Biography of Guido Baccelli
The son of the physician Antonio Baccelli, Guido Baccelli descended from a famous Roman family, many of his forefathers being honoured on the marble tables of the Capitol. He was a gifted boy with an early love of sciences, commencing his studies at the Collegio Ghislieri in Pavia in 1848. At the college circulated these verses, later to be proved prophetic, of him:
Dopo che sarà morto il gran Pio Nono,
più nessun Papa siederà sul trono.
He subsequently returned to his hometown in order to commence the study of medicine, distinguishing himself to the degree that in 1852 he received the diploma of doctor of honour of medicine, and the following year the same award in surgery.
In 1854 Baccelli was awarded a gold medal and in 1855, through public concours, became assistant physician in the Roman hospitals. In 1856, again through a public concours, he was appointed professor of forensic medicine at the University of Rome. Baccelli, however, also taught botany and general pathology at the university, and in 1863 clinical medicine.
After two years he renounced his tenure as professor of forensic medicine for political reasons, protesting the persecution of his predecessor by the Papal government. He then devoted his efforts to anatomical studies and particularly to pathological anatomy. As a chair of this discipline was established at the University of Rome, largely due to his efforts and against the wish of the Papal government, he became the first to hold this tenure. In this position he contributed significantly in preparing Roman youth for the modern trends in medicine. He also acquired a great reputation as a physician, soon having the largest consultative practice in Rome.
In 1870 Rome became a part of the Kingdom of Italy, and soon afterwards Baccelli was appointed to the chair of clinical medicine at the University of Rome.
An energetic man with a great interest in matters of society, Baccelli also took an active part in public life. In 1875 his fellow Roman citizens elected him to the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian parliament, where he soon stood forth as one of the leaders of the leftists, or Progressive Party. As the leftists came into position to govern, Baccelli was twice offered the ministry of public education, turning down this offer twice. In January 1881, after repeated requests, he entered the council of the crown as minister of education. In this position he presented several propositions of laws to the chamber of deputies, many of which contributed to necessary reforms in the Italian system of public education. One of his propositions concerned the establishment of higher education for women, others were important in giving universities a more autonomous position. Baccelli also used his position as a minister to promote diggings and reconstructing the Forum romanum and the Scavi della Minerva. Ha also concerned himself with the sanitary problems and the clearing of the Campagna romana.
His memorial was unveiled in Rome on April 21, 1931.