Pitra, Jean Baptiste


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(1812–89), patristic scholar. He was ordained priest in 1836, and his reputation as an archaeologist was soon established by his decipherment (1839) of the ‘Inscription of Autun’, a (probably 3rd-cent.) grave-inscription. In 1843 he was professed as a Benedictine at Solesmes, and for a short time he gave valuable co-operation to J. P. Migne in the editing of his Patrologiae. He then travelled widely in search of MSS, in 1858 at the behest of Pius IX visiting several Russian libraries. His knowledge of many branches of patristic and Byzantine literature was unrivalled. Having been created cardinal in 1863, in 1869 he was appointed Librarian of the Vatican, in which capacity Leo XIII employed him to catalogue the Palatine Greek codices in the library. His publications include Spicilegium Solesmense (4 vols., 1852–8) and Analecta Sacra (8 vols., 1876–91), both containing many previously unpublished patristic texts, and an important collection of canonical material, Iuris Ecclesiastici Graecorum Historia et Monumenta (2 vols., 1864–8).

From The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.

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