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Juan Ignacio Molina



(Mol. or Molin).

Naturalist and scientist; b. 20 July, 1740, at Guaraculen near Talca (Chile); d. 23 Oct. (12 Sept.?), 1829, at Imola or Bologna (Italy). Molina first studied in Santiago and became a Jesuit when only fifteen. The young scholastic excelled in languages (he composed a number of poems), and in the natural sciences. In 1767 he was sent to Italy which grew to be his second home; he was ordained at Imola soon after, and then lived as a tutor in Bologna. In his leisure time he devoted himself especially to the study of the natural sciences, although his chief distinction lies in having become the most prominent historian and geographer of his native American home. Molina published his works in Italian; they all appeared at Bologna, the first one anonymously. He treats of Chile in: (1) "Compendio della storia geografica, naturale e civile del regno del Chile" (1776), 8vo, 245 pp., 1 map, 10 tables; (2) "Saggio sulla storia naturale del Chile" (1782), 8vo, 368 pp., 1 map, 2nd enlarged edition (1810), 4to; (3) "Saggio della storia civile del Chile" (1787), 8vo, 333 pp., 2nd enlarged edition (1810), 4to, 306 pp. These three works have been translated into German (Leipzig, 1786-91); French (Paris); Spanish (2 vols., Madrid, 1788-95, the most complete edition; English (Middletown, Conn., 1808; London, 1809, 1825). The original and several of the translations contain Molina's portrait. As an expression of her gratitude Chile named the town of Molina after him. If these works evidence his learning as a student of natural history, this is equally true of his "Memorie di storia naturale lette in Bologna" (Bologna, 1821, 8vo, 2 vols. with 16 essays), which Molina as a member laid before the Instituto Pontificio. Another work, "Analogia de los tres reinos de la naturalezza", is of considerable interest, as it was written by Molina in Spanish, and because it was not published, although Mezzofanti procured the imprimatur in 1820. Molina was highly esteemed by the botanists; Schrank in 1789 named after him a genus of the Gramineæ, well known throughout Europe, Molinia; and Jussieu in the same year classified the genus Molinæa; other generic names (as Molina) are no longer used.

SOMMERVOGEL, Biblioth. de la Comp. de Jésus, V (1894); SACCARDO, La Botanica in Italia (Venice, 1895, 1901).

Joseph Rompel.








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