Lacunza y Díaz, Manuel de

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Chilean theologian and Scripture scholar; b. Santiago, Chile, July 19, 1731; d. Imola, Italy, July 18, 1801. On Sept. 7, 1747, he entered the Society of Jesus and in 1755, he was ordained. On the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain and its colonies in 1767, he went to Italy, where he led a retired life dedicated to meditation and study. This resulted in a book that later became famous, Venida del mesías en gloria y majestad, finished in 1790. It circulated in manuscript form before it was published in Cádiz, Spain, in 1812. It was later published in London, Mexico, Paris, and elsewhere, and translated into various languages. Lacunza used the pseudonym Juan Josafat Ben Ezra. The book had, even among the Jesuits, fervent admirers as well as strong opponents. It was finally banned by the Holy Office on Sept. 6, 1824, and again on July 11, 1941, this time with specific reference to the book's moderate millenarianism. This was considered a fatal blow to the book among Catholics, although many of them, like Menéndez Pelayo, believed before 1941 that the condemnation did not refer to millenarianism per se but rather to statements against the Roman Curia or statements offensive to the Fathers of the Church or in praise of Judaism. Among Protestants the book has become a symbol for some adventist sects. Lacunza's good faith and proper intentions cannot be doubted, although his mental health is questionable. His great reputation in Chile is based upon the depth of his thought, expressed in a polished style.

Bibliography: a. f. vaucher, Une Célébrité oubliée: Le padre Manuel de Lacunza y Díaz (Collonges-sous-Salève, Switzerland 1941). f. mateos, "El padre Manuel de Lacunza y el milenarismo," Revista chilena de historia y geografía 115 (1950) 134161.

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