Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Astronomers, X-ray crystallographers, Apothecaries, and Saints

(From Claudio Coello, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Saint Dominic, patron of: astronomers; astronomy; Dominican Republic; falsely accused people; Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico, U.S.A.; Valletta and Birgu, Malta; and Managua, Nicaragua.)

I ran into the names of a few patron saints while researching a post that's due Friday morning:
I didn't find a patron Saint of meteorologists, or molecular biologists, for that matter. I don't think that shows that the Church is against meteorologists or molecular biologists, though.

Now that I think about it, I don't know of a patron Saint of X-ray crystallographers either. Röntgen discovered X-rays, and there weren't any molecular biologists before the 1930s.

Aristotle wrote "Meteorology" about 2,350 years back, and folks were making systematic observations from the 1400s, at least: but  meteorology didn't take off until around the 1600s or 1700s, depending on who you listen to.

We've got at least a half-dozen patron Saints of physicians, including St. Luke the Evangelist. He's got a rather large portfolio: he's also patron of artists, surgeons, students and — I am not making this up — butchers; and several other occupations.

I think the explanation is that "physician" is an occupation that's changed over the millennia, but which predates ancient civilizations like Sumer.

Folks haven't been meteorologists for more than a few centuries, tops: and nobody was a molecular biologist, computer programmer, or nuclear physicist, until a few decades back.

Given time, I'm pretty sure that someone one of those job titles will be recognized as a Saint: and may wind up as patron saint of one or more of those disciplines.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences includes several molecular biologists, and that's another topic:
By the way — maybe you heard that Saint Dominic was the first Inquisitor. That would be quite a trick, since Dominic de Guzmán had been dead for 10 years when the office of the Inquisitior started in Lombardy, and that's yet another topic. Topics. (July 22, 2012; September 19, 2011)

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