21 December 1930
The Structure of the Universe Illustrates
the Infinite Wisdom of the Law-giver
Address to Inaugurate the Academic Year of the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences ‘New Lynxes’
The Pope declares that love for science forms a part of his ministry and stresses that science and faith provide each other with mutual support and aid. He also observes that the structure of the universe illustrates the infinite wisdom of the Law-giver. He emphasises his participation in the work of the Academy and refers also to the new Vatican radio station.
The Holy Father began by first observing that thanks from his beloved sons and Academicians were not due to him, but rather thanks were due from him to them because he was always amongst them and with them, unfortunately at great intervals apart, with great willingness on his part and even more with great satisfaction and pleasure.
He said ‘unfortunately at great intervals apart’ because they really seemed to him great intervals apart, and he with regret allowed them to be prolonged in this way, whereas he would have liked, instead, to be with them more frequently. Indeed, every time the Pope was amongst his Academicians he seemed to be no longer in breathable air, since, thanks to Divine Goodness, the air in which his life and activity took place was always most breathable; but it was yet different from that air of pure scientific splendours, of love for science, of care and interest for science, of the Academicians; a love and interest, however, that could not in any way be excluded from a ministry such as that of the Pope: completely for souls. Indeed, what would be love for souls without love for science, for that science which is not pure science but science for truth, science that illuminates (as indeed it may be said) truth, science which receives so many powerful forms of help from the Faith, and almost in exchange offers so much support to the Faith itself, as is known by those who are little learned, as is known, above all else, by those, such as scientists, who have studied so much? This they should well in particular understand, since to their most infinite investigations was revealed the wisdom of God the Creator, of God the Law-giver: that immense equally admirable wisdom, which both traces the trajectory of the astral spheres, of immense worlds, and, perhaps even more, which conceals, in the mystery of the infinitely small atoms, the wonders of so great, so precise, and so constant laws, such that one can really say that nothing that we see and which imposes itself on our sight by grandeur of scale, nothing that escapes our sight because of its infinite smallness and habitual unfathomable hiding, nothing escapes an admirable law, indeed a network of laws which on its own is enough to illustrate not only the existence but also the infinite wisdom of the Law-giver.
For this reason, given the August Pontiff was amongst his sons, he really seemed to be able to cast off for the moment daily concerns and responsibilities and engage in a certain new great ascension, so much did they lead him upwards, to an elevated, splendid, incommensurable, atmosphere. In saying this he wanted to say how pleased he was within himself to be able to be periodically amongst those scholars, following where he was able their deliberations, appreciating the feelings that were expressed to him by their, indeed, his, Academy. This equally bore witness to his shared participation in their mournings, their joys, their glories: grave and really (at least in part) irreparable mournings, but which Divine Goodness had wanted to compensate for: for example, through dear Father Stein who had gone immediately to continue the work of his beloved dear brother, of such dear memory, Father Hagen, and to restore activity and voice (this had been announced a little earlier) to the Vatican Observatory. Nor, therefore, did His Holiness doubt that yet further acquisitions, increasingly beautiful and valuable, would be added to his valued Academy.
His dear Father Gianfranceschi had congratulated the Pope on what Divine Goodness had allowed him to do in one direction or another, and the Pope was really full of gratitude towards this Divine Goodness which had allowed him to give, after a certain fashion, a new and worthy seat to studies, to scientific investigations, in this his small or great State, as is said, and to have bestowed upon it things really advantageous in the field of science, such as the new telephone system and the new radio station. Indeed, in this regard, he was that much more happy to be able that day to point out to the Academy the welcome guest of that inaugural sitting: he meant Marquess Guglielmo Marconi, to whose studies, to whose care, to whose completely special commitment was owed that most beautiful radio station. The Pope had reason to be especially happy about it because of the special and important services that it could render the Holy See and specifically the government of the Catholic Church, but in addition because of those that it could render to the Academy and scientific activity, and Father Stein and Father Gianfranceschi were already very pleased when they thought of the happiness with which the voice of the Vatican Observatory could made itself heard by other observatories and take part in shared worldwide work.
These very beautiful observations well enabled those dear sons to understand with what feelings the August Pontiff saw that new year of their scientific activity open, an activity which offered the Holy Father such delicate and valuable fruits, such as those which Prof. Angelis d’Ossat had presented him with and promised in that geological analysis of the subsurface of his City of the Vatican, and in those cautiously and authoritatively expressed hopes that the Pope would at some time be in possession of a good local water supply; something that conformed to one of his wishes and to research which had not as yet born fruit, but which he would ensure would be begun again with renewed energy.
The Holy Father ended his address by expressing feelings and good wishes of every blessing for the noble scientific proceedings of the new year of his Academy and for everything that the Academicians were preparing and drawing near to doing. He always accompanied them, expecting from them fruits which were always equally valuable. And it was thus with all his heart that he proceeded to impart the Apostolic Blessing to the Academicians and those others present, and on all that they wished for, on their work, on their families and on all those dear things and dear people that they at that moment carried in their thoughts and hearts.