Noble Italian family with two branches: that of Verona-Rome and that of Volterra. The Verona-Rome branch was especially distinguished by its scholars.
Verona-Rome Branch. Three members of the Verona-Rome Maffei were important in the Canon Regulars of the lateran. Paolo, b. Verona; d. Venice, 1480, was superior in Padua and Venice and general of the order in 1425. Timoteo, b. c. 1400; d. Rome, 1470, was prior in Fiesole, general three times, and bishop of Ragusa. He traveled to many cities on preaching tours, was a most effective speaker, and taught others how to preach. His sermons exerted a wide influence on the laity of his day. Celso, b. Verona, c. 1425; d. Verona, 1508, nephew of Timoteo, was general of his order eight times. Besides writing, he collected manuscripts and books for monasteries.
In the 16th century there were three very able Maffei in Rome. Bernardino, b. Bergamo, 1514; d. Rome, 1553, one of the most learned men of his day, had charge of the education of the younger Cardinal Alessandro farnese, whose grandfather, Pope paul iii, appointed Bernardino bishop of Massa Marittima in 1547 and then of Chieti, creating him cardinal in 1549. Held in great esteem by the new pope, julius iii, Cardinal Maffei served as a member of two reforming commissions and as legate to Parma. When he died, his brother Marcantonio, b. Rome?, 1521; d. Rome?, 1583, succeeded him as bishop of Chieti and became its archbishop in 1566. Pope pius iv selected him to restore the churches of Rome. His ability was recognized also by Pope pius v, who put him in charge of the datary, which he administered well. The pope also appointed him a member of two commissions: one, to examine the quality and character of prospective bishops and abbots; another, to prepare written defenses against Lutheran teachings. He was created a cardinal in 1570. Giampietro, b. Bergamo, c. 1535; d. Tivoli, 1603, taught in Genoa, was secretary for the Republic of Genoa (1563–64), and then became a Jesuit. He lived in Portugal (1572–81), preparing a history of Jesuit missions in India (Florence 1588). His biography of ignatius of loyola was published in 1585. Pope clement viii valued these writings so much that he gave Giampietro rooms in the Vatican. His collected works were later published (Bergamo 1747).
Francesco Scipione, b. Verona, 1675; d. Verona, 1755, was a versatile author and scholar, most of his early writings being poems and plays. He visited contemporary poets in Milan, Genoa, and Rome (1698–99). His play Merope, first presented in 1713 and later translated into several languages, was an important production in the history of Italian tragedy. His comedies, however, were not successful. He then turned to history and other subjects. His four-volume Verona illustrata (Verona 1731–32) included information about his family, especially those members who were writers. In 1733 he went to France, where he stayed for more than three years, visiting England, Holland, Germany, and Austria before returning home in 1736. The theological discussions he heard in Paris led him to write about the early Church. In his travels he studied Roman remains, a subject that had interested him as early as 1711, when he arranged some ancient sculptures in Turin. He wrote a work on antiquities in France and another on ancient amphitheaters and founded the Museo Lapidario Maffeiano in Verona. His defense of taking interest on loans, his history of journals, and his analysis of the decline of the Venetian Republic are other examples of the wide range of his intellectual curiosity. His discovery and study of early medieval MSS in Verona led him to be one of the first to realize the essential unity of Latin writing and to recognize majuscule, minuscule, and cursive script (see paleog raphy, latin). His collected works were published in 21 volumes (Venice 1790). Honored at home and abroad, he was a member of academies in Berlin, Paris, and London and received a degree from Oxford.
Volterra Branch. The Volterra branch of the Maffei family included the scholar Raffaele, b. Volterra, 1451;d. Rome, 1522. Having spent some of his early years in Rome while his father taught at the university there, Raffaele returned to Volterra, where he wrote on the history of Rome and translated the Odyssey, the Koran, and the works of Xenophon into Latin. Paolo Alessandro, b. Volterra, 1653; d. Rome, 1716, published a biography of Pope Pius V in 1712.
Bibliography: f. vespasiano da bisticci, Vite di uomini illustri del secolo XV, ed. p. d'ancona and e. aeschlimann (Milan 1951) 152–153. Moroni 41:229–232. Pastor 17:82, 129, 168, 220. f. s. maffei, Opere drammatiche e poesie varie, ed. a. avena (Bari 1928); Epistolario, 1700–1755, ed. c. garibotto, 2 v. (Milan 1955). g. silvestri, Un europeo del settecento, Scipione Maffei (Treviso 1954). g. gasperoni, Scipione Maffei e Verona settecentesca (Verona 1955). f. l. cross The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 842. l. fiore et al., Enciclopedia cattolica 7:1811–13. a. posch, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 6:1267–69.
[m. l. shay]