More Catholic scientists

A friend of mine wanted to go to an exhibit in Amsterdam which is showing works of Vermeer. The organizer of the exhibit says that Vermeer used light in his paintings in a unique way, that stemmed from Vermeer’s connection with the Jesuits in his neighborhood. (!) The tickets for this exhibition are sold out so she can’t go. But she asked me what I knew about Jesuit scientists.

I know there are lots of them and, in Vermeer’s time, Grimaldi stands out. But in the course of investigating for my friend, I went to the Vatican website and found lots of people I never heard of. Many are connected to people in my book. I’ve quoted a few stories below.

Johannes Grueber (1623-1680) was a Jesuit priest, missionary, mathematician and astronomer at the Chinese imperial court from 1659 to 1661. He returned to Europe from China by the overland route and published the very first travelogue describing Tibet.”

Karel Slavíček (1678-1735), Jesuit missionary and scientist was the first Czech sinologist. Together with Ignatius Kegler he went to China in 1716. He worked on astronomy, mathematics and music and prepared maps of Beijing in 1718 and 1728.”

János Sajnovics (1733-1785) was a Hungarian linguist and Jesuit. He is best known for his pioneering work in comparative linguistics, particularly his systematic demonstratation of the relationship between Sami and Hungarian. (That is Finnish and Hungarian …) Sajnovics was a pupil of the astronomer and mathematician Maximilian Hell.”

Gyula Fényi (1845-1927) was a Hungarian Jesuit and astronomer. A most prolific observer of solar phenomena, his 32-year continuous series of prominence observations with the same instrument is unique. Fényi was the first to demonstrate a correlation between the numbers of solar prominences and sunspots.

Giovanni Battista Zupi or Zupus (c.1590–1650) was an Italian astronomer, mathematician, and Jesuit priest. In 1639, he was the first person to discover that the planet Mercury showed orbital phases, like those of the Moon and Venus.” (Orbital phases for the inner planets were predicted by Copernicus but not found until Galileo made really good telescopes. Galileo himself reported on the phases of Venus)

Here is an extremely simple introduction to Vermeer. Two days ago I had a better website which I can’t find now!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s