Page 13, 21st April 1939

21st April 1939
Page 13
Page 13, 21st April 1939 — Of Persons And Places

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Organisations: Society of Jesus
Locations: Vienna, Munich


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APRIEST and an astronomer : ergo, a Jesuit.. History might not, perhaps, lend full endorsement to that ;

but Fr. William O'Leary's death in the Antipodes is another case in point in proof of the very consider able part taken by the Society of Jesus in astronomical and geophysical science. From—shall we say?— Matteo Ricci, who found such knowledge a passport to Chinese favour, down to Fr. James Peter Rowland, looking upward to good effect in 1939 in Lancashire, a long list might be made of Jesuit astronomers.

No such list Abell be attempted here, but a few outstanding names call for mention in honours. Great among them is that of Fr. Angelo Beech', one of the Twelve Catholic Men of Science whom the late Sir Bertram Windle selected to be of that company. Fr. Secchi knew more than any other man about double stars. T. Fr. Christopher Scheiner and his assistant, Fr. J. B. Cysatus, we owe the discovery of sun-spots. Some other great Jesuit workers in the field were Fr. de Vico, a finder of comets; Fr. Maximilian Holl, famous In Vienna; Fr. Christian Mayer; Fr. Carl Braun; Fr. Christoph Ciau. These few may suffice to do justice to the Continent.

s'r * *

AT Stonyhurst, Fr. Rowland has had valued predecessors among past directors or other workers at the observatory. The late Fr. A. J. Cortie has not been gone from us so long that his cheery presence, whether as guide or platform lecturer, is out of mind with the elderly. Fr. Walter Sidgreaves. also : his is a name of note in Stonyhurst observational annals.

Likewise another distinguished worker from the same centre : Fr. Stephen Perry, Francis Thompson's " a starry amorist, starward gone." It was while engaged upon an astronomical expedition fifty years ago that Fr. Perry died, to find a distant grave in Demerara.

And while we are with Stonyhurst and its observatory, there must be a salute to Fr. Edward O'Connor, Fr. Rowland's immediate predecessor as Director. Fr. O'Connor relinquished astronomical tasks only to become Rector of the College until last year.

* * * *

GERMANY, one reads, is interesting herself in Danzig. Will that interest extend, next Sunday, his feast day, to Danzig's martyr? It would be a pity if Prussia, at any rate, should overlook its own apostle, St. Adalbert, in this his thousandth year. Poland, too, the other party to the political concern, holds a claim to the saint, seeing that he was for a time one of that country's bishops; so she, likewise, should honour the rrrlllenary.

Adalbert was not always Adalbert. His was one of the cases of taking another man's good name, yet only in such wise that an act of affection lay In the taking. He had studied at Magdeburg under that famous Archbishop Adalbert, apostle of the Slays, who also is among the saints. In homage to the recollection, he assumed his master's name and in missionary activity followed in his footsteps. A martyr to pagan fury at Danzig, he proved, in death, literally worth his weight in gold, if we may believe the statement that a Prince of Poland ransomed his body for an equivalent weight of the precious metal.

A heavenly conference, on April 23, between St. Adalbert and St. George, should do more than Munich did towards an Anglo-German understanding!

BUCKFAST Abbey has now the distinction of having supplied subjectmatter to the religious drama. Lieut.Colonel Francis Bowen, persevering in his good work as a Catholic playwright, makes the Devonshire house, its suppression and its restoration, the theme of his latest piece for the stage. An entirely sympathetic stage, it need hardly be said, is in mind; for at the close of the performance there is unity of heart and voice between both sides of the footlights, all joining In a fervent Magnifirat in thanksgiving for what Buckfast has to show us to-day.

Colonel Bowen's plays would by now, as the saying is, fill a volume. His is a craftsmanship which in this matter has gone partly to holding up, upon the stage, great figures of faith and courage from history : St. Thomas More, St. Joan of Arc, Philip of Arundel; partly to the making of Miracle plays: " Emmanuel " and " The Three Kings." In dramatising Buckfast he writes of a place he knows well, since his residence is within sound of the Abbey bells. Nearly twenty years ago, when serving

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