Clemente Benedettucci (July 4, 1850 – 1949), born in Montelupone, was the son of Nicola and Baiocco Maria. He had one sister, Anna, born in 1852, that he adored. Showing much academic proficiency, he attended the renowned boarding school Campana di Osimo, to undertake classical and religious studies. During his studies, he had extensive correspondence with his father, letters he preserved, still present in the Benedettucci collection. After leaving boarding school, he attended University of Macerata, studying law. In 1872, at the age of 22, he received his degree with the highest marks, before apprenticing as a private lawyer in Macerata with Piccolini. He even won a trial at this young age, resulting in admiration within his profession as well as the whole community. But at the age of 27, he decided to leave his law career, really without explanation. He embraced religious life, and he became a priest. He studied theology privately and was ordained by Cardinal Monaco La Valletta in January 1877, before entering the Congregation of the Fathers of the Recanati Oratory. He returned to Recanati and celebrated his first Mass in little church of Saint Anna in February 2, 1877, Candlemas. A gifted priest, he quickly became a prominent figure in the local Catholic community and of the Congregation of San Filippo, taking on various important and diplomatic responsibilities.
Particularly connected with Recanati’s atmosphere, he took on many roles in public life, creating many opportunities for the community, as well as being a representative at the town hall and even a long-standing president of the local Congregation of Charity. He studied the local culture, wrote books about Leopardi, local history, taking a particular interest in the Church of San Giovanni in Pertica and the Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto.
In 1882 at the age of 32, Benedettucci became the Superior of the San Filippo Oratory of Recanati. He dedicated his life to the rebirth of spiritual and material life of the Oratory, doing so by utilizing the inheritance left by his father.
During his very long life, Benedettucci was obsessive collector of books—rare books, biographies, and local history books. Concurrently, he collected humanistic books related to philosophy and theology, along with national and regional newspapers, and saintly prayers cards and devotional prints, posters, autographs, postcards, and preserving personal letters. He also managed to acquire manuscripts written by clergyman Giuseppe Antonio Vogel, previously belonging to the Solari family in Loreto.
The library became so extensive that he donated some volumes to the Leopardi Library, those specifically concerning the Leopardi family. In 1921, he managed to acquire the church of San Filippo Neri and the adjacent buildings, including the Palazzo Melchiorri, with the hall of Palazzo Bambini, decorated 1514. This is where he housed his library.
In dying, he left an incredible collection to which others cannot compare.
From the beginning it was clear that it would be hard to manage and conserve this rich collection. According to his will, Benedettucci left his entire estate to the Church of San Filippo Neri, together with the library and the Palazzo Melchiorri, that was his residence.
Together with San Filippo Neri Church, the collection became the responsibility of the Deputazione di Storia Patria for the Marche region and the Instituto Marchigiano di Scienze Lettere ed Arti. A major undertaking would be creating a catalog, since Benedettucci had only put together a partial list, thus far. He knew every book he owned, but his cataloguing system only indicated details such as the provenance of purchase or sometimes even the antiquarian market, but it was limiting. Also, the two cultural institutions were experiencing a post-war crisis, and they could not manage the responsibilities of the library. As a result, the Soprintendenza Bibliografica for Bologna, Romagna and Marche took over, although already overloaded with work themselves. From 1952 – 1963, they only did partial and spot-checking of the Benedettucci Library due to underfunding and lack of staff. In 1962, they mediated an agreement with San Filippo and the Comune of Recanati to manage the library publicly. During this period, the collections was split into the “relevant” and “irrelevant” items, so many of materials in the collection deteriorated, while others remained well-maintained.
Because there was no catalog, those responsible for the library did not apply to get historical status form the government, adding to the lack of proper preservation of the collection. Additionally, the building undertook architectural refurbishment, further contributing to the archival collection’s unfortunate destiny. The same is true for Benedettucci’s letters. The whole archival collection was threatened by these renovations, rendering the collection inaccessible and unorganized.
San Filippo Neri Church eventually asked Fr. Fioriano Grimaldi, the archivist of the Basilica della Santa Casa and Diocesan officer for cultural heritage, to do a survey of the manuscripts and archival materials, to figure out what actually exists in the collection. Despite the fact the final catalogue is not completed (hopefully soon!), it is something that is desperately needed. This revived undertaking allows the books to be accessible for reading and studying. The cataloguing continues today under Dr. Denise Tanoni, archivist.