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I am trying to find the correct translation for, "humbly yours in Christ" to put at the end of a letter. Would the translation "humilitate tua in Christo" be somewhat close? I have just recently begun studying Latin. Thank you very much for your help.

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Though humilitas / humilis was mostly negative in classical Latin, it acquired its positive sense as a Christian virtue as early as the Vulgate (Matthew 11:29; James 4:6), Augustine (Confessions I.11) and certainly by the time of Aquinas (Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 161). This has a lot to do with the Christian emphasis on what Alasdair MacIntyre calls the "virtues of acknowledged dependence": whereas Aristotle only had the vice of pusillanimity, Aquinas acknowledges not only the vice but also the virtue of humility.

Another prefatory remark: the classical way of composing Latin letters (followed by authors as diverse as Cicero, Seneca, Petrarch, and Erasmus) is to name the sender and recipient at the beginning (e.g. "Seneca Lucilio suo salutem") and then to have a valediction at the end, often with the time and place. For more on this, see this question: Ending a letter in Latin. Nevertheless, there is also precedent for ending Latin letters in the way we are accustomed to.

A literal translation of your phrase is: humiliter tuus in Christo. I can't find any precedent for this, though, and I'm not sure if Latin shares this formula with English: it's strange for an adverb to modify a possessive pronoun.

I would suggest adding a noun, e.g. "servus" (=servant), for which I have found some precedent. You could thus close your letter with: humilis servus tuus in Christo [name]. This literally means, "Your humble servant in Christ." You could also substitute humillimus (="most humble").

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  • It is not strange to adverb to preceding a pronoun: it's just American English way. And this situation is rule for many other languages in such type of the letter-end cliché. – TrmIntrs2 Jun 26 at 15:05
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    Hmm, can you give me some examples? From my (limited) knowledge of letter-writing in other European languages, I can't think of an example of "adverb + yours." Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding your comment: if your point is that it's only common in English, then that's what I was intending to say! – brianpck Jun 26 at 16:33
  • @Josh: (Oxford); servus, i (m) = a slave; as an adjective: servus-a-um--having the status of a slave, servile. Is this what you want? – tony Jun 26 at 16:39
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    @tony Again, "servus" has a vastly different meaning in a Christian context. See, for instance, Romans 1:1, or the Pope's title: "servus servorum Dei" – brianpck Jun 26 at 16:52
  • @brianpck Ok. Look at here: British English - yours sincerely (pronoun+adverb), but American English (mostly) - sincerely yours (adverb+pronoun); Russian - iskrenne vash (adverb+pronoun); French - as cliché: bien à vous (dual treatment by me: or ajective+preposition 'to'+pronoun, so literally 'good for you', or adverb+(preposition-pronoun compound), so literally 'pleasantly yours'), as speech example: sincèrement à vous/vôtre - 'sincerely yours' (adverb+(preposition-pronoun compound)/adverb+pronoun). – TrmIntrs2 Jun 26 at 17:48
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The expression; "humilitate tua in Christo" means "with your humility in Christ", not quite what you have requested. A second problem is that "humilitas" is harsher, in Latin, than "humility" in English e.g. lowness; meanness; insignificance (Oxford).

A possible alternative: "minister tibi in Christo" = "a servant to you in Christ".

Here, "minister" is not so obsequious or humiliating as "humilitas"; besides "servant", "minister" = attendant; accomplice; agent.

Lewis & Short give more examples e.g. promoter; helper; an abettor; accomplice.

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  • Out of curiosity, why "tibi" instead of "tuus"? – brianpck Jun 26 at 16:35
  • @brianpck Since the verb servire is used with a dative, it makes sense to me to use the same case for the beneficiary of the corresponding noun. Perhaps I'm mislead by other languages, but I'd read a genitive or a possessive pronoun as ownership and a dative more as a favour. Tony, could you elaborate on this choice in your answer? – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 26 at 18:57
  • @brianpck & Joonas: The use of "tibi" seemed to be more personal (a servant to you) without being obsequious. I was unsure about the grammatical acceptability of this, and was anticipating a challenge. As for "servus" the thinking was that, in Rome, the servants and the slaves might have been one-and-the-same species, hence the Oxford definition. As you have indicated, "servus" would have evolved, with time. I liked the work you did (2016) in finding examples (Vulgate) of sentences which included pairs of perfect subjunctives. Great! – tony Jun 27 at 8:51
  • @Joonas llmavirta: Please see comment to brianpck, above. – tony Jun 27 at 8:52
  • @brianpck: I forgot to reference the Q: latin.stackexchange.com/q/1179/1982 which included the Vulgate examples. – tony Jun 27 at 11:23
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There was a greeting to a noble men in the former Austria-Hungary Empire: sounded like 'servus humillimus' (now clipped just to a 'servus' in some languages, which natives were citizens of the empire). Maybe it's possible to re-phrase expression in such way. Not adverb, but compound to modify pronoun. It sounds less pejoratively.

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@Josh When I was answering to @brianpck, there was example from French. And I did give advice to use calque from this language - 'sincērē vostrī in JC'. But there is an another possible variant: 'sincērē vestrum (in JS)'.

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