The traditional Latin prayer, 'Angel of God', goes like this:

Ángele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me, tibi commissum pietáte supérna,
hodie illúmina, custódi, rege et gubérna.

English translations abound, but I would like some help with mechanics of translating the parenthetical, "tibi commissum pietáte supérna".

  1. "Tibi" is obviously the dative of "tu", which we would translate "to you" or "for you" depending upon context.

  2. "Commissum", according to wiktionary, is either a supine verb, or a participle. If it is a participle, it is either nominative, accusative, or vocative. Here is where I am most confused.

  3. "Pietate", according to wiktionary, must be ablative singular, which we would translate "[from/with/in/by] love/devotion".

  4. "Superna", if it is linked to "pietate", must be an ablative singular adjective: "celestial" or "heavenly".

These four words are just a little too fuzzy for me at my level for me to assemble them into a single thought. I would appreciate some expert help!

1 Answer 1


I'm not familiar with the prayer, but looking at the text you posted, I would take this phrase as modifying : literally, "[me, who is] committed to thee by heavenly love".

Commissum is a masculine singular accusative perfect passive participle, "committed": it might also be neuter from its form, but given its proximity to , masculine is more likely. And if it's masculine, it has to be accusative. (The neuter nominative, accusative, and vocative all look like the masculine accusative here.)

Since it's a passive participle, the ablative (which you have correctly identified) is the agent or means of the action. And tibi, in the dative, is the target of that action.

So a rough translation of the entire prayer would be "Angel of God, who art my guardian, shine light on me today, I who am committed to thee by heavenly love, protect me, rule me, and govern me. Amen." It's difficult because English doesn't really like modifying "me" with full phrases; as you can see, I had to use the nominative "I" to make the English work. I also had to insert that phrase into the middle of the next line, since English really doesn't like putting an accusative at the start of a phrase.

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.