Born at Autun (or Dijon ), France, 8 October, 1715; died at Peking, 23 October, 1774, a Jesuit scientist, for thirty years in the service of Kien Lung, Emperor of China. He studied at Dijon, and at St. Sulpice, Paris, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Nancy, 18 March, 1737. After three years of renewed entreaties, he was granted his desire of the Chinese mission, but before his departure completed his astronomical studies at Paris under de l'Isle, de la Caille, and Le Monnierr, who attached much importance to his later correspondence. On his arrival at Peking in 1774 (or 1775), a persecution was raging against the missionaries in the provinces; still, as their scientific ability made them indispensable to the government, Father Benoît was retained at court and entrusted with the task of designing and carrying out a great system of decorative fountains in the royal gardens. He spent many years in this work, for which he evinced rare talent. He built European houses within the enclosures of these gardens and in front of one, in the Italian style of architecture, he constructed a curious water clock. The Manchu characterize the twelve hours of their day (twenty-four hours, European time ) by twelve animals of different species. On two sides of a large triangular basin of water Father Benoît placed figures of these animals, through the mouths of each of which, successively, for two hours, was forced a jet of water by some ingenuous mechanical device. While applying himself to his astronomical studies, he taught the emperor the use of the reflecting telescope. Among his numerous works were
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online