It is sometimes assumed in the modern time, and it used to be the custom a generation ago for nearly everyone in English-speaking countries to assume, that because we knew very little about science in the medieval period it must be because there was very little to know. We have learned the fallacy of that supposition to our cost, by the republication of the great text-books of medicine and surgery of the medieval period and by the deeper study of such great scholars as Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas. Even the scanty records that we have show us the Popes following the same sort of policy with regard to education and science as at the present time. Men who collected scientific information for academic or popular diffusion, as Isidore of Seville, Albertus Magnus, Thomas of Aquin, were not infrequently raised to ecclesiastical dignities during life and placed among the saints after death. Occasionally a distinguished scientist like Gerbert, who became Pope Sylvester II, or Petrus Hispanus the well-known physician, who became Pope John XXI, were even made Popes. It is easy to understand that their attitude as Supreme Pontiffs towards science would be not only not one of opposition but of sympathy and helpful patronage.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)


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