Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/763

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BOSCOVICH


691


BOSCOVICH


thoroughly beUeved in play as a means of arousing childish curiosity — more than this, he places it among his first recommendations, syid for the rest he adopted St. Philip Neri's words: "Do as you wish, I do not care so long as you do not sin."

Statistics. — At the time of Don Bosco's death in 1888 there were 250 houses of the Salesian Society in all parts of the world, containing 130,000 children, and from which there annually went out 18,000 finished apprentices. In the mother-house Don Bosco had selected the brightest of his pupils, taught them Italian, Latin, French, and mathematics, and this band formed a teaching corps for the new- homes which quickly grew up in other places. Up to 1888 over six thousand priests had gone forth from Don Bosco's institutions, 1,200 of whom had remained in the society. The schools begin with the child in his first instruction and lead, for those who choose it, to seminaries for the priesthood. The society also conducts Sunday schools, evening schools for adult workmen, schools for those who enter the priesthood late in life, technical schools, and printing establishments for the diffusion of good reading in different languages. Its members also have charge of hospitals and asylums, nurse the sick, and do pastoral work, especially in rural dis- tricts. The society has houses in the following countries: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, England, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Palestine, and Algiers; in North America, Mexico, in South America, Pata- gonia, Terra del Fuego, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, the Argentine Republic, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia. In the United States the Salesians have four churches: Sts. Peter and Paul and Corpus Christi in San Francisco, California; St. Joseph's in Oakland, California; and the Trans- figuration in New York City. Very Rev. Michael Borghino, Provincial for America, resides in San Francisco.

Don Bosco's Apostolate and Other Sketches (Salesian Press, Turin. 1901): Webeb in Kirchenlei., X, 1558 sqq.; Ville- FRANCHE, Don Bosco, tr. Martin (London).

E. F. Saxton.

Boscovich, RuGGiERO GiDSEPPE, a Dalmatian Jesuit and well-known mathematician, astronomer, and natural philosopher, b. at Ragusa, 18 May, 1711; d. at Milan, 13 February, 1787. He was the youngest of six brothers and his education was begun at the Jesuit college of his native city. Being early im- pressed by the success achieved by his masters he resolved to seek admission in their ranks and on 31 October, 172.5, at the youthful age of fourteen, he en- tered the noviti- ate of the Society of Jesus in Rome. His unusual tal- ents manifested t heinselves par- ticularly during the years devot- ed to literary and philosophical studies at the Collegio Romano, the most cele- brated of the colleges of the Society of Jesus. Thus, for example, young Boscovich discovered for himself the proof of the theorem of Pythagoras. His professors, especially Father Horatius Borgondi, professor of mathematics, knew how to cultivate his


RuQGtERO Giuseppe Boscovich


talents, and he made such progress, especially in mathematics, that he was able to take the place of his former professor at the Roman College even before the completion of his theological studies. As soon as he had completed the ordinary studies of a young Jesuit, he was appointed regular professor of mathe- matical science in the same college. He performed the duties of this office with much distinction for a whole generation, as is evidenced by the numerous Latin dissertations which he published nearly every year, according to the custom of the time. These show Boscovicn's preference for astronomical prob- lems. Among them may be mentioned: "The Sim- spots" (1736); "The Transit of Mercury" (1737); "The Aurora Borealis" (173S); "The Applications of the Telescope in Astronomical Studies" (1739); "The Figure of the Earth" (1739); "The Motion of the heavenly Bodies in an unresisting Medium" (1740); "The various Effects of Gravity" (1741); "The Aberration of the Fixed Stars" (1742). Problems in pure mathematics as well as philosophical specula- tions regarding the various theories on the constitu- tion of matter also engaged his attention and he took an active part in all scientific discussions which agitated the learned world of his time. To these be- long his "The Deviation of the Earth from the proba- ble Spherical Shape"; "Researches on L^niversal Gravitation"; "The Computation of a Comet's Orbit from a Few Observations", etc. His able treatment of these and similar problems attracted the attention of foreign, as well as of Italian, Academies, several of which — among them Bologna, Paris, and London — admitted him to membership. At Paris he shared with the famous mathematician Euler the honour of having submitted the correct solution of a prize problem.

Boscovich also showed much ability in dealing with practical problems. To him was due the project of the Observatory of the Collegio Romano, which afterwards became so well kno^mi. He first sug- gested using the massive dome-pillars of the college church of St. Ignatius as a foundation, on account of their great stability. (The church dome has not yet been completed, so the pillars still await the superstructure planned by the architect.) The un- favourable circumstances of the time and the storms brewing against the Jesuits, which ended, as is well known, in the suppression of the Society, prevented Boscovich 's plan from being carried out until 1850, when Father Secchi, his worthy successor, was able to bring it to completion. There is a close parallel, it may be observed, between these two coryphcei of the Roman College, and Boscovich may, without hesitation, be considered the intellectual forerunner of Secchi. Like Secchi, too, he was the adviser of the papal Government in all important teclmical ques- tions. Thus, when in the middle of the eighteenth century the great dome of St. Peter's began to show cracks and other signs of damage, causing consterna- tion to the pope and to the Eternal City, Boscovich was consulted, and the excitement was not allayed until his plan to place large iron bands about the dome was carried out. His advice was sought when there was question of rendering innocuous the Pontine marshes and he was also entrusted with the survey of the Papal States. Pope Benedict XIV commissioned him and his fellow-Jesuit, Le Maire, to carry out several precise meridian arc measure- ments, and it seems to have been due chiefly to his influence that the same pope, in 1757, abrogated the obsolete decree of the Index against the Copemiean system.

Many universities outside of Italy sought to num- ber Boscovich among their professors. He himself was full of the spirit of enterprise, as was sho^Ti when King John V of Portugal petitioned the general of the Jesuits for ten Fathers to make an elaborate