Francis Dominic Bencini
|Francis Dominic Bencini|
Francis Dominic Bencini (1664–1744) was a minor Maltese philosopher who specialised in apologetics.
Thereafter, he immediately began teaching dogmatic theology at the Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide, in Rome, Italy. While there, he was also installed as librarian of Propaganda Fide, and chosen as secretary to the pontifical councils. He dedicated much of his intellectual energies to the anti-reformist polemic which was in full swing during his times.
After many years working hard in Rome, Bencini expected to be awarded for his efforts. However, no official recognition was forthcoming, and this left him quite embittered. Sick of waiting, he thus left Rome and went to Turin, in northern Italy. There, at least, he was made professor at the University of Turin. He mainly taught theology and Holy Scripture. He seems to have been glad at his new place of adoption. For, from his personal financial resources, he paid for the establishment of a Chair of Apologetics, and also established a Catholic school of catechism.
Bencini probably died in Turin. No portrait of him is known to exist so far.
All of Bencini’s manuscripts are still held at the University of Turin. With the exception of the few which Bencini himself published during his lifetime, none of the other manuscripts have ever been set to print. Most of these works deal with themes related to Christian and, in particular, Catholic, apologetics.
Amongst those published, his most interesting one (at least from a philosophical point of view) is Philosophia Tabulis Exposita, issued in 1703. This is a work in Latin, and published in Rome. It carries the sub-title: Varia antiquorum, recentiorumque Philosophorum Placita exhibens, ac perpetius commentarijs illustrata (Illustrations of various known philosophies of ancient and recent times, with each illustration commented).
The book opens with a dedication to an adolescent boy called Alessandro Albani, the nephew of Pope Clement XI Albani (to whom the book is dedicated). This is followed by a description of the work, some general information about the illustrations produced, the commemorative reason for publishing the work, and finally the method used for the exposition of the illustrations.
The main part of the book contains the illustrations. These are divided into three sections. The first deals with philosophy in general; the second with dialectics; the third with logic. Six illustrations are presented in the first series of illustrations, seven in the second, and nine in the third. Each illustrtion is followed by a long description of it, each presented in a thoroughly systematic way, and with great clarity. The parts dealing with dialectics and logic are basically based on Aristotle. The first section deals mostly with classical Greek philosophy.
Other published works by Bencini, though not of a philosophical purport, are Præfatio dicta ante disputationem thesium (Preface as an Afterword of a Disputation of Theses; 1687) and Il Concilio di Calcedonia (The Council of Chalcedon; 1715). Both deal with apologetical themes, particularly in reference to reformation.
- Mark Montebello, Il-Ktieb tal-Filosofija f’Malta (A Source Book of Philosophy in Malta), PIN Publications, Malta, 2001, vol. I, p. 48.
- Ibid., vol. II, p. 91.
- Mark Montebello, Il-Ktieb tal-Filosofija f’Malta (A Source Book of Philosophy in Malta), PIN Publications, Malta, 2001.