Loyola University Chicago

Department of Theology


Where Have All The Heavens Gone?

Where Have All The Heavens Gone?

2015 marked the 400th anniversary of the writing of a very important letter in the history of western thought, the letter of Galileo Galilei to Christina of Lorraine, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany.  The letter remains a classic for thinking about how a traditional religion can enter a modern world.  Recognizing this, Profs. John McCarthy and Edmondo Lupieri realized the opportunity for involving several departments in a commemorative event that could also attract an international audience.  After discussions with Dr. Sarah Gabel and Fr. Charles Jurgensmeyer, S.J., of the Fine and Performing Arts Department, and Dr. Asim Gangopadhyaya of the Physics Department, Profs. McCarthy and Lupieri planned an extensive series of interdisciplinary events at Loyola titled: “Celebrating Galileo – Celebrazioni Galileiane”.  Thanks to the financial support Loyola and of several external institutions, the result was a year-long set of public programs and now the publication of a scholarly monograph published by Cascade Books titled, Where Have All the Heavens Gone? Galileo’s Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (June, 2017). 

The events included the following:

  1. A colloquium led by Dr. Robin Lovin, Director of Research at the Princeton Center for Theological Inquiry on “The Societal Implication of Astrobiology: Interdisciplinary Reflections at the Center of Theological Inquiry” {October 15, 2015}
  2. A performance by the Loyola University Orchestra of Mozart’s “Jupiter” from Symphony 41, selected movements from the Planets Suite by Gustav Holst, the Star Wars Theme by John Williams and a U.S. premiere performance of Sun Music by Peter Sculthorpe {November 4, 2015};
  3. A lute concert by Mr. Joel Spears of music composed by Galileo Galilei’s father (Vincenzo) and brother (Michelangelo), as well as a choral performance of Vincenzo’s setting of the Psalm CXIII, In Exitu Israel, by Loyola’s Chamber Choir {November 15, 2015}
  4. A production of Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo (eight performances) by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts with the guest lead performed by Mr. Ross Lehman, Broadway actor and winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Acting {November 13-22, 2015};
  5. Performance by Loyola University’s Dance Program of Galileo’s early work De Motu choreographed by Sarah Cullen Fuller of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts {November 14 & 15, 2015};
  6. A demonstration of Galileo Galilei’s experiments on motion by Dr. Asim Gangopadhyaya, who, along with students from the Physics Department, re-constructed the original apparatus used by Galileo {November 18th, 2015};
  7. The John Cardinal Cody Annual Lecture delivered by Fr. George Coyne, S.J., former Director of the Vatican Observatory titled, “Where Have All the Heavens Gone? Galileo, Modern Science and the Bible” {November 19, 2015};
  8. A public symposium on “Cosmos, Past and Present: An Interdisciplinary Discussion of Galileo’s Letter to Christina of Lorraine” with presentations by Fr. George Coyne; Dr. Dennis McCarthy, former Director of the Directorate of Time at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.; Professor Mauro Pesce, former Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Bologna, Dr. Asim Gangopadhyaya, and Dr. John McCarthy {November 20, 2015};
  9. An evening lecture, “Galileo and the Vatican”, at the Italian Cultural Institute by Mons. Melchor Sánchez de Toca y Alameda, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican {February 4, 2016};
  10. A Round Table discussion led by Mons. Melchor Sánchez de Toca y Alameda and Fr. Robert Bireley, S.J., of Loyola’s History Department on “Galileo, the Pope, a Cardinal: A Roman Triangle” {February 5, 2016};
  11. A lecture and discussion by Dr. Alice Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger {a text on the ethics of medical research} with responses by Dr. Hille Haker (Loyola Theology Department McCormick Chair} and Dr. Betsy Hemenway (Director, Loyola Women Studies and Gender’s Studies) {February 18, 2016};
  12. A public discussion with Alice Dreger on Academic Freedom and Publishing with Dr. Barry Sullivan (Loyola Law School) and Ms. Marissa Boulanger (then editor of Loyola Phoenix) {February 19, 2016}.

This entire program was sponsored by several offices and departments of Loyola University (the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, the Fine and Performing Arts Department, the Physics Department, the Theology Department, the John Cardinal Cody Chair in Theology) as well as by the Italian Consulate General, the Italian Cultural Institute and ItalCultura of Chicago, the Kindekins Foundation through the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, and had the patronage from the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Science and Faith - STOQ Foundation of the Vatican.