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      * Abate Fabiani
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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1823 to 1830 > Abate Fabiani

The abate Ubaldo Fabiani, a young Modenese priest of much promise, who, after completing his studies, had been appointed lecturer in sacred Scripture and Hebrew in his native university, came to Bologna in 1829, with letters from the abate Cavedoni to Mezzofanti, under whom he proposed to perfect himself in Hebrew and other Oriental languages. Mezzofanti received him with the utmost cordiality ; and the great ability and industry which he exhibited, as well as his exceeding amiableness and unaffected piety, completely won the heart of his master. On his return to Modena, after a residence of a few months, Mezzofanti wrote to his friend Cavedoni.

Bologna, 17 October, 1829.
" Don Ubaldo Fabiani is just about to return to Modena, after a sojourn of three months here, the entire of which he has passed in the midst of books. It would be impossible for me to describe to you the assiduity, avidity, and perseverance, with which I have seen him apply to his studies; but I can safely say that the fruit which he has derived from them has even exceeded the labour, as he unites with unwearied diligence a ready wit and a peculiar aptitude for this branch of learning. The principal object of his attention has been the sacred Hebrew text; but he has also applied himself to Chaldee, and in the end to the Rabinical Hebrew—in all cases with most rapid progress. Had his time not been so limited, he had intended to devote himself also to Arabic —a language which has of late become so necessary an appliance of the polemics of sacred Scripture.' But I have every confidence that he will do this also, when he shall return another year to Bologna ; and I shall be more than willing to accompany him in this study also.

I am much indebted to you for having given me an opportunity of forming the acquaintance of so worthy an ecclesiastic. I have to thank you also for your learned publications, which you were kind enough to send me, and which, in the midst of all my varied occupations, are a source of real pleasure to me. For- give my irregularity and tardiness as a correspondent; or rather do you return good for evil, by writing to me the more frequently. You will thus do what is most grateful to your devoted friend."

Fabiani had hardly reached Modena when he was seized with fever—the terrible perniciosa of the Italian summer and autumn—and was carried off after an illness of a few days, at the early age of twenty-four. As soon as the melancholy news reached Bologna, Mezzofanti wrote once more to his friend Cavedoni.

Bologna, November 12, 1829.
"Death has snatched Don Ubaldo from us ! Alas, how much have we lost in him !—how miserably have we seen all the hopes which we placed in him, cut off in a single moment ! What might we not have expected from a young ecclesiastic, so entirely devoted to piety and to letters!

As for himself, his only aspirations were for heaven. His studies had no other end or aim, save God : and God has been pleased to take him to Himself, crowning with an early reward a virtue which, even in the first flower of years, had attained to its full maturity. Ah, let us hope that our dear Don Ubaldo now close to the Divine Fountain, is there admitted to the hidden source of the divine oracles, to the study of which he addressed himself here with such indefatigable application. Now he will recall to memory, the affectionate care bestowed upon him here by his parents, by his dear Don Celestino, and even by his last master—last in merit as well as in time—and will feel the force of the words which I often repeated to him, never with more tenderness than at our last parting—' Ah, Don Ubaldo, give thyself entirely to the Lord!' He feels now, I confidently trust, what a thing it is to ' belong entirely to the Lord. Ah, my dear Don Celestino, I should not be acting worthily, if, on such an event, I gave room for a single moment to earthly thoughts. Our friend has flown to heaven :—let our hearts also turn (hither, where we hope to meet him in everlasting joy. Assist me by your prayers to attain this end. When you see our deceased friend's parents, comfort them with the true and blessed consolations which our holy religion bestows; and let us when, in the Adorable Sacrifice, we offer prayers for those who are in tribulation, never fail to pray for each other, and continally strive to disentangle ourselves more and more from the vanity of the world."

The premature death of this excellent young cler¬gyman was felt at Modena as a real calamity. His friend, the abate Cavedoni, published these simple but touching letters of Mezzofanti in the Memorie Note 1 of Modena, as the best testimony which could be offered to the rare merit of the deceased; but, although already known in Italy, they are well wor¬thy of being preserved, not merely as a tribute to the memory of the youth whose death they record, but as representing most truthfully the piety, the sensibility, the fervour, and above all, the amiable and affectionate disposition, of the writer himself.


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Note 1
Vol. xvi., p. 229-30.

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