The Marquises Faa di Bruno

Address 14046 Bruno AT, Italia

Faà (from Fontanile, in Casale and Alessandria)

Marquises of Bruno (1648), Mombaruzzo (1616); counts of Carentino; lords of Fontanile; consignors of Olivola, Terruggia

The coat of arms (blazon)

Golden, to the monstrous fairy (Faà), passing over a grassy plain; the body and the head with the helmet in majesty, all natural; it is fairy having the upper half of a naked and disheveled woman, with the wings of a bat, in green, the legs of a palmiped bird and the tail of a snake ending in a golden bolt, to the monstrous fairy (Faà), passing over a grassy plain ; the body and the head with the helmet in majesty, all natural; this fairy having the upper half of a naked and disheveled woman, with the wings of a bat, of green, the legs of a palmiped bird and the tail of a snake ending in lightning


The most illustrious of the Marquis Faà di Bruno

Francesco Faà di Bruno (Alessandria, March 29, 1825 – Turin, March 27, 1888), whose works are celebrated in the homonymous Museum in Turin (Museo Francesco Faà di Bruno), was a military, physicist, astronomer, mathematician, designer, and owner of various patents, civil engineer, founder of various educational and social institutions and, later in the years, Catholic priest and founder of the Congregation of the Minimal Sisters of Our Lady of Suffrage, recognized blessed by the Catholic Church. He was also a musician and composer.

Childhood, adolescence, and studies He was the twelfth and last child of Luigi, Marquis di Bruno, and Carolina Sappa de 'Milanesi. He, therefore, came from a family of the Piedmontese nobility. His full name is Francesco da Paola, Virginio, Secondo, Maria. In 1834, at the age of 9, he lost his mother. In 1836, he entered the college of the Somascan Fathers in Novi Ligure. In 1840, he entered the military academy of Turin.

  • Military

Having become an official, he was assigned to geographic studies and the making of cartography. In 1848, it participated in the First War of Independence. He fought in Peschiera and mapped the territory that the Piedmontese army traveled. In 1849, he was promoted to Captain of the General Staff.

He was wounded in combat in Novara. He received a decoration for his behavior in battle.

The army sent him to Paris, to the Sorbonne, so that he could deepen his mathematical and astronomical studies. He obtained his diploma in 1851.

In 1853, he requested and was granted leave for study reasons. His decision to refuse to fight in a duel with an officer who had offended him heavily influenced his choice. His refusal for reasons of conscience had placed him in a state of isolation as the duel, although forbidden, was considered at the time a moral obligation.

  • Scientist

Théorie générale de lIn 1855, he began to work at the French National Observatory under the direction of Urbain Le Terrier. In 1857, he began teaching Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of Turin. Since then, he has never stopped teaching, especially at the university but also in the Military Academy and in the Liceo Faà di Bruno. Due to the controversies between the Catholic world and the Italian state, in that anticlerical period, he was never appointed full professor. He was appointed extraordinary professor only in 1876. The content of his courses ranged in unusual fields: for example, the theory of elimination, the theory of invariants and elliptic functions. He published various treatises and memoirs. In 1859, he published in Paris, in French, the Théorie générale de l'élimination, in which the formula, which takes its name from him, of the nth derivative of a compound function is given. His name in mathematics, however, is mainly linked to the treatise on the theory of binary forms.

  • Designer

In addition to various instruments for scientific research, in 1856, faced with the blindness of one of his sisters (Maria Luigia), he designed and patented a writing desk for the blind. Then in 1878, sensing the need to mark the times of the day, he patented an electric alarm clock.

  • Engineer

He carried out the construction calculations and followed the construction of the bell tower of the church of Nostra Signora del Suffragio, in Turin, sometimes known as Santa Zita, collaborating with Arborio Mella who designed the church as a whole. It was, at the time, the second-tallest building in the city after the Mole: over 80 meters. The reason he wanted to make this work is purely social. He wanted to prevent female workers in the city from being deceived about their working hours, and had calculated that a two-meter-diameter clock placed on the various faces of the bell tower at a height of 80 meters would be visible throughout most of the city and freely consulted by all.

  • Man of faith

He was consistently a man of faith. While he was in the military, he wrote a Manual of the Christian Soldier. He lived with discomfort with his patriotic desire to see Italy united in the face of the anticlerical ideology that permeated his concrete realization.

As a scientist, he always testified to finding an absolute harmony between science and faith. As a lover of music, he published a magazine of sacred music: the Catholic Lira. He himself, as mentioned, composed sacred melodies whose simplicity and sense of peace was appreciated by Franz Liszt.

He founded Sunday singing schools attended by those maids to whom he dedicated much of his works. At the time, in fact, about female servants was very uncomfortable, not to say degraded: exploitation of work, poverty, and marginalization were on the agenda. It was also common for a maid to become pregnant and be removed from the family. He undertook a network of activities to help these people: one of the institutions he founded was, among other things, a home and a preservation house for single mothers. The central cornerstone of this activity was the Opera di Santa Zita founded in 1859.

He opened a professional college with summer retreats in Benevello d'Alba. The construction of the church of Nostra Signora del Suffragio which we have already mentioned, began in 1868 in the district of San Donato (the Borgo) and was at the service of this work. A congregation of nuns was born: the Minima of Our Lady of Suffrage. The delivery of the capes to the first postulants took place in 1869, but the first solemn professions could only take place in 1893, after his death, because it was necessary to wait for the official recognition of the Church which, in its hierarchical level, initially expressed some diffidence. He was a friend of Don Bosco, who was working in Turin in that same period. On 22 October 1876, he was ordained a priest. He also wanted this ordination to better follow the congregation of nuns.

  • Blessed

He died suddenly of an intestinal infection shortly after Don Bosco. Right from the start, he had a reputation for holiness. He was recognized as blessed in 1988, on the centenary of his death. March 27 is also the date set for the liturgical memorial of the blessed. The blessed is the patron of Army Engineers.

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