News Detail
Pope Francis greets students and professors from the Vatican Observatory Summer School.
Jesuits’ Vatican Observatory Gathers International Students Under One Sky

July 11, 2014 — The Society of Jesus is well-known for its educational institutions around the globe, but the academic work of the Jesuits also extends to the skies. The Vatican Observatory Summer School (VOSS), under the direction of Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, brings together young astronomers from countries as varied as Burkina Faso, Mexico, Iran, the U.S, Portugal and Australia to study the stars for four weeks every other summer.

Twenty-five students from  22 nations gathered at the Observatory’s headquarters on the grounds of the Papal Summer Residence just outside Rome for VOSS this June, participating in lectures and seminars by visiting scholars and presenting research centered around this year’s theme, “Galaxies: Near and Far, Young and Old.”

VOSS offers students the opportunity to learn from the Vatican Observatory staff, who are all Jesuits and accomplished scientists, as well as from each other. According to Br. Consolmagno, the school’s most important benefit is that it draws students from across religious, cultural and geographical divides who ordinarily would not have the chance to interact.

Thanks to benefactors, the school sponsors students from developing nations who otherwise would be unable to attend. Additionally, no more than two representatives from each nation are chosen for the school, presenting a range of viewpoints and experiences. For many of the students, VOSS provides their first opportunity to make a public presentation of their work in English, which is "good practice" for their future careers, said Br. Consolmagno.

The students present papers on their own research or the research being done at their universities, engage in a variety of laboratory exercises and visit notable sites such as Galileo’s villa and museum in Italy. More than 350 students have taken part in VOSS since the first school was held in1986, with over 85 percent continuing today as professional astronomers. This summer’s class began June 1 and concluded with a papal audience on June 26.

“You have dedicated yourselves not only to the study of galaxies … but have also shared your own cultural and religious traditions,” Pope Francis told the students in his address. “In this way, you have offered an impressive example of dialogue and of harmonious coexistence.” [Sources: Vatican Radio, Catholic News Service, L'Osservatore Romano


Recent News

August 31, 2015 — Jesuits are preparing for General Congregation 36, using the guidelines originally created by St. Ignatius.

August 28, 2015 — The Jesuits reflect on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the floods that devastated the region.

August 26, 2015 — In one of the first events of its kind, female administrators from seven different Jesuit colleges met in Cincinnati to discuss Ignatian leadership at Xavier University.

August 24, 2015 — Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee held a "Draft Day" to kick off its Corporate Work Study Program that will employ 130 freshmen at local businesses.

August 21, 2015 — America Media and the Ignatian Solidarity Network have announced a new social justice film contest.

August 19, 2015 — Twenty-four Jesuit novices in Canada and the United States professed First Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience this month.

August 18, 2015 — Garrett Gundlach, SJ, a Jesuit scholastic, shares this reflection on how he found his vocation as an undergrad at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America - 8/17/15

America - 8/03/15

America - 7/20/15



Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos
The Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos has offered prayerful solitude and inspiring vistas to those seeking spiritual rejuvenation since 1925.