As in title. 'Illuc sine Dei gratia vadam' doesn't seem quite right.

The phrase derives from 16th century reformer John Bradford's comment as he watched a group of prisoners being led to execution. The essence of the meaning is that it's all up to God what happens — and indeed he himself ended up being burned at the stake.

  • 1
    The English word “there” is ambiguous, it can mean illic or illuc. In this expression, I have always interpreted it to mean illic. The speaker points to a miscreant being led to the gallows; not to the gallows itself. Nov 8, 2020 at 23:39
  • Thanks! I edited the details into your question. You can always edit your own posts to polish them.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Nov 9, 2020 at 8:58

2 Answers 2


The English phrase was popularised by Foxe's Book of Martyrs, sp. John Bradford. The Latin is good, perhaps a little ponderous, except that 'sine' is probably a typo for 'sinon.'

"Huc et illuc," Hither and thither, used by Cicero. Illuc In that diection.

Sinon Dei gratia, If not for the Grace of God.

Vadam could be a future indicative "I shall be going;" but is probably present subjunctive, hypothetical, "I may be going."

The conjugation of vado is given at //latin.cactus2000.de
Google 'sinon Dei gratia' for several other examples of the phrase.

  • 1
    Indeed, the present subjunctive "I might go" was intended. I had proposed the preposition 'sine' = without. But 'sinon' as an adverb would be fine, although I have only come across it as two separate words. Nov 8, 2020 at 20:00
  • 1
    I would have thought that the verb should be imperfect subjunctive, because the statement is basically a contrafactual condition, isn't it? I it weren't for the grace of God, I would be going there too. Then again, I freely admit that I haven't a clue how contrafactual conditions are done in Ecclesiastical Latin.
    – cnread
    Nov 8, 2020 at 20:24
  • 2
    I'm pretty sure sine is correct here. I've never heard of sinon used in this way, and there is only one unique passage from an obscure Renaissance work that uses the phrase sinon Dei gratia. "Sine Dei gratia" (=without the grace of God) is a pretty straightforward translation of the English idiom "but for the grace of God," and it returns tons of results.
    – brianpck
    Aug 12, 2021 at 12:51

Or, as Sir Winston Churchill once said of his rival Sir Stafford Cripps, "There, but for the grace of God, goes God."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.