Inguanez, Mauro (21.9.1887-17.10.1955)

Benedictine monk

Born in Senglea, Inguanez entered Montecassino Abbey in 1906 and was ordained priest in 1911. The following year he was appointed archivist-librarian in which capacity he served for 32 years.

His high intellectual qualities, scientific approach, vast culture and erudition soon established him as one of the most distinguished medieval scholars in Italy and abroad. He was a widely-acclaimed authority on the origins of sacred drama and the liturgy and, through his regular publications, kept alive the old cultural tradition of the Benedictine Order. His Catalgus was a monumental work in Latin.

Consisting of three volumes, each divided into two sections, in which he catalogued the manuscripts and documents served in his abbey. They were patiently compiled and published at regular intervals between 1915 and 1941. In 1936 Inguanez discovered and published an interesting study a Xllth-century passion Play which was of great interest to mediaevalists and linguists alike. It turned out to be the oldest known passion play in Italy and was considered by contemporarycritics as being of fundamental importance, shedding new light on the development of the theatre as an artistic expression. Moreover, the play was the first definite Proof that a number of words in the Italian volgare, had, even in those very early times, found their way into works written in Latin.

In October 1943, during the heavy air raids that preceeded the total destruction of Montecassino in Febrary 1944, Inguanez's name became known world-wide when he managed to transport safely back to Rome some valuable manuscripts of Keats and Shelley.

Following a six-month fund-raising tour of America on behalf of his abbey, in 1947 he was appointed librarian at the Royal Malta Library. Here he did inestimable work reorganizirig the archives of the Order, including the restoriation, cataloguing, and retrieval from oblivion of many ancient manuscripts. He also discovered several rare editions of old book, and incunabula, a field of study in which he was particularly interested. His interest in Maltesearchives, though he was seriously hampered by ill health, fittingly brought to an end a ifetime of scholarship which was spent mainly abroad.

Inguanez's studies were written and published during the two main periods of his life -the first between 1912 and 1934 at Montecassino and the other during his tenure as librarian in Malta from 1947 to 1955. The list of his publications, amounting to 169 works, consists mainly of in-depth studies related to the history of the abbey and its famous libraries, codices, and prepositures, and of several critical editions of ealyf classical manuscripts works. Other works deal with the origins of the liturgy and sacred drama, documents written in Italian volgare, and a number of Melitensia articles of a popular nature.

In 1954 Inquanges was awarded the OBE.


Carol Jaccarini, Dom Mauro Inguanez: Benedictine of Montecassl, (1987); Jopseph Flask, Dom Mauro Inguanez,, OSB (1985)

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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