Celestial visions

One of the most important cultural centres of Rome of 1600 was Collegio Romano, the general house of Jesuits, founded by St. Ignatius de Loyola in 1534.

Collegio Romano
Collegio Romano

In a few decades Collegio Romano became the pole of attraction of all the most famous scientists of the time, and in 1611 it was there that Galileo discussed his theory, fresh of his success in Florence.

Galileo arrived in Rome on the 29th March. If the first day Jesuits led by Christophorus Clavius (the astronomer in charge for the Gregorian calendar) were skeptical, on the 1st April Galileo wrote “I have had a long discussion with Fr Clavius and two other most intelligent Fathers … We have found that our experiences tally in every respect …

The curriculum studiorum at Collegio Romano was

Concerning mathematics, the mathematician shall teach, in this order, the [first] six books of Euclid, arithmetic, the sphere [of Sacrobosco], cosmography, astronomy, the theory of the planets, the Alphonsine Tables, optics, and timekeeping. Only the second year philosophy students shall hear his lectures, but sometimes, with permission, also the students of dialectics.

It was the same Clavius in fact who translated Euclid and wrote a comment to Sacrobosco.

Stars, new and old, comets and planets were observed by the window of the building, until 1774 when an observatory was arranged in the Tower of the Church of Sant’Ignazio, in front of the very rooms where Galileo was judged by Jesuits’ neighbors, the Dominicans.

Collegio romano with its specola
Collegio romano with its specola

In 1873 the 45,000  books of Collegio Romano were attributed to Biblioteca Nazionale, where now are at a disposal of students and scholars.

A few copies of these books are now in  a free exhibition under the beautiful name of  “Celestial visions, science and reading of stars.”

Cellarius maps showed near a copy of the book
Cellarius maps showed near a copy of the book

These are some samples of the books I saw there, from the library of the first Jesuits at Collegio.

A manuscript with the birth chart of the Queen Christine of Sweden, patroness of Athanasius Kircher, one of Jesuits of Collegio Romano

the manuscript with Christina birth chart
the manuscript with Christina' birth chart

the modern chart cast with Solar Fire:


One thought on “Celestial visions

  1. Bello! Se riesco ci vado la prossima volta che vengo a Roma! Ciao!
    Ps ieri sono arrivata alle 11 e mi hanno detto che eri già passata. Ovviamente l’eurostar era in ritardo…grrr

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