Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Abecedaria

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Complete or partial lists of letters of the alphabet, chiefly Greek and Latin, inscribed on ancient monuments, Pagan and Christian. At, or near, the beginning of the Christian era, the Latin alphabet had already undergone its principal changes, and had become a fixed and definite system. The Greek alphabet, moreover, with certain slight modifications, was becoming closely assimilated to the Latin. Towards the eighth century of Rome, the letters assumed their artistic forms and lost their older, narrower ones. Nor have the three letters added by the Emperor Claudius ever been found in use in Christian inscriptions . The letters themselves, it may be said, fell into disuse at the death of the Emperor in question. The alphabet, however, employed for monumental inscriptions differed so completely from the cursive as to make it wholly impossible to mistake the one for the other. The uncial, occurring very rarely on sculptured monuments, and reserved for writing, did not make its appearance before the fourth century. The number of Christian objects bearing the Abecedaria, with the exception of two vases found at Carthage, is extremely limited. On the other hand, those of heathen origin are more plentiful, and include certain tablets used by stone-cutters apprentices while learning their trade. Stones have also been found in the catacombs, bearing the symbols A, B, C, etc. These are arranged, sometimes, in combinations which have puzzled the sagacity of scholars. One such, found in the cemetery of St. Alexander, in the Via Nomentana, is inscribed as follows:

AXBVCTESDR . . . . . .BCCEECHI
EQGPH. . . .M MNOPQ
RSTVXYZ

This represents, in all probability, a schoolboy's task, which may be compared with a denarius of L. Cassius Caecinianus, whereon the inscription runs thus:

AX, BV, CT, DS, ER, FQ, GP, HO, IN, KM

It is to St. Jerome that we owe an explanation of this curious trifle. He tells us that, in order to train the memory of young children, they were made to learn the alphabet in a double form, joining A to X, and so on with the other letters. A stone found at Rome in 1877, and dating from the sixth or seventh century, seems to have been used in a school, as a model for learning the alphabet, and, points, incidentally, to the long continuance of old methods of teaching. ( See CHRISTIAN USE OF THE ALPHABET.)


Shop Catholic - Buy One Get One 50% OFF

Mix and match any of these bestselling products and enjoy 50% off the second item!

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.


Act of Contrition PDF

Free Catholic Educational PDF Downloads and Resources

PDF educational resources for Students, Parents, and Teachers and it’s 100% FREE. How to Pray the Rosary, Hail Mary, Our Father, Saints, Prayers, Coloring Books, Novenas, Espanol and more. All FREE to download and faithful to the Magisterium. Download Now >

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.