Francesco Bressani

The First Italian Jesuit in North America

By Frank Spezzano


FRANCESCO GIUSEPPE BRESSANI

Born: 6 May 1612 in Rome, Italy
Died: 9 September 1672 in Florence
Mission: Jesuit priest to convert the natives of New France to the Christian faith

Accomplishments: Fr. Bressani is the author of an important map entitled Novae Franciae Accurata Delineatio which is the earliest representation of the native life in New France in existence .

Bressani was an astonishing man, even for a missionary. He sailed for the new world in 1642. Though only twenty-nine, he had already attained distinction as a professor of literature, philosophy and mathematics. His scientific interests were continually evident.

He made astronomical observations at Ste. Marie among the Hurons with a telescope. When he reached the Huron country in the fall of 1645, he was able to put his astronomical training to excellent use. On a cold winter night Bressani held a telescope in his mutilated hands and observed a lunar eclipse with an accuracy unmatched in North America for the rest of the century and equaled at the time only by European astronomers.


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