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Martin Anton Delrio

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Scholar, statesman, Jesuit theologian, born at Antwerp, 17 May, 1551; died at Louvain, 19 October, 1608. He studied at Paris, Douai, Louvain, and Salamanca where he received the degree of Doctor of Law in 1574. Returning to the Low Countries with the reputation of being "the miracle of his age", a title given him by Justus Lipsius, he held the offices of senator, auditor of the army, vice-chancellor, and procurator general. In 1580 he entered the Society of Jesus, made his novitiate at Valladolid, and returned to Louvain for further studies. He afterwards held the chairs of philosophy, moral theology, and Scripture at the Universities of Douai, Liège, Louvain, Graz, and Salamanca. He possessed a speaking-knowledge of at least nine languages, wrote in a pure though somewhat diffuse style, and was careful to the extreme in the preparation of his books, as may be seen from the fact that his second work, published at the age of twenty-three, contains citations from nearly eleven hundred authors. His principal works comprise: Commentaries on Claudius, Ennius, Florus, and Seneca; on the ancient geographer and historian, C. J. Silvius Polyhistor; notes on the Christian poets, St. Orientius and St. Aldhelm ; an exhaustive treatise on civil law ; a "Historia Belgica", on the contemporary disorders in the Low Countries; some controversial pamphlets written against Joseph Scaliger; commentaries on Genesis, on the Canticle of Canticles , and on the Lamentations of Jeremias ; an explanation of various proverbial expressions in the Old Testament called "Adagialia sacra Veteris Testamenti"; panegyrics and other works on the virtues of the Blessed Virgin; and a treatise on magic, called "Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex". This last work, the one by which Delrio is best known, was much praised in its day and went through many editions, but can no longer be accepted in full.

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