SEBASTIANI, Leopoldo. Rome 1770 — Rome 5.9.1843. Italian Missionary. Son of Vincenzo S. Worked as sub-librarian in Vatican before taking missionary career, working for Propaganda Fide. Before 1821 he had spent ten years in Turkey and, after a brief sejour in Rome, five in Persia and Afghanistan (1803-1808) and five in India (1808-13), in Bombay and Bengal. He was anglophile and had good relations with British in Persia and India, where he lived with the help of a government grant. He intended to return to Persia, but visited first South-East Asia. Arriving at Basra he heard that another had been nominated Apostolic Vicar for Persia and went to Constantinople and late in 1815 to Rome. He was seriously censured for his unauthorized Gospel translation and was not given any new appointment. In 1816 visited London. Last year lived in retirement in Rome preparing his history and other works. He knew well Arabic and Persian.
Publications: Storia universale dell’Indostan, dall’anno 1500 avanti G.C. – epoca la più remota della sua memoria – in fino all’anno 1819 dell’era nostra. 6+430 p. Rome 1821.
– Persian translation of Gospels. Calcutta 1811 (directly from Greek text, published without Catholic imprimatur and author’s name), also new Latin translation of the whole New Testament publ. in London 1817.
– Edited some Greek works and wrote on Biblical and ethical themes.
Sources: G. Fora in La conoscenza dell’ Asia 1, 1984, 36f.; T. O. Flynn, The Western Christian Presence in the Russias and Qājār Persia, c.1760–c.1870. 45ff. (detailed account of his travels); *A. M. Piemontese, Bullettino dell’Ist. Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo 3, 2009.
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