HOPKINSVILLE, Kentucky — A Catholic school in western Kentucky received a special visit from a Vatican official who is in town to view the solar eclipse.

The Kentucky New Era reports Vatican Observatory Director Guy Consolmagno visited the school at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Hopkinsville on Friday. Consolmagno is in town to view Monday’s solar eclipse and to give a presentation at the church on Sunday night.

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Brother Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit who directs the Vatican Observatory, says, “The Vatican Observatory was founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XII to show that the Church supports good science, and to do that we have to have good science.”

In May of this year, he organized a conference to bring together experts in both theoretical and observational cosmology, to ponder new questions arising from the discoveries of puzzling elements of the universe such as dark matter and dark energy.

Consolmagno called on scientists who are also believers to “come out of the closet” about it, sharing their scientific work with people in their churches and faith communities.

“More scientists who are church-goers need to make their science known to their parishioners,” he said.

“They should set up their telescopes in the church parking lot, or lead natural trails for youth groups,” Consolmagno said.

The tiny western Kentucky town is the point of greatest eclipse and is expected to draw thousands of people to watch the event on Monday. That includes Consolmagno, who conducts astronomical studies for the Vatican and says he has never witnessed a total solar eclipse.

Although he won’t be setting up his telescope in a parking lot in Hopkinsville to watch the eclipse, he will probably represent another point of fascination in the town given his job.

Church member Oscar Nicanor told the newspaper he never thought he would ever meet anyone from the Vatican.


Crux staff contributed to this report.