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Francesco Bianchini

Student of natural sciences, historian (1662-1729)

Bianchini, FRANCESCO, a student of the natural sciences, and an historian, b. at Verona, Northern Italy, December 13, 1662; d. at Rome, March 2, 1729. At first he devoted himself to the study of mathematics, physics, and astronomy; later he also took a course in theology. In 1699 he was advanced to deaconship, but never became a priest. In 1684 he transferred his residence to Rome, where he found at once a protector in Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, of whose library he became custodian. When the cardinal became Pope Alexander VIII (1689-91) he still extended his favors to Bianchini; after Alexander’s death, his nephew, also Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, lodged the scholar in his own palace. Bianchini received also many honors and commissions of trust from succeeding popes. In 1703 he was elected president of the society devoted to the study of historical antiquities; he was made secretary of the commission for the reform of the calendar and he was sent to Paris with the cardinal’s hat destined for Rohan Soubise. During this journey he was received everywhere with consideration by the learned. The University of Oxford furnished the expenses of his sojourn in England. Benedict XIII (1724-30) appointed him historiographer of the synod held at the Lateran, Rome (1725). He was a member of many learned academies in Italy and elsewhere. He was distinguished for “a great purity of life and an exceeding modesty of mind”, as the canons of St. Mary Major expressed it in his epitaph. His chief works are: “Two Dissertations on the Calendar and the Cycle of Julius Cesar, and the Paschal Canon of St. Hippolytus” (Rome, 1703); “A Solution of the Paschal Problem” (Rome, 1703); one volume of “A Universal History” (Rome, 1697); an edition of the “Liber Pontificalis” in four volumes, three of which were edited by himself (Rome, 1718-28), and the fourth by his nephew, Giuseppe Bianchini (Rome, 1735). Besides the text of the lives of the popes the work contains learned introductions, various readings of the manuscripts, copious notes by himself and others, and several documents relative to the history of the popes. It was republished in Migne, P.L., CXXVII—CXXVIII.

FRANCIS J. SCHAEFER


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