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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1834 to 1836 > Angelo Mai

The Pope, Gregory XVI., himself, a great lover of oriental studies, received him into his most cordial intimacy. In the one brief hour of recreation which this great and zealous pontiff, who retained even in the Vatican the spirit and the observances of the cloister, allowed himself after dinner, Mezzofanti was his frequent companion. The privilege of entree was open to him at all times; but it was specially understood that at this more private and informal hour, when the Pope loved to see his most cherished friends around him, Mezzofanti should present himself at least once every week.

In like manner his early friend, Giustiniani. also an accomplished oriental scholar, lost no time, on Mezzofanti's coming to Rome, in resuming with him the intimate friendship which they had contracted during his Eminence's residence at Bologna, as Cardinal Legate. Mezzofanti used to spend every Wednesday evening with Cardinal Giustiniani; and on one occasion, when Dr. Wiseman called at the Cardinal's, he found them reading Arabic together. He met with equal kindness from the Cardinal Secretary, Bernetti, and from Cardinal Albani, who had both known him at Bologna. The venerable old Cardinal Pacca, too, took especial delight in his company. He was a constant guest at the literary assemblies in the palace of Cardinal Zurla, known to general readers as the historian of Marco Polo and the early Venetian travelers.

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