Vatican City. According to countryaah, the current population of Holy See is 812. Pope Francis’s three guiding stars – mercy, the global role of the church and ecumenism – were manifested in action in 2016, the year the Pope had previously declared a holy year in the sign of mercy. The global role of the Church has been highlighted through the Pope’s involvement in the war in Syria and also reflected in this year’s cardinal appointments.
We saw the ecumenical engagement in Sweden when Pope visited Lund at the end of October to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. It became a historical moment in Lund’s cathedral when the ecumenically minded pope and the chairman of the Lutheran World Federation signed pledges of cooperation and friendship in a joint document.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the 3-letter abbreviation of VAT stands for the nation of Vatican in geography.
Later in the fall, the Pope also put his word behind the Catholic Church’s role in world politics as he named new cardinals from countries that the Pope himself calls “the Church’s peripheries,” small, remote states with few Catholics such as Mauritius, New Guinea and Malaysia.
Even in cases where the pope chooses to appoint Italians as cardinals, he often finds his favorites far from traditional places of recruitment, such as the big cities’ archbishop’s seats. The same happened at the 2016 appointments when the Vatican’s diplomat in Syria, Mario Zenari, was elevated to cardinal for his almost ten-year deed in the war-torn country. It is not common for cardinals to be picked up by the nunties, the Catholic Church diplomats.
Pope Francis’s involvement in world politics has his focus on countries at war and on the victims of the war and coincides with a view where he has resembled the church at a field hospital that is supposed to work among the people. Francis’ strong emphasis on compassion has in some cases led to misunderstandings, where the Pope, in the sign of mercy, may have seemed to deviate from the Catholic Church’s proper teaching. This applies, for example, to the pope’s decision to extend the right he gave priests to give to women who have done the forgiveness of sins during the holy year. However, the Pope’s gesture of pity does not mean that he has weighted one inch from the Church’s tenet that abortion is a serious sin.
The conservative establishment of the Catholic Church has nothing to worry about as far as the Pope’s doctrinal cleanliness is concerned. However, he has caused great concern in the papal administration, the Curia. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in March 2013, the Vatican was shaken by corruption scandals, and the new pope’s first task was to clean up the morass. A year after taking office, an action plan on the table was devoted to ending corruption and money laundering within the church’s financial system. The reforms that the Pope has so far carried out are considered so pervasive that the backward forces in the Vatican’s government that thought they could bid their time may have already lost the game.
The foundation of the Vatican Observatory is closely linked with the reform of the calendar, established by the bull Inter gravissimas of Gregory XIII. About 1579 the pope had a 73 meter high tower built in the Vatican, now called the “Tower of the winds” or “Gregorian”. Inside, in the so-called room of the Calendar, where the sundial built by Ignazio Danti is, the discussions of the astronomers convened on that occasion were held and it was demonstrated to the Supreme Pontiff that the equinox fell at that time around eleven of March.
Having achieved the main purpose of the observatory with the reform of the calendar, it gradually began to decline. In 1784 Cardinal FS de Zelada proposed to reactivate it, but G. Calandrelli dissuaded him due to the inappropriate position of the tower. In the year 1789 Msgr. FL Gilii made it a center for meteorological studies on the climate of Rome; but after the death of Gilii (1821) the observatory declined again. It was revived in 1888, when, on the occasion of the priestly jubilee of Leo XIII, the members of the Italian clergy who were lovers of science offered the pope a collection of scientific instruments. At the proposal of Fr. F. Denza, Barnabite, president of the committee, the instruments were placed in the Gregorian Tower and the pope wanted the ancient observatory to be resurrected under the direction of Denza himself; Ut mysticam of March 14, 1891. In the international congress of the photographic map of the sky held in Paris in 1889, Denza in the name of the pope proposed and obtained that the nascent institute take part in that grandiose work. The declination zone from + 55 ° to + 64 ° was assigned to the Vatican Observatory. To accomplish this task, a photographic equatorial measuring 34 cm was placed in the more than millenary Torre Leonina, on the summit of the Vatican Hill. opening and 3.43 m. focal distance, and the photographic work was entrusted to Fr. G. Lais of the Oratory. With the death of Denza (1894), the Lais remained in the management as deputy director until 1898, when Fr. A. Rodriguez, Augustinian. The first publications were mostly of a meteorological nature.
Under the direction of the third director, Fr. JG Hagen (1906-1930), the observatory was completely reorganized and, with meteorology removed from the program, it became purely astronomical. In 1921 the work to measure the plates for the astrographic catalog was completed and in 1928 the printing of 10 volumes of this was completed, containing about 500,000 positions and sizes of stars. The seat of the observatory from the Gregorian Tower was transferred to the villa of Leo XIII in the Vatican gardens; on the tower, against which the cottage stands, a visual equatorial of 40 cm was mounted. opening and 6 m. of focal distance. While the Lais continued the photographic work, the Hagen continued that of the atlas of variable stars; together he devised and performed new mechanical tests of the rotation of the Earth with the isotomeograph and with Anvood’s machine; and with the visual equatorial he made a special study of the bright and dark nebulae. Various publications followed one another, of which the most important are: Stellar Colors (1911), La rotation de la Terre, ses preuves anciennes et nouvelles (1911), Die veränderlichen Sterne (1921), A Preparatory Catalog for a Durchmusterung of Nebulae (1927), The General Catalog (1928), e, posthumous, Review of the Dark Nebulae (1931).
Meanwhile, the expansion of Rome and the growing nocturnal illumination of the sky made the situation of the observatory critical, and a new transfer had to be considered. Pius XI therefore in 1931 generously offered the pontifical palace of Castel Gandolfo where he wanted to install an entirely new observatory with very modern instruments. The inauguration took place on September 29, 1935.
The main instruments of the new observatory are: a visual equatorial with an opening of 40 cm. and focal length of 6 m. and a double astrograph, composed of a camera with a 40 cm objective. and focal length of 2 m. and a mirror of 60 cm. and focal length of 2.40 m. Two wire micrometers and a wedge photometer belong to the visual equipment; to that of the astrograph a reticle and two objective prisms, an astrograph with one or three prisms, applicable to the Cassegrain focus. The furnishings are completed by various instruments for photometry and plate measurement.
An astrophysics laboratory for spectral research is attached to the specola. The main instruments are: a large spectrograph from Steinheil (Munich), another from the Halle company (Berlin), a third from Zeiss (Jena), a recording microfotometer from Zeiss.
The program of the observatory includes: the study of the structure of the Milky Way; photography of stellar clouds; classification of the spectra obtained with an objective prism; determination of the color indices; assessment of the distances of stellar clouds, taking into account interstellar absorption.
Furthermore, the publication of the Celestial Charter, suspended for several years, continues and volume 9 of the Atlas Stellarum Variabilium is being prepared.
The laboratory program particularly includes the spectral examination of meteorites, of which the specola has a very rich collection due to the generosity of the Marquis of Mauroy. To facilitate this research, two atlases of the extended spectrum of iron have already been published: one of the scintillating spectrum, in 13 plates, the other of the arc spectrum, in 21 plates. An atlas of the last lines of different elements is in preparation.