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Mai, Angelo


Cardinal and paleographer; b. Schilpario, Italy, March 7, 1782; d. Castelgandolfo, September 9, 1854. He became a Jesuit in 1799 and taught at Naples from 1804 until the anti-Jesuit policy of Joseph Napoleon forced him to Rome and then to Orvieto, where he was ordained in 1808. As scriptor of the Ambrosian Library in Milan in 1813, he discovered numerous texts of lost works of Cicero, Fronto, Homer, Plautus, and others. In visits to other European libraries he discovered more lost works. He left the Jesuits in 1819 to become the first Vatican librarian and in 1838 was made a cardinal. In all, he discovered 359 lost texts of ancient pagan and Christian authors, for the most part published in his four collections: the Scriptorum veterum nova collectio (10 v., 182538); Classici auctores (10 v., 182838); Spicilegium Romanum (10 v., 183944); and the Nova patrum bibliotheca (8 v., 185257). He arranged and catalogued MSS of the Vatican Library. Unfortunately, owing to imperfect methods of restoring palimpsest texts, some MSS were damaged in his work.

Bibliography: a. mai, Epistolario, ed. g. gervasoni (Florence 1954). g. poletto, Del cardinale Angelo Mai (Siena 1886). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 10.1:11961202. s. timpanaro, "Angelo Mai," Atene e Rome NS 1 (1956) 334. v. vietti, a. mercati and a. pelzer Dizionario ecclesiastico 2:781782.

[f. x. murphy]

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