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Vatican Radio’s new digital archive will made available to the public audio recordings featuring the voices of popes from as far back as 1884.

The online collection consists of more than 8,000 recordings from Vatican Radio’s pontifical archives.

It will take place in conjunction with the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII (1958-1963) on April 27.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the archive would help to preserve the recordings.

Vatican Radio’s online collection consists of more than 8,000 recordings from its pontifical archives

Vatican Radio’s online collection consists of more than 8,000 recordings from its pontifical archives

“This way, the popes remain among us thanks to their voices,” he said.

Vatican Radio has been gathering recordings since it was set up under Pope Pius XI in 1931.

However, it also has older recordings such as Pope Leo XIII’s Humanum Genus encyclical which the pontiff recorded on a Dictaphone in 1884.

The archive, entitled Voices of the Popes, captures historic moments such as Pope Pius XII’s appeal in August 1939 on the eve of World War Two, saying: “The danger is imminent but there is still time. Nothing is lost with peace, all can be lost with war.”

There is also Pope John XXIII’s impromptu 1962 Speech to the Moon in St Peter’s Square where he told the gathered crowd: “When you head home, find your children. Hug and kiss your children and tell them <<This is the hug and kiss of the Pope>>.”

The archive also includes Pope Paul VI’s heart-felt words following the kidnap and murder of Italian PM Aldo Moro in May 1978 and Pope John Paul II’s emotionally charged attack in 1993 on the Mafia’s “culture of death” following a spate of high-profile killings.

From more recent times is last year’s resignation speech by Pope Benedict XVI where he said he “will simply be a pilgrim starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this Earth”.

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Pope Benedict XVI has approved the launch of a new Latin language college in the Vatican.

The Pontifical Academy for Latin will promote the knowledge and study of the language from classical times to the present day, said the Vatican.

Pope Benedict said the Church was the “guardian and promoter” of Latin and that a good understanding of it was more important than ever.

The Church officially abandoned the use of Latin in Masses in the 1960s.

But Pope Benedict has taken steps to make it easier for priests to say Mass in Latin, rather than their local language, if their more traditionalist congregations demand it.

Issuing his decree, he said that since the early days of Christianity, the Church had made Latin “her own language”, and that it was still held in high regard.

A good understanding of it was more important than ever, Vatican Radio quoted him as saying, but having only a “superficial” knowledge of it could be detrimental to the philosophical and theological training of future priests.

The Pope said the academy – which would also have an online presence – would also address a renewed interest in Latin and classical culture worldwide.

“Such interest is all the more significant because it involves not only the academic world, but also young people and scholars from very diverse nations and traditions,” he said.