Cincinat I. Sfinţescu was born on September 14th 1887 to Ioan G. Sfinţescu and his wife Maria, née Vasilescu, at Slatina, in a numerous family. The Sfinţescu family had at least seven children (ten, according to other sources). Both Cincinat Sfinţescu’s grandparents had been priests.His father, Ioan G. Sfinţescu, was born at Roşiorii de Vede in 1850. Starting from 1862, he attended the courses of the Central Seminar in Bucharest, graduating in 1866. Following a one-year intermission during which he worked as a clerk at Roşiori City Hall, he enrolled in “Carol I” Normal School which he graduated in 1870, within the first series of graduates. After a few years of working as a teacher in a village in Teleorman County (1870-1874) and as a substitute teacher in a school in Drăgăşani (1874-1875), he settled down in Slatina for a longer period of time (13 years, 1875-1888), where he became a school principal, without abandoning his teaching career. After a short “exile” in Zimnicea, he transferred to Bucharest in 1888. There, he worked in several schools, ending his career as the principal of “Malmaison” School (1894-1900), where he enrolled his son, Cincinat, before he transferred to Sf. Sava and Gheorghe Lazăr high schools. After retirement, I. G. Sfinţescu returned to Slatina, continuing his activity by holding public functions (in 1914 he was member of the General Council of Olt County; it is from this position that he drew up proposals for municipal regulations). Towards the end of his life he was awarded with the Order Coroana României and Răsplata Muncei Second Class.
Ioan G. Sfinţescu started his writing career by publishing geography textbooks for primary school use about Teleorman County (1879) and Olt County (four editions, the last one in 1892). This series reached its highest point with Dicţionarul Geografic al Judeţului Olt (The Geographical Dictionary of Olt County) (1895), which he co-authored. The volume, awarded by the Romanian Geographical Society, is part of the series of county dictionaries elaborated during the last decade of the XIXth century, forming the basis of the monumental synthesis entitled Marele Dicţionar Geografic al României (The Great Geographical Dictionary of Romania) (1898-1902, 5 volumes).
Among Cincinat Sfinţescu’s brothers, at least two had remarkable scientific careers: Tiberiu, railroad engineer, and Septimiu, radiologist.
Tiberiu Sfinţescu preceded his brother Cincinat at the National School for Bridges and Roads in Bucharest, which he graduated in 1905, after being awarded the “Vasile Adamachi” scholarship, like his brother. He spent his entire career at Căile Ferate Române (the Romanian Railroad Company), where he worked as chief engineer, inspector, director of the regional section (at Braşov) and general control inspector.Septimiu Sfinţescu studied Medicine at Bonn before joining as a sanitary soldier and military doctor in the Second Balkan War (1913) and the First World War (1916). One of the founders of the Romanian school of radiology, one of the leaders of Revue Médicale Roumaine, he was appointed general technical sanitary inspector in 1941. He died in 1980.
Duiliu Sfinţescu (1909-2000), Tiberiu Sfinţescu’s son, was an engineer who studied in Berlin, held a diploma in two Engineering branches and a Ph.D. He came back to the country in 1934, becoming an active militant of the Legionary Movement and Corneliu Zelea Codreanu’s personal secretary. Being exiled starting from 1941, he developed an extraordinary professional activity in the field of construction engineering, as director of the research department of Centre Technique Industriel de la Construction Métallique in Paris, president of the quarterly publication Construction métallique, president of the professional organization Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (1976-1979), permanent representative to UNESCO and president of the committee on “Disaster Reduction” within the organization. He was awarded the title Doctor Honoris Causa by the Tehnical University in Aachen (1973) and by the Construction Institute in Bucharest (1992).
The succession of the generations of the Sfinţescu family perfectly illustrates the transformations of the Romanian intellectual world over the past two centuries: from the rural intellectual sphere of the first half of the XIXth century (the double ascendance of the village priests) to the elite of the provincial towns from the end of the century becoming relevant at the national scale (Ioan G. Sfinţescu), continuing with the generation of professionals, educated at home or abroad, who returned in order to create the framework for scientific modernisation and to shape an elite professional body (Cincinat, Tiberiu and Septimiu Sfinţescu) and ending with the exile generation having top achievements in the Western world and late (or posthumous) national recognition (Duiliu Sfinţescu).