Are there scientists in the Catholic Church?
In fact, there are. Here in this article, we try to uncover and list them.
Father Michal Heller
Professor in the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland
In March 2008, Heller was awarded the $1.6 million (£820,000) John Templeton Foundation Prize, for his extensive philosophical and scientific probing of “big questions.” His works have sought to reconcile the “known scientific world with the unknowable dimensions of God.”
Monseigneur Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître
Monseigneur Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître, was a Belgian priest, astronomer and professor of physics at the French section of the Catholic University of Leuven. Fr. Georges Lemaître, a Belgian priest, physicist, and mathematician, first proposed the Big Bang Theory for the birth of the universe.
He is usually credited with the first definitive formulation of the idea of an expanding universe and what was to become known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, which Lemaître himself called his “hypothesis of the primeval atom” or the “Cosmic Egg”.
Father Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175-1253)
Educated in theology and began teaching at Oxford University. Historians of science claim that Robert was the founder of the scientific movement at Oxford University.
Born of humble parents at Stradbroke in Suffolk. A. C. Crombie (an Australian historian of science), calls him “the real founder of the tradition of scientific thought in medieval Oxford, and in some ways, of the modern English intellectual tradition”.
Ignazio Danti (1536-1586)
In 1574, he made a set of important observations that found the equinox to be 11 days earlier than the calendar. Is renowned for his skills as an astronomer. Left his real mark as a cartographer.
Perfected the rado latino, a surveying instrument, and he crafted designs for a canal across Italy that would link the Adriatic and Mediterranean through Florence
Marin Mersenne (1588-1648)
History remembers him most, however, for his work in mathematics, especially the so-called Mersenne primes and his effort to find a formula that would represent all prime numbers.
Jean-Felix Picard (1620-1682)
Earned the title of founder of modern astronomy in France.
Introduced new methods for watching the stars and improved and developed new scientific instruments.
Provided an accurate measure of the size of the Earth through a survey conducted 1669-1670.
He was honored in 1935 by having a moon crater named after him.
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
Hailed as the father of modern genetics.
Attributed the discovery of dominant or recessive genes, a key to modern genetics and the study of dominant and recessive traits, genotype and phenotype, and the concept of heterozygous and homozygous.
He was so ahead of his time that science did not recognize his contribution until early in the 20th century.
Julius Nieuwland (1878-1936)
He was concerned with practical solutions in his field of chemistry.
This humble priest was the inventor of the first synthetic rubber.
He was given the Morehead Medal for research in acetylene, the American Institute Medal, and the Nichols Medal, the highest honor of the American Chemical Society.
Stanley Jaki (b. 1924)
Earned the Templeton Prize and in 1990 was named to the Pontifical Academy of Science by Pope John Paul II.
The Benedictine priest Stanley Jaki has argued with great eloquence that science itself could develop only in a Christian culture.
Earned doctorates in Systematic Theology and Nuclear Physics, is fluent in five languages, and has authored 30 books.
Other Scientists of the Church
St. Bede, the Venerable (d. 735) An Anglo-Saxon priest, historian, biblical scholar, and one of the greatest of all chroniclers of the Middle Ages. Aside from his historical writings, he was the author of On Time and On the Reckoning of Time.
Pope Sylvester II (d. 1003) A pontiff and scientist who promoted mathematics and astronomy in the Church’s schools.
Hermannus Contractus (d. 1054) A monk and author of works on geometry, mathematics, and the astrolabe.
Pope John XXI (d. 1277) A pontiff and author of an influential work on medicine prior to his election.
St. Albertus Magnus (d. 1280) One of the greatest theologians in the history of the Church and the patron saint of scientists. He is called Universal Doctor.
Roger Bacon (d. 1294) An English Franciscan who helped to establish the laws of nature and wrote on geography, mechanics, and optics. He is honored as the “Amazing Doctor”.
Theodoric of Freiberg (d. c. 1310) A member of the Dominicans best known for explaining the rainbow in On the Rainbow.
Thomas Bradwardine (d. 1349) English archbishop who helped advance the principles of mechanics. He is honored as the Profound Doctor.
Nicole Oresme (d. 1382) French philosopher, bishop of Lisieux, and mathematician. He wrote on economics, mathematics, and the natural sciences, and his studies with Jean Buridan of moving bodies foreshadowed the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Copernicus.
Nicholas of Cusa (d. 1464) A German theologian, humanist, mystic, expert in canon law, and a cardinal, he also made contributions to the field of mathematics by developing the concepts of the infinitesimal and of relative motion. His philosophical speculations also anticipated Copernicus’ heliocentric worldview.
Bl. Nicolas Steno (d. 1686) A convert from Lutheranism, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987. He brought advances in the areas of anatomy, geology, and paleontology.
Bl. Francesco Faà di Bruno (d. 1888) An Italian priest and spiritual writer who made immense contributions to mathematics, including a famous formula. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
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