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Other Items and Jesuit Trivia

Jesuits on the Moon

Long before novelist Mary Doria Russell sent the Society to outer space in her novel "The Sparrow," Jesuits were on the moon--at least their names were. According to Joseph McDonnell, SJ, the International Astronomical Union has recently codified lunar nomenclatura eliminating conflicts and duplications. The new list has 35 lunar craters named after Jesuits: 10 Italians, 6 Germans, 5 French, 3 Hungarians, 2 Swiss, 2 Austrians, 2 Belgians, and one each from Croatia, Holland, Spain, Scotland, and the US.

For centuries the basic map used for lunar nomenclatura was the one drawn in 1645 by Jesuit optician Francesco Grimaldi (1613-1663). Grimaldi's map includes crater names invented by fellow Jesuit Giovanni Riccioli. Riccioli's assignment of some of the brightest craters to Copernicans--Kepler, Galileo, Lansberg, and Copernicus himself--has always been a bit of a puzzle, since as a Jesuit, Riccioli staunchly upheld the doctrine of a fixed and central earth. He claimed to have flung the heliocentrists into the Sea of Storms (Oceanus Procellarum), but some wonder if he did not reveal here a secret fondness for the Copernican doctrine, especially since he named two nearby craters Grimaldus and Ricciolus, while other Jesuit astronomers were assigned to craters in the south, surrounding Tycho.

A first printing of the Grimaldi/Riccioli map can be found in the special collections of Woodstock Theological Center Library, Georgetown University. [Source: News & Features; Linda Hall Library, Kansas City, Mo.]

Name that Sea Shell

"Agaronia Jesuitarum" is the officially registered name of a type of shell found by Jesuits on the Nicaraguan beaches.

Historical Tidbit

When Teresa of Avila's reform of the Carmelites had begun, one of the Jesuits was sent up from Rome to inspect the workings of the new convents. He was due to come to a particular convent, and the young abbess (who might have been her niece), wrote to Teresa, asking her how she should comport herself with the Jesuit priest. Should she be cool and distant?

Teresa responded, "You should by all means make every effort to welcome him. We need their support if our reforms are ever going to be approved by Rome. Make up questions to ask him, as that is what they like ..." [400 years later, it's STILL true!]

Documents from the 35th General Congregation of the Jesuits, January - March 2008.

Links to the official text of the Decrees.


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