A hundred years before Galileo’s time Copernicus went down to Italy to study astronomy and medicine, and when his book was published it was dedicated to a Pope. Copernicus himself was a faithful churchman all his life, came near being made a bishop once, and kept the diocese in which he lived, and in which his personal friend was bishop, in the fold of the Church in spite of Luther and the religious revolt all around it in Germany. One of the great scientists of the seventeenth century whose name is stamped deeply on the history of science, Father Kircher, the Jesuit, was invited to Rome the very year after Galileo’s condemnation, and for thirty years continued to experiment and write in all branches of science, not only with the approbation of his own order, the Jesuits, which helped him in every way by the collection of specimens for his museum, but also with the hearty good will of many cardinals who were his personal friends, and with the constant patronage of the Popes, whose generous liberality enabled him to make Rome the greatest centre of scientific interest during this century.

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


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