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Faà di Bruno was born in Alessandria, then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, on 29 March 1825. He was of noble birth, being the twelfth and youngest child of the Marchese Luigi Faà di Bruno and the Lady Carolina Sappa de' Milanesi. He was raised in a home marked by happiness, the arts and a concern for the poor arising from the parents' strong Catholic faith.
On his return to Turin, he took up the position of Professor of Mathematics at the local university. In recognition of his achievements as a mathematician, the degree of Doctor of Science was conferred on him by the Universities of Paris and Turin.
While carrying out his career responsibilities, Faà di Bruno also became actively involved in the social outreach to the poor being developed by leading figures of the Catholic Church in Turin. He became a close friend of John Bosco, and helped establish refuges for the elderly and the poor. He oversaw the construction of a church in Turin, Our Lady of Suffrage.
Priest and founder
Somewhat late in his life, Faà di Bruno came to feel that pursuing Holy Orders would help him in his religious activities, and commenced the necessary studies in theology. What he found, however, was that the Archbishop of Turin at that time would not accept an older man for ordination, Faà di Bruno being in his late 40s at that time. For centuries, the traditional route for this profession began in a boy's mid-teens.
Faà di Bruno appealed to Pope Pius IX and received his support, finally being ordained at age 51. He founded the Minim Sisters of St. Zita in 1881 to provide help for maids and domestic servants, later expanding its outreach to include others, such as unmarried mothers. With their help, he also established another refuge, one dedicated to taking in prostitutes.
In an address to the Minim Sisters in 2002, Pope John Paul II said, ""Francesco Faà di Bruno", I said, is "a giant of faith and charity", for his message of light and love, "far from being exhausted, seems timelier than ever, urging all those who have Gospel values at heart to action"" (Homily, 25 September, n. 4; ORE, 24 October 1988, p. 15).
He was the author of about 40 original articles published in the "Journal de Mathématiques" (edited by Joseph Liouville), Crelle's Journal, "American Journal of Mathematics" (Johns Hopkins University), "Annali di Tortolini", "Les Mondes", "Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences", etc.; the first half of an exhaustive treatise on the theory and applications of elliptic functions which he planned to complete in three volumes; "Théorie générale de l'élimination" (Paris, 1859); "Calcolo degli errori" (Turin, 1867), translated into French under the title of "Traité élémentaire du calcul des erreurs" (Paris, 1869); and most important of all, "Théorie des formes binaires" (Paris, 1876), translated into German (Leipzig, 1881). For a list of the memoirs of Faà di Bruno, see the "Catalogue of Scientific Papers of the Royal Society: (London, 1868, 1877, 1891), t. II, vii, and ix.
Brigaglia, Aldo (2004), "L'Opera Matematica", in Giacardi, Livia (ed.), Francesco Faà di Bruno. Ricerca scientifica insegnamento e divulgazione [Francesco Faà di Bruno. Scientific research teaching and popularization], Studi e fonti per la storia dell'Università di Torino (in Italian), XII, Torino: Deputazione Subalpina di Storia Patria, pp. 111-171. "The mathematical work" is an essay on the mathematical activity, describing both his research and teaching, of Francesco Faà di Bruno.
Giacardi, Livia, ed. (2004), Francesco Faà di Bruno. Ricerca scientifica insegnamento e divulgazione [Francesco Faà di Bruno. Scientific research teaching and popularization], Studi e fonti per la storia dell'Università di Torino (in Italian), XII, Torino: Deputazione Subalpina di Storia Patria, p. 671. This is a collection of essays, including original documents, related to Francesco Faà di Bruno's scientific work, including his teaching and engineering activity.
Solari, Patrizia (July 2007), "Beato Francesco Faà di Bruno" [Blessed Francesco Faà di Bruno] (PDF), Caritas Insieme (in Italian), XXV (2): 40-44. This reference and the following one (part two) deal with aspects of the biography of Faà di Bruno other than his scientific achievements.
Solari, Patrizia (April 2008), "Beato Francesco Faà di Bruno. Seconda parte." [Blessed Francesco Faà di Bruno. Part two.] (PDF), Caritas Insieme (in Italian), XXVI (1): 44-47. This is part two of a biographical article about Francesco Faà di Bruno, concerning aspects of his life other than his scientific achievements.
Tricomi, G. F. (1962), "Francesco Faà di Bruno", Matematici italiani del primo secolo dello stato unitario (Italian mathematicians of the first century of the unitary state), Memorie dell'Accademia delle Scienze di Torino. Classe di Scienze fisiche matematiche e naturali, series IV (in Italian), I, p. 120, Zbl0132.24405, archived from the original on 2011-07-09, retrieved CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). Available from the website of the.