Though a formal list of Papal Astronomers is not available, there is, however, a long series of names of workers in astronomy at Rome, some of whom occupied positions in the Papal capital actually called by that name, with many others who merited it for the work they did with Papal aid and encouragement. A large number of astronomical investigators conducted their researches under the patronage of the Popes, often dedicated their books, with permission, to them, were frequently supported by Papal revenues and had their observatories supplied by the Papal government, or else they were in intimate relations with the Papacy and received every stimulus for their researches.

For special purposes, as the correction of the calendar, distinguished astronomers were summoned from long distances to Rome. At the Sapienza Papal University and later at the Roman College directly under the control of the Jesuits, but with the entire approval and constant effective good-will of the Popes, men of great distinction in astronomy and mathematics have frequently been professors. Some of the very greatest contributions to the science of astronomy have been issued not only with dedications to the Popes, as I have said, but not infrequently have been printed at the expense of the Holy See.

In the chapter on Papal Physicians I have suggested that no list of men connected by any bond in the history of medicine are so distinguished as the roll of the Papal Physicians. The faculty of no medical school, for instance, no matter how long it may be able to trace its history, contains so many distinguished names. This same thing might well be said of the list of men who have done distinguished work in astronomy whose names are in some way connected with the Papacy and whose relations to the Popes make it very clear that far from a determined course of opposition there was, on the contrary, a definite policy of encouragement and patronage for astronomical workers and that this greatly helped the diffusion of valuable scientific information with regard to the heavens and made the ecclesiastics of the world particularly interested in these important advances in human knowledge.

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


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