Gian Domenico Mansi
(16 February 1692 – 27 September 1769) was an Italian theologian, scholar and historian, known for his massive works on the Church councils
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....
He was born at Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...
, of a patrician family, and died archbishop of that city. At the age of sixteen he entered the Congregation of Clerks Regular of the Mother of God and made his profession in 1710. Except for some journeys made for purposes of study, his whole life, until his appointment as Archbishop of Lucca (1765), was spent in his religious home.
In 1758, after a sojourn at Rome, where he had been received by Cardinal Passionei, there was question of elevating him to the Sacred College, but his collaboration in an annotated edition of the famous Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...
displeased Clement XIII. It should be remarked that the notes in this edition were intended to correct the text. Three years after his elevation to the episcopate he was smitten with an attack of apoplexy
Apoplexy is a medical term, which can be used to describe 'bleeding' in a stroke . Without further specification, it is rather outdated in use. Today it is used only for specific conditions, such as pituitary apoplexy and ovarian apoplexy. In common speech, it is used non-medically to mean a state...
which left him suffering, deprived of the power of motion, until his death.
His long career was filled chiefly with the re-editing of erudite ecclesiastical works with notes and complementary matter. His name appears on the title-pages of ninety folio volumes and numerous quartos. An indefatigable worker, widely read and thoroughly trained, his output was chiefly of a mechanical order, and unoriginal because hurried. His task was most often limited to inserting notes and documents in the work to be reproduced and sending the whole result to the printer, a process which resulted in numberless shortcomings.
The only work worth mentioning that is all Mansi's own is his Tractatus de casibus et censuris reservatis
, published in 1724, which brought him into difficulties with the Index Librorum Prohibitorum
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. A first version was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form was authorized at the Council of Trent...
. The rest are all annotated editions. In 1726 there was Jo. Burch. Menckenii De Charlataneria eruditorum declamationes duae cum notis variorum
; from 1725 to 1738, an annotated Latin translation of the three works of Dom Calmet—the Dictionnaire de la Bible
, Prolégomènes et Dissertations
, and Commentaire littéral
The best-known publication of Mansi is his vast edition of the Councils, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio
(31 vols., folio, Florence and Venice, 1758-98), which was stopped by lack of resources in the middle of the Council of Florence
The Council of Florence was an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It began in 1431 in Basel, Switzerland, and became known as the Council of Ferrara after its transfer to Ferrara was decreed by Pope Eugene IV, to convene in 1438...
of 1438. The absence of an index renders it inconvenient, and in a critical point of view it leaves an immensity to be desired. Mansi saw only fourteen volumes of it published, the others were finished from his notes.
In 1748 he began to publish the first volume of a collection which was presented as a supplement to that of Coleti; the sixth and last volume of it appeared in 1752. The collection has been reprinted: in Paris by H. Welter, (1901-1927); and in Graz by the Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt in 1960. The 1901 edition has been digitized by the University of Michigan Law Library.
Selected list of Mansi's editions and translations
- Augustin Calmet's 1720 dictionary as Dictionarium, Historicum, Criticum, Chronologicum, Geographicum, Biblicum, Latinis Litteris traditum a J. Dom. Mansi