Zaccaria, Francesco Antonio

views updated


Jesuit theologian, historian, and prolific writer; b. Venice, March 27, 1714; d. Rome, Oct. 10, 1795. His father, Tancred, a noted jurist, and his mother, Teresa Ferretti, a distinguished and pious Venetian, gave him, their only son, a thorough Christian education under the tutelage of the Society of Jesus. He entered the Austrian province of that order on Oct. 18, 1731, and soon proved to be so accomplished in Latin and Greek that he was chosen to teach grammar, the humanities, and rhetoric in the College of Gorizia, where he remained until the end of 1738, when he was sent to Rome for his theological studies. He was ordained in Rome in 1740. In 1742 he began a correspondence with some of the leading literary figures of his time, even proposing to Cardinal Angelo Maria Querini a critical evaluation of the latter's Life of Pius II. In 1742 he was appointed prefect of the library of the Roman College, much to the dismay of Querini, who thought him better suited for the pursuit of higher studies in history. In the same year he began to preach in the Diocese of Fermio, a work he continued for 30 years throughout northern and central Italy. His eloquence as a preacher and controversial lecturer gained him great renown.

In 1751 he was transferred from the Austrian to the Roman province of his order, where upon the recommendation of Querini he was appointed archivist and librarian for Francis III, Duke of Modena. He succeeded Muratori, who died in 1750. This appointment won the approval of many of the intellectuals of his day, both in Italy and elsewhere, with the exception, however, of the Febronians and Jansenists. The duke ignored their calumnies and retained him for several years. With his publication of Antifebronio in 1767, however, the powerful antipapists persuaded the duke to ask the superior general of the society, Lorenzo Ricci, to recall him to Rome under the pretext of entrusting to him the reorganization of the library of the Gesù in Rome and of continuing the work of the library of the writers of his own order. Clement XIII granted him a pension as a recompense for his work in defense of the papacy. After the suppression of the society in 1773, the pension was stopped and his manuscripts were confiscated. For a time he was imprisoned in Castel Sant' Angelo, where he endured considerable suffering. Pius VI, who had always held him in high esteem and often consulted him, restored his pension and appointed him professor of church history at the Sapienza and director of the Accademia de' Nobili Ecclesiastici.

Zaccaria was one of the most erudite and prolific writers of his time. Sommervogel enumerates 161 of his publications, not to mention the great number of his works that remained in manuscript form.

Bibliography: l. cuccagni, Elogio storico dell' abate Francescantonio Zaccaria (Rome 1796). c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 v. (BrusselsParis 18901932; v. 12, suppl. 1960) 8:13811435. h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae, 5 v. in 6 (3d ed. Innsbruck 190313); v. 1 (4th ed. 1926) 5.1:484498. j. p. grausem, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 15:364548.

[l. l. gooley]