Pitra, Jean Baptiste

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Benedictine scholar and cardinal bishop; b. Champforgueil, France, Aug. 1, 1812; d. Rome, Feb. 9, 1889. After being ordained in 1836, he taught history and rhetoric at the seminary of Autun, where in 1839 he published a study of the third-century epitaph of pectorius. In 1841 he joined the Benedictines at solesmes under Abbot P. guÉranger. While prior of the new monastery of saint-germain-des-prÉs in Paris in 1843, he drew up the list of authors and their complete editions for migne's Greek and Latin patrologies. From 1845 to 1850 he engaged in scholarly research while traveling in search of funds to restore Solesmes. His Spicilegium Solesmense (4v. 185258; Graz 1963) contains texts discovered by him. He was called to Rome in 1858 to study the law of the Eastern Church, and during a profitable journey studying manuscripts in Austria and Russia (185960) he came to the conclusion that relations between the Greek and Roman churches had been close until the time of photius. After he was made a cardinal in 1861, he published the Juris ecclesiastici Graecorum historia et monumenta (2 v. 186468). In 1863 he discovered the secret of Greek hymnography and published Hymnographie de l'Église grecque in 1867. After Vatican Council I, he returned to his publications in Analecta sacra spicilegio Solesmensi parata (8 v. 187683). In 1869 he was appointed Vatican librarian. He became bishop of Frascati in 1879 and bishop of Porto and St. Rufina in 1884. He made contributions to the history of ancient Christian literature that are still of value, but his works have not received the attention they deserve. He died alone at his work and poor, as he had lived; he left many notes that have not been studied.

Bibliography: f. cabrol, Histoire du Cardinal Pitra (Paris 1893). p. sÉjournÉ, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 12.2:223845. u. engelmann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 8:527. a. battandier, Le Cardinal J.-B. Pitra (Paris 1896).

[f. x. murphy]