Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Friday, November 21, 2008

Copernicus: Motor terrae, solisque Stator

Outside the first floor seminar room at Sacred Heart Major Seminary where I teach hangs a beautiful portrait of Nicolas Copernicus, the canon lawyer (JCD, University of Ferrara, 1504) who, among other interesting projects, helped reorient the world's thinking about the solar system. The title over the SHMS portrait reads "Motor terrae, solisque Stator", or "He stayed the sun, and freed the earth." Yes, canon lawyers do that sort of thing. :)

A news story today reports that Copernicus' remains have been identified in Frombork, Poland. I'm glad; I hope his grave becomes of place of private pilgrimage. In lieu of making that trip, though, might I suggest looking up at the moon some night and spotting, not the most prominent crater visible, but the second greatest: it's named for Dcn. Copernicus*, and it might help us to remember to offer a prayer for the great lawyer-astronomer's soul, and for all the Church's scholars who have advanced the world's authentic understanding of itself.

*If memory serves, Copernicus was ordained to the diaconate, not to the presbyterate, as reported in the above story. But I might be wrong on that.