Gilij, Filippo Salvatore

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Italian Jesuit missionary and ethnographer of the Orinoco region; b. Legona (Norcia), Italy, July 26, 1721;d. Rome, 1789. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1740 and went to the New Kingdom of Granada (today Colombia) in 1743. He was a missionary in the Orinoco area from the time of his ordination (1748) until the Jesuit expulsion in 1767; he then returned to Italy and lived in Rome until his death. While in Orinoco he saw much of the famous Father Gumilla; in Italy he collaborated with Hervas and Panduro; and Humboldt frequently appealed to his authority. His Saggio di Storia Americana (4 v. Rome 178084) made him famous. The first three volumes concern the Orinoco: religious and civil history, inhabitants and customs, religion and language; volume four is about Tierra Firme, and is a fundamental source for the history of Colombia. Saggio became a source of Americanist information in Europe, but was almost unknown to Americans until 1947. In 1782 Veigl translated into German the linguistic section; volume four was translated into Spanish by Mario Germán Romero and Carlos Buscantini (Bogotá 1955).

Bibliography: j. a. salazar orsa, "El padre Gilij y su Ensayo de historia americana," Missionalia Hispanica 4 (1947) 249328. g. giraldo jaramillo, Estudios históricos (Bogotá1954).

[j. a. salazar orsa]