Giuseppe Simone Assemani

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Giuseppe Simone Assemani
Titular Archbishop of Tyre
JS Assemani.jpg
Church Maronite Church
Consecration 7 December 1766
Personal details
Born 27 July 1687
Hasroun, Lebanon
Died 13 January 1768

Giuseppe Simone Assemani (Arabic: يوسف بن سمعان السمعاني‎‎ Yusuf ibn Siman as-Simani, English: Joseph Simon Assemani, Latin: Ioseph Simonius Assemanus), born on July 27, 1687 in Hasroun, Lebanon – died on January 13, 1768 in Rome) was a librarian, Lebanese orientalist and Maronite eparch. For his efforts,and encyclopedic knowledge he earned the nickname "The Great Assemani".


Giuseppe Simone Assemani was born on 27 July 1687 in Hasroun, Mount Lebanon from Assemani family.[1] His surname is related to several distinguished Orientalists and clergy ("Assemani" more than a surname, is an Arabic patronymic which means son of Simeon, but this has not prevented him to be called Simon)[2] When very young, in 1703, he was sent to the Maronite College in Rome, and was transferred thence to the Vatican library.[3] Assemani graduated himself in 1709. Talented graduates (at that time he had written three essays on the Syrian grammar and theology) was seen by Pope Clement XI, which left him in Rome and ordered him cataloging early Christian manuscripts that were brought in 1707 from Egypt, by his brother Elias. In 1710, Joseph served as scribe of Oriental Manuscripts (scriptor Orientalis), a translator from the Arabic and Syriac languages, as well as advisor to the Congregation for the review and reform of the liturgical books of the Eastern rites and was ordained priest on 21 September 1710.[4] In 1711 Giuseppe received papal authorization to pass from Maronite rite to the Latin one. From 1715 to 1717 he was sent to Wadi El Natrun, Cairo, Damascus and Lebanon to search for valuable manuscripts, and returned with about 150 very choice ones, filled up a collection of the Vatican Library. In 1735 Pope Clement XII sent him again to the East where he presided the 1736 Maronite Synod of Mount-Lebanon, which laid the foundations for the modern Maronite Church. He returned with a still more valuable collection, because he found an opportunity to collect even more ancient works, even more valuable than his first trip. In this time, he brought about 2,000 works, and the most important of them was the Codex Assemanius, a evangeliarium which he had bought from Jerusalem in 1736. He later played a significant role in mediating several crises in the Maronite Church hierarchy by virtue of his influence in Rome and his knowledge of the Maronite Church.

Back in 1738 in Lebanon, Giuseppe Simone before his death as the custodian and on his return he was made, in 1739, First Librarian of the Vatican library. He was also appointed by Carlo di Borbone official chronicler of the Kingdom of Naples.

In Rome he began immediately to elaborate plans to publicate the most valuable of his collected works. His translation of Ephrem the Syrian's writings, bibliography of Syriac writers from Library Clementino-Vaticana and the classification of Byzantine writings are also very important.

As reward of his activity he was appointed bishop on December 1, 1766 and consecrated titular archbishop of Tyre on December 7, 1766.[1] by Prince Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart, Duke of York and Titular bishop of Frascati, being his co-consecrators Stefano Evodio Assemani, his nephew, Titular bishop of Apamea in Bithynia and Nicholas-Xavier Santamarie, Titular bishop of Cyrene. He died in Rome on 13 January 1768.[5] Part of his work was lost in his apartment during a fire on August 30, 1768.[6]

His brother and nephew were also noted orientalists.


When appointed librarian of the Vatican library he instantly began to carry into execution most extensive plans for editing and publishing the most valuable manuscript treasures of the Vatican. His main work is:

  •, Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana in qua manuscriptos codices Syriacos, Arabicos, Persicos, Turcicos, Hebraicos, Samaritanos, Armenicos, Aethiopicos, Graecos, Aegyptiacos, Ibericos, et Malabaricos, jussu et munificentia Clementis XI Pontificis Maximi ex Oriente conquisitos, comparatos, et Bibliotecae Vaticanae addictos Recensuit, digessit, et genuina scripta a spuriis secrevit, addita singulorum auctorum vita, Joseph Simonius Assemanus, Syrus Maronita (Rome, 1719–1728), 9 vols folio

Of the Bibliotheca the first three vols only were completed. The work was to have been in four parts:

  1. Syrian and allied manuscripts, orthodox, Nestorian and Jacobite
  2. Arabian manuscripts, Christian and Islam
  3. Coptic, Aethiopic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts
  4. Syrian and Arabian manuscripts not distinctively theological[7]

Only the first part was completed, but extensive preparations were made for the others. There is a German abridgment by August Friedrich Pfeiffer (Erlangen 1770-77)[8] and a Reprint (Hildesheim, New York: Olms o.J. ca. 1990).

Other works are:

  • Ephraemi Syri opera omnia quae extant, Gr., Syr., et Lat., 6 vols. folio (Rome, 1737–1746). He edited the first three volumes, volumes 4 and 5 were edited by the Maronite Jesuit Mubarak, or Benedictus, and the 6th by his nephew Stefano Evodio Assemani.
  • Italicae historiae scriptores ex bibliothecae Vaticanae aliarumque insignium Bibliothecarum manuscriptis codicibus collegit, e praefationibus, notisque illustravit Joseph Simonius Assemanus. Romae, ex typographia Komarek apud Angelum Rotilium, 1751.
  • Codex canonum Ecclesiae graecae. Romae, ex typographia Komarek, 1762.
  • De scriptoribus Syris orthodoxis. Romae, typis Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, 1719.
  • Bibliotheca juris orientalis canonici et civilis auctore Josepho Simonio Assemano. (5 voll.) Romae, ex typographia Komarek, 1762-1766.
  • Italicae historiae scriptores ex Bibliothecae Vaticanae, aliarumque insignium bibliothecarum manuscriptis codicibus collegit & praefationibus, notisque illustravit Joseph Simonius Assemanus ... De rebus Neapolitanis et Siculis, ab anno Christi quingentesimo ad annum millesimum ducentesimum. (4 voll.) Romae, ex typographia Komarek, apud Angelum Rotilium, Linguarum Orientalium Typographum, 1751-1753.
  • Josephi Simoni Assemani De Syris monophysitis dissertatio. Romae, ex typographia Sacrae Congregationis de propaganda fide, 1730.
  • Josephi Simonii Assemani Quae hactenus typis prodierunt opera omnia. Romae, ex typographia Angeli Rotilii, & Philippi Bacchelli, e regione domus PP. Theatinorum S. Andreae de Valle, 1751.
  • De sacris imaginibus et reliquiis," prévu en 5 volumes. Une partie des manuscrits fut sauvée et des extraits publiés par Bottarius (Rome, 1776).
  •, Kalendaria Ecclesiae universae, in quibus tum ex vetustis marmoribus, tum ex codicibus, tabulis, parietinis, pictis, scriptis, scalptisve, sanctorum nomina,imaagines, et festi per annum dies Ecclesiarum Orientis, et Occidentis praemissis uniuscujusque Ecclesiae originibus recensentur, describuntur, notisque illustrantur. (6 voll.) Roma, sumptibus Fausti Amidei ..., 1755.
  • Rudimenta linguae Arabicae cum catechesi christiana.... Romae, typis Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda Fide, 1732.
  • Nuova grammatica per apprendere agevolmente la lingua greca composta da monsignor Giuseppe Simonio Assemani. (2 voll.) In Urbino, nella stamperia della Ven. Cap. del SS. Sagramento per lo stampator Camerale, 1737.
  • Oratio de eligendo summo Pontifice ad E. mos & R. mos Principes S.R.E. Cardinales habita in SS. Basilica Vaticana a Josepho Simonio Assemano, die 18 Februarii 1740. Romae, ex tipographia Apostolica Vaticana, apud Joannem Mariam Salvioni, 1740.
  • Oratio habita in Basilica principis apostolorum de vrbe sie 22. februarii 1733. A Josepho Simonio Assemano ... dum a capitulo, et canonicis Benedicto XIII pontifici maximo solenne exequiae celebrarentur, antequam ejus corpus inde ad ecclesiam Santae Mariae supra Mineruam efferretur. Romae, & Ferrariae, Typis Bernardini Pomatelli impressoris episcopalis, 1733.
  • Abraham Echellensis; Chronicon Orientale," publié dans "Scriptores Historiae Byzantinae," vol. XVII.
  • Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio" (Rome, 1831). Plusieurs dissertations, sur les Églises Orientales, publiées par le cardinal Angelo Mai.
  • Bibliothecae apostolicae vaticanae codicum manuscriptorum catalogus in tres partes distributus in quarum prima orientales in altera graeci in tertia latini italici aliorumque europaeorum idiomatum codices Stephanus Evodius Assemanus archiepiscopus apamensis et Joseph Simonius Assemanus. Paris, Maisonneuve, 1926.

Unpublished works[edit]

  • "The ancient and the new Syria" (9 volumes);
  • "The history of the East" (9 volumes);
  • "Cathedrals of the Eastern Church" (6 volumes);
  • "Euchologia Eastern Church" (7 volumes).



  1. ^ a b Graf, Georg (1960). "104". Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, Volume 3. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. pp. 444–445. 
  2. ^ [Simon is the name he was mentioned in Italian, even if the calling of the name in Arabic is actually Shim'ūn.]
  3. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ "Archbishop Josephus Simon Assemani". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ [Luzzatto, David Samuel. Samuel David Luzzatto, History of the Hebrew Language. [sl]: Gorgias Press LLC, 2005 S. 181 (English)]
  7. ^ Oussani 1913.
  8. ^ Joseph Simonius Assemanns orientalische Bibliothek oder Nachrichten von. 1776. 


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