I am pleased to announce a new addition to the Faith & Science Resource Center here at VaticanObservatory.org. It is another book for younger readers, about a scientist—the astronomer Fr. Angelo Secchi, S.J., “Father of Astrophysics”.
The book is called And Angelo Secchi Prayed: Faith and Astronomy illuminating the way to Truth. The purpose of the Faith & Science pages is to provide information that can lead you to good resources, so sometimes the resources listed just include an excerpt of the work featured. However, sometimes the entire work is freely available; that is the case with this book.
The book is aimed at younger readers, but it will probably be of interest to many readers of all ages. It started with the work of one of the Vatican Observatory’s Adjunct Scholars: Ileana Chinnici. Her 2019 book, Decoding the Stars: A Biography of Angelo Secchi, Jesuit and Scientist received the 2021 Osterbrock Prize from the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society (click here for details). It also caught the attention of my wife, Christina (Tina) Graney.
Tina thought that Secchi’s story was one that could appeal to younger readers. I have been working on building up material for younger readers in the Faith & Science pages, and she has been helping me with that. Together we have read a lot of books. We have not, however, found large numbers of suitable books for the Faith & Science Resource Center: material for younger readers that involves science and faith is very scarce.
But “scarce” is not the same as “non-existent”—click here for the younger readers entries of the Faith & Science pages. We are going to be featuring these entries on Sacred Space Astronomy regularly for at least a few months. You may have noticed the “Girl Who Drew Butterflies” feature last month.
Thus Tina began working on a younger readers’ version of Secchi’s story. She imagined Fr. Secchi praying his way through both scientific discoveries and political turmoil in nineteenth century Italy. She worked on the idea on and off, but the Astronomy for Catholics in Ministry and Education conference in Tucson this past January provided her with the impetus to concentrate on getting the book finished. Dr. Chinnici then graciously agreed to write a Foreword for the book. And now it is available on the Faith & Science pages (click here for it).
This book is an effort at something new. Not just new to the Faith & Science Resource Center, but new, period. It is a book about a scientist, about science, and about how science is done. It is a book that lets a scientist talk about faith—Secchi’s own words are a focus of the book. This is the second such book produced specifically for the Resource Center—the first being Antony van Leeuwenhoek: Seeing God’s Perfect Work through a Microscope.
Check out And Angelo Secchi Prayed: Faith and Astronomy illuminating the way to Truth in the Faith & Science pages. You can read it for free in electronic format. If you want a print copy, you can get that, too. Thanks to the marvels of “Print-on-Demand” technology, you can choose an inexpensive paperback version, a somewhat pricier (but still pretty cheap) glossy hardback version, or even a glossy color version that is especially nice as a gift for a younger reader! But all three versions are really nice.
Let me know what you think about the book.