Orientalist; b. Polignano a Mare, Italy, May 7, 1835;d. Rome, Feb. 6, 1902. His baptismal name was Pasquale; he received the name Agostino when he entered the Order of St. Augustine in 1856. He made his religions profession in March 1857 and was ordained in 1858. Ciasca was outstanding for his proficiency in Oriental languages, especially Arabic and Coptic. In 1866 he obtained the chair of Hebrew in the College of Propaganda. He assisted at the vatican council i as a theologian and as interpreter for the Oriental bishops. In 1879 he participated in a pontifical mission to Egypt and Syria. He examined and corrected the Syrian Breviary and acquired many important MSS, mostly Christian Arabic. In 1891 he was created titular archbishop of Larissa with the appointment to the office of prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives. He presided at the Ruthenian Synod of Lemburg in 1891. In 1892 he was named prosecretary and later secretary (1893) of the Congregation of the Propaganda, during which time he helped organize some Catholic missions to the Congo. He was elevated to the cardinalate June 19, 1899.
Among his scholarly contributions may be mentioned Examen critico-apologeticum super constitutionem dogmaticam de Fide Catholica editam in sessione tertia SS. Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani (1872), I papiri Copti del Museo Borgiano della S.C. de Propaganda Fide tradotti e commentati (1881), his publication of a very ancient Coptic version of the OT "Sacrorum Bibliorum Fragmenta Copto-Sahidica Musei Borgiani" (2 v. 1885–89), and his discovery and publication (1888) of a valuable Arabic version of the diatessaron of tatian.
Bibliography: d. a. perini, Studio Bio-bibliografico sul Cardinale Agostino Ciasca (Rome 1903); Bibliographia Augustiniana (Florence 1929–38) 1:229–231. a. palmieri, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 1903–50) 2.2:2472–73. g. hoffman, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 2:1201.
[b. a. lazor]