Niels Stensen, 1638-1686: The Scientist who was Beatified
Gracewing Publishing, 2003 - 179 pagina's
Niels Stensen was born in Copenhagen in 1638. He lived for most of his adult life outside Denmark: principally in Italy, the Netherlands, France and Germany. His scholarship brought him an international reputation in the field of anatomy, and as a founder of the scientific study of both geology and paleontology. He is one of the greatest scientists of his age, itself the era of many of the giants of scientific discovery.
In anatomy his pioneering work included the function of the glands, the heart and the brain. As the founder of modern geology he was the first to find out how fossils are formed, and his study of the earth's crust led to his formulation of the very basic law of stratification.
At the height of his career as a scientist, Niels Stensen chose to become a Catholic priest and later (aged only thirty-seven) allowed himself to be consecrated a bishop. His choice was not a rejection of science; rather he felt called to a greater task, that of working amongst the weakest in society. His ideal became that of evangelical poverty. He lived the rest of his life in Germany, using his rich gifts in the service of the poor, many of whom were victims of the havoc caused by the Thirty Years' War. He died in total povery in Schwerin in 1686.
Niels Stensen was beatified by Pope St John Paul II in 1988, the first scientist ever to be beatified. His sarcophagus in the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence is covered with scraps of paper carrying the intercessions of those who have visited his shrine. Intercessions which are often heard. His uncompromising search for truth makes him an example for priests, doctors, and scientists - and for believers everywhere.