The picture below shows a statue with inscription in Latin. The statue is situated in Malbork Castle, Poland.

a wooden statue

I can read Bethlehem, and Google Translate tells me that in millibus means "in thousands". However, not knowing Latin, I can't decipher the script well enough to make out the words directly before and after the word "Bethlehem".

Please could you spell out the whole transcription in Latin for me and also provide a translation into English?

1 Answer 1


I think the inscription says:

Tu Bethlehem parvulus es in millibus

It is an adaptation of Micah 5:2 and can be translated (by comparison to the original verse) as:

You Bethlehem are small among the clans

More literally in millibus or in milibus would indeed be "in thousands", but I think it is best to translate it analogously to the passage in the Bible as that appears to be the most likely meaning here. It is common for Latin phrases to be so terse that translation without context is often misguided and misleading.

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    The statue is damaged and the picture doesn't give too much detail, but the person could be Micah himself, or Saint Matthew the Apostle (his gospel cites the passage from Micah)
    – Rafael
    Dec 30, 2020 at 18:53
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    @Rafael Interesting ambiguity. The hand indicates someone from the NT, but I'd expect substantially more symbolism for Matthew (book, money bag, etc.). Dec 30, 2020 at 22:05
  • @chrylis-cautiouslyoptimistic- That sounds like good material for a follow-up question, but probably not on this site.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Dec 30, 2020 at 22:14
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    @chrylis-cautiouslyoptimistic- I'm not convinced either, but it could as well be part of a bigger set where the four evangelists are pictured as the four creatures from the Apocalypse (man, lion, ox, eagle)
    – Rafael
    Dec 31, 2020 at 0:30

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