Inscriptions With a Special Meaning
“IEHOVA SIT TIBI CUSTOS”
THESE words inscribed on the front wall of a 17th-century house in Celerina, eastern Switzerland, mean “Jehovah be your protector.” In this mountainous area, it is not uncommon to find God’s name etched or painted on centuries-old houses, churches, and rectories. How did the name Jehovah become so well-known?
Ancient Rhaetia (comprising parts of what are now southeastern Germany, Austria, and eastern Switzerland) became a Roman province in 15 B.C.E. The inhabitants came to speak Romansh, a Latin-based language that developed into several dialects that are still spoken in some of the Alpine valleys of Switzerland and northern Italy.
In time, portions of the Bible were translated into Romansh. One edition, the Biblia Pitschna, contained the Psalms and the Christian Greek Scriptures. In this Bible, published in 1666, the name Iehova appeared many times throughout the Psalms. Since the Bible was the primary reading material in the home, readers of the Biblia Pitschna became familiar with the name of the Creator.
However, succeeding generations lost interest in Biblical matters. Many did not bother to inquire what the word “Iehova” meant, nor did the clergy make any effort to explain it. Hence, these inscriptions became mere decorations characteristic of a bygone era.
In recent decades a remarkable reeducation has been taking place. Jehovah’s Witnesses have come up from the lowlands, spending vacations in these beautiful valleys and making it a point to teach the residents about the God whose name is Jehovah. Some Witnesses have even settled in the area so that they can spend more time telling people about the Creator’s marvelous purposes for the earth and for man. Thus, these archaic Romansh inscriptions are taking on new meaning as people learn about the true God, Jehovah.
[Pictures on page 32]
IEHOVA PORTIO MEA: Jehovah is my share.—See Psalm 119:57