional ability and of a most benevolent spirit, endowed with learning, faithful to his divine mission, devoted to the study and practice of theology and to deeds of charity for the admonished friend rather than useless stife and the sordid pursuit of avrice.

Sep 8, 2007, 12:02 pm

Thank you! It makes you wonder if they had something in mind when they wrote about "pursuit of avarice" or "useless strife" (the minister in the next town, perhaps).

Sep 8, 2007, 3:00 pm

I am inclined to think that we should take it as at face value and see in no more than than the 3 usual qualities you would expect to find in a priest:
- dedication to his mission
- pursuit of the spiritual (ea quae supra sunt, as St. Paul puts it)
- promotion of holy concorde

Sep 8, 2007, 6:30 pm

What about "amico monito ... datus"? This seems to mean "devoted to instructing his friend", but in that case I would expect "monendo". I also don't understand why the "friend" should be singular, unless it's simply to avoid four consecutive words ending "-is".

Sep 9, 2007, 5:33 am

I think it goes with "factis charitatis datus": amico monito factis charitatis datus

devoted to deeds of charity to the chastened or admonished friend

Sep 9, 2007, 5:40 am

That's what I would have thought if not for the "-que" in "factisque charitatis". This seems to require taking "amico monito" in parallel with "factis charitatis".

Sep 9, 2007, 4:30 pm

datus also governs studio ?

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