Pucci, Francesco (Lat. Puccius), an Italian theologian, noted as the founder of a heretical school. flourished in the 16th century. He was a native of Florence, and belonged to a noble and ancient family which produced three cardinals. He went to Lyons to engage in commerce, but having assisted in the religious disputes so frequent at that epoch, he left his country to give himself to the study of theology. From Lyons he went to England, and in 1574 he took the degree of master of arts at Oxford. In adopting the greater part of the opinions of the Reformation, he expected to make ample use of that most precious conquest, liberty of search; he joined himself to no sect, or, rather, he took from each that which best accorded with his own mind, naturally bold and restless. This independence created for him enemies and disputes in all the countries which he visited; he led a wandering life, and instead of passing for a person of troubled mind in search of truth, he was loaded with invectives and charged with fanaticism. At Oxford, being a candidate for a chair, he was advised to write a thesis De Fide in Deanu qute et qualis sit, and raised the opposition of all his fulture colleagues, less by the scruples which he had shown of the method of comprehending God than because he had openly combated the dogmas of Calvinism. Pucci then went to Basle, and there made the acquaintance of Faustus Socinus, but a dispute that he had with him about the first man, and his ideas of universal mercy, exposed him anew to persecution. Exiled from Basle in 1578, he returned to London, where his opinions, too frankly expressed, caused him to be imprisoned. After his release, he tookl refuge in the Low Countries; but always studying, writing, and disputing, he did not find his halting- place until he reached Poland. At Cracow he encountered two Englishmen — John Dee and Edward Kelly, companions of John a Laski; they won Pucci to the study of occult science, and persuaded him that by familiar intercourse with spirits he would have the privilege of discovering much that was unknown. The attraction of the marvellous, and the novelty of the phenomena that John Dee seemed to control, were strong enough to attach Pucci for four years. The papal nuncio at Prague became acquainted with Pucci, and by his personal influence drew him into the bosom of the Romnish Church in 1586. In 1592 Pucci wrote a book dedicated to pope Clement VIII, under the title De Christi Salvatoris Efficacitate (Gouda, 1592). in which he used new arguments in support of the doctrine of the universal atonement as follows: "Christ having made an atonement for all men by his death, no other means are now necessary for salvation than those which are provided by natural religion, and not only those who bear the name of the Saviour, but all honest men, can be saved, even in paganism." The doctrine thus espoused was not likely to please the pontiff, though he was honored by the dedication, and Pucci was made so uncomfortable that in 1595 there came from him a public retraction of his preceding opinions. He then received sacerdotal ordination, and became secretary of cardinal Pompey, with whom he passed the last years of his life in peace. He died in 1600. He had composed the following couplet to be engraved upon his tomb:
"Inveni portum: spes et fortuna, valete! Nil mihi vobiscum, ludite nanc alios."
Some authors have asserted without proof that Pucci was sent to Rome and burned. See Universalist Quarterly, July, 1873, art. i; Ittig, De
Puccianismo; Schmid, Dr. F. Puccio in Naturalistis et Indifferentistis Redivivo (Lips. 1712, 4to); Bayle, Hist. Dict. s.v. (J. H. W.)