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Francis Britius

Orientalist, Capuchin missionary (seventeenth century)

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Britius, FRANCIS, Orientalist, a monk of Rennes, in Brittany, date of birth and death unknown. He entered the Capuchin Order and spent the earlier years of his religious life in missionary work in the Levant, where he devoted himself with special zeal to the study of Oriental languages. His proficiency in these tongues soon came to the notice of his superiors, and, being summoned to Rome, he was employed by the Congregation of the Propaganda in the translation of several important works into Arabic. The first great fruit of his labors in this field was the translation of “L’Abrege des annales ecclesiastiques de Baronius”, continued by Sponde to the year 1646. The work was published at Rome in three volumes quarto, the first of which appeared in 1653, the second in 1655, and the third in 1671. Britius had also much to do with a translation of the Bible into Arabic, giving the Vulgate text in parallel columns, which was published by Mazari, at Rome, in 1671 (3 vols. fol.).

The works of Britius are now exceedingly rare, as practically the entire edition of both translations was sent to the East for use in the work of the missions.

J. J. GEOGHAN


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