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Born at Autun (or Dijon), France, 8 October, 1715; died at Peking, 23 October, 1774, a Jesuit scientist, for thirty years in the service of Kien Lung, Emperor of China. He studied at Dijon, and at St. Sulpice, Paris, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Nancy, 18 March, 1737. After three years of renewed entreaties, he was granted his desire of the Chinese mission, but before his departure completed his astronomical studies at Paris under de l'Isle, de la Caille, and Le Monnierr, who attached much importance to his later correspondence. On his arrival at Peking in 1744 (or 1745), a persecution was raging against the missionaries in the provinces; still, as their scientific ability made them indispensable to the government, Father Benoît was retained at court and entrusted with the task of designing and carrying out a great system of decorative fountains in the royal gardens. He spent many years in this work, for which he evinced rare talent. He built European houses within the enclosures of these gardens and in front of one, in the Italian style of architecture, he constructed a curious water clock. The Manchu characterize the twelve hours of their day (twenty-four hours, European time) by twelve animals of different species. On two sides of a large triangular basin of water Father Benoît placed figures of these animals, through the mouths of each of which, successively, for two hours, was forced a jet of water by some ingenuous mechanical device. While applying himself to his astronomical studies, he taught the emperor the use of the reflecting telescope. Among his numerous works were
Sommervogel, Bibl. de la c. de J.; De Feller-Perennis, Biog. univ. (Paris, 1834), II, 217.
APA citation. (1907). Michel Benoît. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02482a.htm
MLA citation. "Michel Benoît." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02482a.htm>.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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