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Stories For A Century

Sine Cera... Without Wax

Bruce Ream ‘65

The theme of John Bigelow's commencement address to the Class of 1965 was the story behind the root words of “sincere.”  Being a Latin teacher, Mr. John took the position that the root words are “sine cera,” meaning “without wax.”  I recall that the speech was really about what I took to be the focus of my education at Rectory, which was character building.

As the story goes, the marble buyers in ancient Rome would go to the quarries to examine the marble and grade it by running their thumbs up along the cut. The less than sincere marble sales people would fill in the imperfections with wax. It would look like a perfect piece of marble, but it wasn't perfect. The best marble became known as “sine cera,” without wax.

Mr. John was trying to get us all to accept that same kind of honesty as the foundation of our endeavors for the future. When Mr. John spoke, he had that incredible quality of making me feel certain he was speaking to me. It was a story for me, about me, and directed towards me even though I was one of many boys in the room.

This was his final advice to me at school. He continued to give me advice all my life, up until just before he died. To say that that speech changed my life would be right, and I kept that alive by naming my business, Sine Cera, and by always maintaining an interest in Latin and words and being sincere.

This memory appeared in the John B. Bigelow Commemorative Magazine, January 2000.

  • 1960s

Campus Location:

Deal House

Contact Information:

Lisa Levesque, Centennial Coordinator

Rectory School Centennial
528 Pomfret Street
P.O. Box 68
Pomfret, CT 06258