“Starry-eyed” Nuns Recognized

All through history women religious have often been recognized for their attention to detail in carrying out all nature of tasks. So, it’s fitting that the Vatican recently recognized four Sisters of the Holy Child Mary for their work in a global effort to create a “Celestial Map” of the stars in the early 1900s. The Vatican was one of about 18 observatories that spent decades taking thousands of glass-plate photographs with their telescopes and cataloging data for this massive project. Pope Leo XIII wanted the Holy See to participate in the effort to show that the “Church supported science”.

Known for their diligence, Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi and Luigia Panceri mapped and cataloged nearly a half a million stars in a specific slice of the sky. While the project was quickly eclipsed by huge technological developments in surveying stars, modern scientists found that the project provided valuable information about star locations.

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*accompanying photo courtsey of CNS/Vatican Observatory

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