Field of Science

Patron Saints

So during a particularly long session, with fairly crucial results, I did a bit of a google to see if there was anyone that the Catholic church, in its infinate wisdom, had put aside to recieve the various prayers and obscinities coming from those persuing the noble discipline of science. It turns out (interestingly enough) that there is:


The rather imposing man pictured above is Saint Albert the Great (1206-1280). The official Patron Saint of science. Also known as (according to saints.SPQN.com) Albertus Magnus, Doctor Expertus and Doctor Universalis. My hazy grasp of Latin seems to suggest the last one may be a tad over the top for philosophy teacher who liked browsing science books but there you go. To my amazement, there is also a little prayer to say to him:

Dear Scientist and Doctor of the Church, natural science always led you to the higher science of God. Though you had an encyclopedic knowledge, it never made you proud, for you regarded it as a gift of God. Inspire scientists to use their gifts well in studying the wonders of creation, thus bettering the lot of the human race and rendering greater glory to God. Amen

For someone known as the 'Doctor Universalis' I'm not entirely sure if the 'never made you proud' bit scans wonderfully well. Also the prayer is not as specific as could be hoped. Albert the Great make this bloody gel work feels slightly more appropriate. And while my phages may hopefully one day end up bettering the human race (heh) I'm not entirely sure how they bring glory to god (would phages be able to pray, if taught? Could they destroy bacteria in a particularly holy way?). I am quite surprised though, that he turned up, I wasn't expecting there to be anyone specific for science, if anything I was expecting this guy:


Thomas Aquinus, patron saint of students and academics. A quick bit of googling also confirms that he is the patron saint against storms, against lightning, of apologists, of chastity and (for reasons best known to himself) of pencil-makers. He has a lot more alternative names as well: Angelic Doctor, Doctor Angelicus (the same thing but in Latin, surely?), Doctor Communis, Great Synthesizer (there should be something funny to say about this one, can't think of it though), The Universal Teacher and, rather bizarrely, The Dumb Ox.

I love the catholic Saints. They are like the old polytheistic gods (except a lot less interesting) and there seems to be one for almost anything you care to think of.

2 comments:

Toby said...

Pencil making and students sort of fit together... maybe.

Sara Harsley said...

Actually Saint Albertus Magnus was a pretty cool guy. He was a prolific writer and observer of zoology, botany, chemistry, and geology among others. He was noted amongst the early Catholic church for encouraging scientific theory and the teachings of Aristotle,Arabian scientists such as Averoes, etc. at a time when this was considered very controversial. He was also Thomas Aquinus' teacher.