Faà di Bruno, Francesco, Bl.

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Mathematician, scientist, inventor, composer, founder of the Sisters of Our Lady of Suffrage, and the Pious Works of Saint Zita, priest; b. March 29, 1825, Alessandria, Piedmont, northern Italy; d. March 27, 1888, Turin, Italy.

Francesco Faà di Bruno, the youngest of the 12 children of Marquis Louis Faà di Bruno, was a remarkable man of great talent and deep faith imbued from his infancy in the ancestral castle at Bruno. Following the death of his mother (1834), Carolina Sappa, Francesco studied at the Collegio San Giorgio di Novi Ligure until his entrance into the Royal Military Academy at Turin (1840). He completed his training, proved his valor in the War of Independence (1848), and rose to the rank of captainofstaff in the Sardinian Army (1849).

Faà di Bruno was assigned to Paris (1849), but resigned his commission (1853) to study at the Sorbonne under Augustin Louis Cauchy and Urbain Leverrier. There he also became aquainted with Abbé Moigno and Charles Hermite. Upon his return to Turin, he was a professor of mathematics at the university for the rest of his life. In recognition of his achievements as a mathematician, the degree of doctor of science was conferred on him by the Universities of Paris and Turin. In addition to some ascetical writings, the composition of some sacred melodies, and the invention of some scientific apparatuses, Faà di Bruno made numerous and important contributions to mathematics. In 1858, he published a series of seven articles on the religious and pedagogical function of music, as well as a small volume on the topic.

He joined the Saint Vincent de Paul Society (1850) with Cauchy and Adolphe Baudon, and later established a chapter in Turin (1853). Faà di Bruno founded the charitable Opera Pia Santa Zita in the San Donato district of Turin (Feb. 2, 1859) to aid house servants and ensure their right to participate in festival liturgies. The society was placed under the patronage of Saint Zita and had Saint John Bosco as its vice president. In addition to this major accomplishment, Faà di Bruno established Saint Joseph's Hospital for the sick and convalescent (1860), a home for aged priests (1862), classes for the vocational education of poor youth (1864), a women's branch of the Opera known as the Congregazione delle Suore Minime di Nostra Signora del Suffragio (1868), as well as other foundations.

He accomplished all the above as a dedicated layman. On Oct. 22, 1876, at age 51, he was ordained priest. The following month he opened the church he founded (Chiesa del Suffragio ) to the public (October 30) and celebrated his first Mass as Father Francesco (November 1). Not only was Blessed Francesco a prolific author in both science and music, but his life and works have generated a formidable number of scholarly studies.

Pope John Paul II praised Faà di Bruno on Sept. 25, 1988, for his ability "to find positive responses to the needs of his time" (beatification homily).

Bibliography: l. condio, Francesco Faà di Bruno (Turin 1932). Facoltà di Teologia dell'Ateneo Romano della Santa Croce, Il Beato Francesco Faà di Bruno e la donna (Rome 1991). Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose di Torino, Francesco Faà di Bruno e l'Eucaristia (Turin 1996). r. lanzavecchia, Francesco Faà di Bruno (Alessandria, Italy 1980). v. del mazza, Il Coraggio della Carità (Turin 1988). v. messori, Un italiano serio: il beato Francesco Faà di Bruno (Milan 1990); Ser Cristiano en un mundo hostil, tr. j. rouco and a. montero (Madrid 1997); Il beato Faà di BrunoUn cristiano in un mondo ostile (Milan 1998). p. palazzini, Francesco Faà di Bruno scienziato e prete (Rome 1980). Pontificia Università Lateranense, La Spiritualità di Francesco Faà di Bruno nell'esperienza francese (Rome 1983). p. risso, Un genio per Cristo: profilo biografico del beato Francesco Faà di Bruno (Padua 1992). c. trabucco, Francesco Faà di Bruno, pioniere dell'assistenza sociale (Rome 1957). Università degli Studi di TorinoFacoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Francesco Faà di Bruno e la musica (Turin 1992). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1988): 1092.

[k. i. rabenstein]