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Giacinto Placido Zurla
Cardinal Vicar of Rome, writer on medieval geography, born at Legnano, of noble parents, 2 April, 1769; died at Palermo, 29 Oct., 1843.
At the age of eighteen Zurla entered the Camaldolese Monastery of San Michele di Murano at Venice, where he found a life-long friend in Mauro Cappellari (afterwards Gregory XVI), a young monk of his own age. He became lector in philosophy and theology, and in 1802 published a theological textbook. As librarian, his attention was attracted by the map of the world executed between 1457 and 1459 by the famous Camaldolese geographer Fra Mauro, and in 1806 he published an account of it entitled "Il Mappamondo di Fra Mauro". This led to further studies on early travellers, of which the most important result was the work, "Di Marco Polo e degli altri viaggiatori veneziano" (2 vols., Venice, 1818-19). In 1809 Zurla was elected a definitor of his congregation and given the title of abbot. The next year the monastery was suppressed by order of Napoleon, but the monks carried on their college dressed as secular priests. Of this institution Zurla acted as rector and Cappellari as lector of philosophy until its dissolution in 1814. From this year he taught theology in the patriarchal seminary till 1821, when he journeyed to Rome and resumed the white habit of St. Romuald at S. Gregorio Cappellari was now abbot. By Pius VII he was named consultor of various congregations and prefect of studies in the Collegio Urbanno; in 1821 he received the cardinal's hat, and in the following year the titular Archbishopric of Edessa. He was Cardinal Vicar to Leo XII and his two successors, and took an active interest in the organization of the Roman seminary, the reform of criminal tribunals, the delimitation of Roman parishes, and the affairs of the many congregations of which he was a member. Cardinal Zurla was greatly loved by his friends, but his zeal for the reform of abuses made him some enemies in Rome.
Sanseverino, Notizie sulla vita e le opere di Placido Zurla (Milan, 1857)