CASSIANO DA MACERATA (Giovanni Beligatti)

CASSIANO DA MACERATA (lay Giovanni Beligatti). Macerata 1708 — Macerata 4.2.1791. Italian Missionary and a Pioneer of Indology, in India and Tibet in 1739-56. Son of Gaetano Beligatti and Margarita Compagnucci. In 1725 joined the Capuchin order in their monastery at his home-town Macerata. In 1738 he was selected with eight other monks and one lay brother to join the Lhasa mission (founded in 1697). They travelled first (by foot) to Paris to obtain a printing press for the mission and on 11.3.1739 sailed from Lorient and arrived safely in Chandernagore on 26.9., then up the Ganges to Patna (26.12.1739). In February 1840 to Nepal, where they remained at the Capuchin Hospital of Bhatgaon from 6.2. to 25.5. From 8.6. to 4.10. learning Urdu and Tibetan in Kathmandu. Only now he crossed the Himalayas and arrived on 6.1.1741 in Lhasa.

In Lhasa Cassiano worked as a physician with success and as a missionary without success. The permit for missionary work, given in 1741, was withdrawn in 1742. On 31.8.1742 —> Orazio Della Penna, the head of the mission, sent him and two other brothers back to Nepal, and in 1745 the work in Lhasa came to its final end. He worked further in Nepal, Bihar and Bengal until 1754, when an illness forced him to return. Back in Italy he settled down in his native Macerata as archivist of his order, but spent most of his time in Rome in literary work and teaching future missionaries to India. Several of his manuscripts have been found in the library of Macerata (Biblioteca communale Mozzi Borgetti di Macerata) in the 20th century.

Publications: Assisted A. Giorgi in his Alphabetum Tibetanum Missionum Apostolicum commodo editum. 94+820 p. Rome 1762.

Anonymously published: Alphabetum Brammhanicum seu Indostanum universitatis Kasi. 20+152 p. Romae 1771 (Devanāgarī, with Signum Crucis, Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Credo in Hindī); Alphabetum Tangutanum seu Tibetanum. 16+138 p. Romae 1773 (with the same and the Ten Commandments in Tibetan), both edited by Amaduzzi, who also wrote the prefaces.

Memorie istoriche delle virtù, viaggi e fatiche del Padre Giuseppe Maria Bernini da Garghano, viceprefetto delle missioni del Tibet, scritte a un amico dal P. C. da M. 32+278 p. Verona 1767 (wrongly ascribed to its editor, P. Silvio da Brescia).

Giornale di fra’ Cassiano da Macerata dalla sua partenza da Macerata seguita gli 17 agosto 1738 fino al suo ritorno nel 1756, diviso in due libri. Manuscript in Bibl. communale di Macerata 5.3.C.18; partially edited by A. Magnachi in 1902 and in full by L. Petech in 1953 (part 1, part 2 is lost).

Teologia dei Tibetani. Manuscript in Bibl. communale di Macerata 5.3.C.33. In fact deals with Hinduism.

Two lost manuscripts: Ristr. della vita si Sciakia [Śākya] legisl. del Tibet, and Tibetan (or Urdu?) translation of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Both were originally deposited to the Macerata Library, but have not been found there.

Sources: M. Milanesi, Diz. biogr. degli Italiani 21, 1978, 477f.; E. De Rossi Filibeck, “Il contributo di Cassiano Beligatti alla conoscenza del Tibet”, Le Marche e l’Oriente. Roma 1998, 261-272 (with further references); Italian Wikipedia as Cassiano Beligatti.

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