North American Scholar

DEFERRARI, Roy Joseph

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1890-06-01
  • Born City: Stoneham
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Augustino & Mary D.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1969-08-24
  • Death City: Washington
  • Death State/Country: DC
  • Married: Evelyn Mary Biggi, 30 Dec. 1920.
  • Education:

    A.B. Dartmouth, 1912; M.A. Princeton, 1913; Ph.D., 1915.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Lat. & Gk., Princeton, 1915-18; instr. to prof. Catholic U. (Washington), 1918-67; dir. summer sessions, 1929-60; dean of grad. school, 1930-38; sec. gen., 1938-67; instr. military studies, Princeton, 1917; fell. Med. Acad. Am., 1942.

  • Dissertation:

    “Lucian's Atticism: The Morphology of the Verb” (Princeton, 1915).

  • Publications:

    Saint Basil: The Letters (trans.), 4 vols., LCL (London & New York, 1926-34; repr. Cambridge, 1950-53); A Concordance of Prudentius, with James Marshall Campbell, Medieval Academy of America, Publ. 9 (Cambridge, 1932; repr. Hildesheim, 1966); A Concordance of Ovid, with Sister M. Inviolata Barry & M. R. P. McGuire (Washington, DC, 1939; repr. Hildesheim, 1968); A Concordance of Lucan, with Sister Maria Walburg Fanning & Sister Anne Stanislaus Sullivan (Washington, DC, 1940; repr. Hildesheim, 1965); A Concordance of Statius, with Sister M. Clement Eagan (Brookland, DC, 1943; repr. Hildesheim, 1966); A Lexicon of St. Thomas Aquinas, with Sister M. Inviolata Barry (Washington, DC, 1948-53); Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Books 1-5 (trans.), Fathers of the Church 19 (New York, 1953; repr. Washington, DC, 1965), and Books 6-10, Fathers of the Church 29 (New York, 1955; repr. Washington, DC, 1969); Saint Ambrose, Theological and Dogmatic Works (trans.), Fathers of the Church 44 (Washington, DC, 1963); Paulus Orosius; Seven Books of History against the Pagans (trans.), Fathers of the Church 50 (Washington, DC, 1964).

  • Notes:

    Roy Deferrari's scholarship was in great measure not in the traditional mold. Indeed, he might well be assessed rather as an organizer of scholarly endeavor, as a translator, as an effective administrator. He was a founder of The Catholic University of America Patristic Studies and participated as reader or director in most of its first eighty volumes. During the 1930s and 1940s he directed the preparation of a number of concordances in collaboration with colleagues and graduate students. A later publication of a related nature is his Lexicon of St. Thomas Aquinas (1948-53). He translated The Letters of St. Basil in four volumes for the Loeb Classical Library (1926-34) and was for many years the editorial director of The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation. Throughout most of his career, Deferrari was constantly being requested to perform one or another administrative function within his university, whether as Secretary General of the University, Head of the Department of Greek and Latin, or Director of Workshops. His textbooks for each of the four levels of high-school Latin, produced at various times from 1948 through 1967, achieved widespread usage in their day. As chairman of Catholic University's Committee on Affiliation, he was at one point responsible for providing services to more than a thousand schools at all levels from elementary through university—this apart from his work as consultant to numerous institutions of higher education, to many American Catholic bishops, and to religious congregations in the Americas and in Asia. President Truman appointed him to a panel sent to assist Gen. MacArthur on educational problems in postwar Japan. The recipient of thirteen honorary degrees, he was named a Knight of St. Sylvester by Pope John XXIII.

  • Sources:

    Roy J. Deferrari, Memoirs of the Catholic University of America 1918-1960 (Boston, 1962), with his own bibliography in Appendix 4, pp. 441-44; idem, A Layman in Catholic Education, His Life and Times (Boston, 1966); A. L. Gabriel et al., Speculum 45 (1970) 519; Thomas Halton, New Catholic Encyclopedia 17, Supplement: Change in the Church (New York, 1979) 179.

    Image credit: The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, The Catholic University of America

  • Author: Michael P. McHugh