Biography

Ippolito Desideri was born in Pistoia the 20 December 1684 and, not yet sixteen, in 1700, entered Rome in Society of Jesus forming in the prestigious Collegio Romano, where, for his great qualities logical-philosophical and his passionate enthusiasm aimed at the salvation of others, was chosen by his superior, the Superior General Michelangelo Tamburini, for the difficult mission in the then far, mysterious and almost inaccessible ground Tibet, subject of unsuccessful attempts by the same company in the previous century.

The charm of “Indie” was certainly inspired by the experiences of Francis Xavier, Alessandro Valignano, Matthew Ricci, Roberto de Nobili and adventures narrated by Daniel Bartoli; the young Hippolytus had still not negligible examples even among his fellow citizens, including the Jesuit Giuliano Baldinotti (Pistoia 1591 – Macao 1631), good mathematician, first missionary in Tonkin (Vietnam) and Archangel Carradori, Franciscan missionary in Upper Egypt between 1630 and the 1638 and author of a dictionary Italian-Nubian, the first to be prepared for an African language sub-Saharan Africa.

Wish he left Rome the 9 September 1712, even before finishing the regular course of studies, and after an adventurous journey, by sea and by land, came to Lhasa the 18 March 1716. The trip will be untied from Goa, the “Rome of the East”, center of radiation of the Christianity in’Asia Southern and Eastern, a Delhi, Lahore, Srinagar in Kashmir difficult with the passing of the mountains Pir Panjal, foothills of the Himalayas; then, for the rugged ridges of the mountain Karakorum furrowed by the waters of’Indo and its tributaries, came to Leh, in Ladakh, and, finally, in the capital of Tibet, after a long and exhausting journey across the icy solitudes of the plateau transhimalayano. The travel report is full of acute observations historical, geographical, anthropological, sociological and naturalistic, always made clear literary style and poetically expressive.

A Lhasa the missionary, well received and supported in his studies, marveled at this opening and the fact that the ideas he proposed were welcomed, although Tibetans do not accept the uniqueness of salvation, remained stable in the belief that "each to his own law may be saved" (Mitn In, 193).

Wish, took control of the perfectly lingua tibetana, penetrated deeper conceptions of Buddhism, and admirably described, discussing the fundamentals of five books written directly in Tibetan. The work, however, was forcibly interrupted when, after five years of residence in Tibet, the 28 April was forced to leave Lhasa, on the basis of a injunction Vatican, as the Congregation Propaganda Fide had entrusted the mission of the Tibet the order of rival Capuchin. Reluctantly left the Tibet the 14 December 1721 (had held until then in the border village of Kuti), Wish remained several years in India, until the 21 January 1727 embarked from Pondicherry for’Europe, where he arrived, a Port-Louis in the lower Britain, the 22 June 1727. Through the France, and navigation Marseilles-Genoa, arrived in Italy and, After a brief stop in Pistoia, his hometown, and to Florence, returned to the 23 January 1728 "Prosperously in Rome fifteen years and four months after [be] party to go to the missions in the East Indies " (Mitn VII, 107).

The return was, however, little prosperous for him because his order was in disgrace and his hope to return to Tibet was finally frustrated, while he was prevented from publishing the report already prepared for printing and to deal in any way of the topics of his mission: in blissful solitude, in the house of his professed Company a Rome, died 13 April 1733.

The report of his mission contains a complete and thorough description of almost all aspects of life and Tibetan culture and especially religion, both in its outward manifestations, both in its philosophical foundations. All the writings of Desideri remained hidden and forgotten for centuries in the archives, and after that were discovered waited long publication and especially an adequate consideration in relation to their value. The life and work of Wish is now getting, as it deserves, the attention of scholars of various disciplines, for its historical interest and what it has to teach still three centuries later.

For a fuller biography see:

- E.g. BARGIACCHI, Ippolito Desideri S.J. the discovery of Tibet and Buddhism, Editions Brigade Leoncino, Pistoia, 2006.

- E.g. BARGIACCHI, A Bridge Across Two Cultures. Ippolito Desideri S.J. (1684 – 1733). A Brief Biography, Military Geographical Institute, Florence, 2008.

- E.g. BARGIACCHI, A bridge between two cultures. Ippolito Desideri S.J. (1684 – 1733). Short Biography, 2008.

- Trent POMPLUN, Jesuit on the Roof of the World. Ippolito Desideri's Mission to Tibet, Oxford University Press, New York, 2010, pp. XVI + (2) + 302.

- Michael SWEET, Leonard ZWILLING (eds.), Mission to Tibet. The Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Account of Father Ippolito Desideri, S.J. Translated by Michael J. Sweet. Edited by Leonard Zwilling, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010, pp. XXV + 797.

The historical events are treated in the work Desiderius:

- E.g. BARGIACCHI, The 'Report' of Ippolito Desideri between local history and international affairs, "Local History". Notebooks Pistoia of modern and contemporary culture, (a. I), n. 2, December 2003, pp. 4-103.

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