Prof. Francesco Egidi (1880 - 1969)
Francesco Egidi was a member of one of the most ancient and noble families of Montefiore dell’Aso. Records of the presence of the Egidi family in the town exist dating as far back as the 13th century. His scholarly excellence as an historian, essayist, philologist, psychic expert, researcher mark him out as a special son of Montefiore. However, his clear commitment to serving his town and his community added even more laurels to his crown. There are now several streets named after him in the region of Le Marche including one in Montefiore dell’Aso, and also an international conference on the paranormal and parapsychology is held here annually in his name.
Francesco Egidi was born in Montefiore on 16th February 1880, and studied in the Liceo Classico in Ascoli. He then went to study in Florence, and, finally to Rome, where he graduated with maximum marks in Classical Literature at the tender age of 21, and immediately started his teaching career at the ‘Annibal Caro’ Institute in Fermo.
During that time he met Linda Murri, daughter of the renowned physician, Augusto Murri, professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Bologna. Francesco became tutor to the children of Linda Murri, who was under house arrest in Porto San Giorgio, and married her in 1910, starting a new phase of his private and professional life. His wife’s personal history and the dramatic family events which were underway triggered such an uproar that the court case became the first public case in Italian history; bearing witness to this is the enormous range of literature available on this case. Her family and the family of her murdered husband became the subject of a politico-cultural clash, but thanks to influence from her family and the intercession of the government, Linda was allowed to begin a new life.
The Murri Affair (1974), directed by Mauro Bolognini
Francesco and Linda had an apparently happy marriage, but this, too, was not without its somewhat sensational aspects.
He continued working as a teacher until 1931, when he was given the chair in Neo-Latin Philology at the University of Rome.
He became involved with many cultural, literary and philological groups in Rome, and was a member of the Arcadian Society (the Accademia degli Arcadi), and Vice- President of the Tiberine Academy, both very high-brow, select organisations dedicated to promoting the classics, and cultural and philosophical investigation.
Francesco’s commitment to writing and journalism was extraordinary, judging by the number of texts that he produced. His knowledge of English, German, French and Spanish also allowed him to research most of the texts available, and also those in other fields of study. After 1910 he also became a member, president and director of several Philological Circles, Bulletins and Institutions. As a scholar and philologist he had a wide range of friends and colleagues, and he corresponded with leading figures in Italian literature such as Gabriele D'Annunzio.
Among his 156 publications on historic-philological matters are some important writings that have contributed to the understanding of Italian language and culture, including a study of Dante’s Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) written in 1313. Francesco also investigated the development of early Italian dialects and the transition from Latin to modern Italian, using local folklore, poetry and chivalric legends.
In 1943 something significant changed in his life. His wife fell seriously ill, and he became interested in Metapsychology and Parapsychology. She had for many years been a researcher in parapsychology and was a well-known medium – using the pseudonym ‘Anhelus’ to publish her findings. Francesco wrote at that time that he intended to leave philological and historical studies to devote himself entirely to parapsychology, and to try to put his wife’s research in order, as she was no longer able to speak. He was also determined to contact the spirit of her murdered husband to find out definitively who had been responsible for the murder, and clear his wife’s name. He became an expert in the field of parapsychology and was respected across Europe, and in 1954 he became head of the International Institute for Psychical Research. He was also a member of the Society for
Psychical Research in London, the oldest and most authoritative institution which studied metaphysics using scientific methods. From 1955 to 1959 he was honorary president of the Italian Parapsychological Society (Societa' Italiana di Parapsicologia) and many of his contributions appeared in Italian magazines. He also produced an exhaustive list of individuals active in this field between the 19th and 20th Century. In 1950 he published a book on the controversial figure, Daniel Dunglas Home, the 19th century Scottish physical medium. There are also texts focussing on the activities of the Roman psychic mediums, and also observations on mediumistic paintings -Pittura e disegni Metapsichici, 1953.
Egidi’ s approach to metaphysics and parapsychology was to give an objective view of the material available and to find a bridge between different realities, as he saw them, through scientific analysis. This method, developed from his experience of research in other fields, attempted to find links between mediumistic manifestation, everyday reality, the life of the spirit and the history of the discipline.
He returned to his beloved home town in Le Marche, where he founded the Pro Montefiore Association which aimed to promote culture and tourism in the town and the whole region. He clearly recognised that the recently developing popularity of cultural tourism might be harnessed even for the benefit of his little hometown.
in 1956 he was elected Mayor of Montefiore. One of his initiatives during his time as mayor was to have the mortal remains of his good friend, the artist and fellow Freemason, Adolfo de Carolis, transferred from the Varano cemetery in Rome back to the church of San Francesco in Montefiore. While continuing his psychic research, he also published books on the local dialect and on local traditions, and the history of the Italian language.
There are two major cultural attractions in Montefiore whose existence can be ascribed solely to Francesco Egidi. The first is the De Carolis gallery, which was officially opened on August 7th 1960, in the presence of the great and the good from Le Marche.
The second is the wonderful collection of more than 2,000 books and valuable manuscripts donated from his personal library, covering a wide range of subjects, from language to literature to local history and traditions, and, of course, metaphysics. They are now kept in the municipal archives and are available to the public.
He lived till the age of 90 and died on August 4th, 1969 and was buried with great solemnity in the cemetery in Montefiore.