Quo vadis?

Quō vādis? (Classical Latin: [kʷoː ˈwaːdɪs], Ecclesiastical Latin: [kwo ˈvadis]) is a Latin phrase meaning "Where are you marching?". It is also commonly translated as "Where are you going?" or, poetically, "Whither goest thou?".

The phrase originates from the Christian tradition regarding Saint Peter's first words to the risen Christ during their encounter along the Appian Way. According to the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV),[1] as Peter flees from crucifixion in Rome at the hands of the government, and along the road outside the city, he meets the risen Jesus. In the Latin translation, Peter asks Jesus, "Quō vādis?" He replies, "Rōmam eō iterum crucifīgī" ("I am going to Rome to be crucified again"). Peter then gains the courage to continue his ministry and returns to the city, where he is martyred by being crucified upside-down.[2] The Church of Domine Quo Vadis in Rome is built where the meeting between Peter and Jesus allegedly took place. The words "quo vadis" as a question also occur at least seven times in the Latin Vulgate.[3]

In cultureEdit

The Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote the novel Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero (1895–96), which in turn has been made into motion pictures several times, including a 1951 version that was nominated for eight Academy Awards.[4] For this and other novels, Sienkiewicz received the 1905 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In a season four episode of M*A*S*H entitled "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?" the reference pertains to Jesus Christ. A shellshocked officer arrives at the Hospital believing he is the Christ. He has numerous conversations with the characters, including Father Mulcahy. He ultimately leaves the MASH unit for an evacuation hospital, still unrecovered.

In Perelandra, the second book in the Space Trilogy of C. S. Lewis, the protagonist Ransom arrives at the planet of Perelandra, or Venus. He finds that it has its own Garden of Eden with a green-skinned Adam and Eve couple. The demonically-possessed Professor Weston has arrived to tempt the Venusian Eve into sin and re-enact The Fall of Man. A Divine Voice speaks to Ransom and tells him that he must fight the Tempter and kill him with his bare hands. At Ransom being reluctant to take up this mission, God tells him that if The Fall of Man is indeed re-enacted, God Himself would have to eventually redeem Perelandra "by a second crucifixion, or a sacrifice even more appalling". As with St. Peter, Ransom is encouraged into undertaking his hard task with no further qualms.


  1. ^ The Acts of Peter, by M. R. James
  2. ^ "saint-peter-on-the-appian-way". www.nationalgallery.org.uk.
  3. ^ Gen 16:8, 32:17; Iud 19:17; Iudith 10:11; Io 13:36, 14:5, 16:5; also, Ionas 1:8 Zacharias 2:2.
  4. ^ "Academy Awards Database - AMPAS". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 2016-09-02.

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