List of Jesuit scientists

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Jesuit astronomers with Chinese Scholars in the 18th century

The Jesuits have made numerous significant contributions to the development of science. For example, they have dedicated significant study to earthquakes, and seismology has been described as "the Jesuit science."[1] The Jesuits have been described as "the single most important contributor to experimental physics in the seventeenth century."[2] According to Jonathan Wright in his book God's Soldiers, by the eighteenth century the Jesuits had "contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter's surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn's rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon affected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light."[3]

The Jesuit China missions of the 16th and 17th centuries introduced Western science and astronomy, then undergoing its own revolution, to China. One modern historian writes that in late Ming courts, the Jesuits were "regarded as impressive especially for their knowledge of astronomy, calendar-making, mathematics, hydraulics, and geography."[4] The Society of Jesus introduced, according to Thomas Woods, "a substantial body of scientific knowledge and a vast array of mental tools for understanding the physical universe, including the Euclidean geometry that made planetary motion comprehensible."[5] Another expert quoted by Woods said the scientific revolution brought by the Jesuits coincided with a time when science was at a very low level in China.

This is a list of Jesuit scientists, who contributed somehow to science. Members of the Society of Jesus have a historical and occasionally controversial role in the history of science. These are Jesuits who were notable scientists and were not required to be of any significance in discussing the relationship between religion and science. Also, included are fictional characters of Jesuit scientists in literature as well as historical people. It is chronologically arranged by date of death.

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]

  • Valentin Stansel (1621–1705), Czech astronomer in Brazil, who discovered a comet, which, after accurate positions were made via F. de Gottignies in Goa, became known as the Estancel-Gottignies comet
  • Georg Joseph Kamel (1661–1706), Czech missionary and botanist, the genus Camellia is named for him
  • Paolo Casati (1617–1707), Italian scientist, notable in meteorology and speculation on vacuums
  • Franz Reinzer (1661–1708), Austrian writer who wrote about comets, meteors, lightning, winds, fossils, and metals
  • Eusebio Kino (1645–1711) Trentino missionary, mathematician, cartographer and astronomer; drew maps based on his explorations first showing that California was not an island as was then believed; published an astronomical treatise in Mexico City based on his observations of the Kirsch Comet
  • Bartolomeu de Gusmão (1685–1724), Brazilian naturalist noted for developing the first working aerostats
  • Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri (1667–1733), Italian mathematician who was perhaps the first European to write about Non-Euclidean geometry
  • Tommaso Ceva (1648–1737), Italian mathematician and poet who wrote a work on geometry
  • Michel Benoist (1715–1774), missionary to China and scientist
  • Vincenzo Riccati (1707–1775), Italian mathematician and physicist
  • Giuseppe Asclepi (1706–1776), Italian astronomer
  • Christian Mayer (1719–1783), Czech astronomer known for his pioneering study of binary stars
  • Roger Joseph Boscovich (1711–1787), Ragusan Polymath famous for his atomic theory in part; also for devising perhaps the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position
  • João de Loureiro (1717–1791), Portuguese mathematician and botanist active in Cochinchina
  • Maximilian Hell (1720–1792), Hungarian director of the Vienna Observatory who wrote astronomy tables and observed the Transit of Venus
  • Ignacije Szentmartony (1718–1793), Croatian who obtained the title of royal mathematician and astronomer and used his astronomical knowledge in mapping parts of Brazil

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

21st century[edit]

Fictional Jesuits[edit]

The 'Jesuit scientist' has been used as a character of faith in several works of science fiction;[6] some examples include:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]