Rev. Gabriele Gionti, S.J.

Rev. Gabriele Gionti, S.J.

Vice-Director of the Vatican Observatory for Castel Gandolfo


Vice Director for Castel Gandolfo

Area of Research

Cosmology and Quantum Gravity


  • Masters in Physics – University of Naples Frederic II – 1993
  • Ph.D. Mathematical Physics – International School of Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy – 1998
  • B.A. Philosophy – Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy – 2004
  • M.Div/S.T.B. Theology – Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University (Berkeley, CA, USA) – 2010
  • S.T.L. Theology – Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University – 2010


  • Scientific Committee of the International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics (I.C.R.A.) – Representative of the Vatican Observatory
  • Italian Society in General Relativity and Gravitational Physics (S.I.G.R.A.V.) – Permanent member since 2014
  • National Institute for Nuclear Physics (I.N.F.N.) – Associate fellow at the National Laboratories in Frascati, Italy.


Fr. Gabriele Gionti SJ was born in 1967 in Capua, Italy. After high school, Gionti studied physics at the University of Naples Frederic II (where St. Thomas Aquinas once studied). Gionti graduated with a Masters degree in Physics in 1993. His main interests focused on high-energy physics, gravitational physics and mathematical physics.

In the fall of 1993, Gionti was admitted to the International School of Advanced Studies (S.I.S.S.A.-I.S.A.S.) of Trieste, Italy, in the Mathematical Physics Sector. During this time, he also spent a year of compulsory military service in the Italian Army (September 1994-September 1995). His thesis research was primarily concerned with discrete approaches to Quantum Gravity, in particular Dynamical Triangulations, Matrix Models and Local Regge Calculus. He was awarded with a Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics in 1998.

In 1999 he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of California at Irvine, continuing research in Discrete Quantum Gravity and studying the problem of the Quantum measure in Regge Calculus. He joined the Jesuits in his native Italy in 2000, starting his novitiate in Genoa, Italy. On September 2002 he was assigned to study philosophy at the Aloisianum Philosophical Institute of the Society of Jesus in Padua, Italy, which he finished In September 2004 with a B.A. in Philosophy from the Gregorian University.

In the fall 2004 he was assigned to the Vatican Observatory in Tucson, Arizona for two years, and worked as postdoctoral research affiliate at the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona. He continued his research in Discrete Quantum Gravity and extended his interests to Loop Quantum Gravity, in particular Spin Foam Models, and a possible formulation of discrete Superstring Theory.

He moved to Berkeley, California, in 2006 where he earned an M.Div/S.T.B. and an S.T.L. from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in 2010, when he was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest.

Since 2010, he has been a member of the staff of the Vatican Observatory, studying quantum gravity and string theory, including exploring the possibility of applying Local Regge Calculus to Spin Foam Formalism. He studied the possibility of writing a bosonic String Theory, which is manifestly T-Dualilty invariant. He also applied T-Duality (Busher Duality) to analyze the low energy limit of bosonic String Theory in the Gravity sector, showing that it can be written as an F(R) theory of gravity, which exhibits a duality invariance. He is in charge of a scientific collaboration between the Vatican Observatory and the theoretical division of CERN. He also organizes public conferences in sciences, and has appeared in the Italian T.V. series “space lab” addressing the issues of science and theology.

Research Interests

Theoretical cosmology uses Einstein’s general relativity as a mathematical description of the large scale structure of our universe. The problem is, how can one reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics, to produce quantum gravity? Connected to to this is the problem of the singularity in general relativity: the behavior of our universe in its very first moments (Planck time) according to the Big-Bang theory. We are working on theories of quantum gravity; this involves research into string theory, loop quantum gravity and quantum Regge calculus. String theory is a quantum gravity theory that unifies all the fundamental forces in nature through the hypothesis that the fundamental constituents of matter in nature are one-dimensional objects called “Strings”. Loop quantum gravity is a canonical quantization of general relativity, considering only the quantization of the gravitational field; it finds that the fundamental constituents of space-time, at the quantum level, are loops. Quantum Regge calculus is a quantum theory of gravity in which space-time is assumed discrete and quantized by a path integral.

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Salvatore Capozziello, GABRIELE GIONTI, Daniele Vernieri. (2015).  String Duality transformations in F(R) gravity from Noether Symmetry approach. arXiv:1508.00441.
  • Luca De Angelis, GABRIELE GIONTI, Franco Pezzella, Raffaele Marotta. (2014). Comparing Double String Theory Actions. JHEP 1404. ArXiv:1312.7367.
  • GABRIELE GIONTI (2013). Spin Foam and Regge Calculus. International Journal of Modern Physics: Conference Series. Vol.23 363-372.
  • GABRIELE GIONTI (2012). Some Considerations on Discrete Quantum Gravity. International Journal of Geometric Method in Physics. 09. ArXiv:1110.1575.