Giulio F. Basetti-Sani, OFM
1912 – 2001
Fr. Giulio Basetti-Sani, OFM, was born Jan. 6, 1912 in Florence, Italy. Received into the Tuscan Province of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis in 1927, he professed temporary vows in 1928 and made his solemn profession in 1933. Fr. Giulio was ordained in 1935, at age 23.
For the next two years, he studied at the Institute Catholique in Paris, where he came under the lifelong influence of his mentor, Louis Massignon, a renowned Islamic scholar. He then spent three years in Rome at the Pontifical Institute of Oriental Studies. Later, he did graduate work in France and Quebec. His degrees include licentiates in theology and philosophy, a doctorate in Oriental Church studies and a diploma in Coptic and Arabic languages. The Order also named him a General Lector in theology.
Fr. Giulio’s lifelong interest in Mohammed and Islam were inspired by the encounter of St. Francis with the Saracen sultan, during which, according to Arnold Fortini, “the barriers between these men fell forever and they came to love and understand one another.” This is the vision to which Fr. Giulio devoted his life. In 1973, after some years of leave from the Order, Fr. Giulio became a member of Holy Name Province. He was then teaching at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada, following three years of teaching at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y.
Prior to joining the Province, Fr. Giulio served as a missionary in Brazil, Egypt and other Arabic countries. He spent 21 years teaching sacred scripture in the Seminary for Franciscans of the Coptic Rite, just outside Cairo. After joining Holy Name Province, he taught at St. Thomas University in Manila from 1977 to 1980 and also lectured or served as a visiting professor at a number of other distinguished universities, including Columbia University in New York City, Muir Institute of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Rice University in Texas and Colorado University at Boulder.
From 1980 to 1994, Fr. Giulio continued his scholarly activities in Trent, Italy. He returned to the United States to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., from 1994 to 1995 before returning to Naples, Italy. In 1997, he transferred to the retirement friary in Fiesole, Italty.
He died on March 24, 2001 in Florence, Italy. Fr. Giulio was 89 years old, a professed friar for 73 years and a priest for 65 years.