UNCW Professor Diana Pasulka to Visit the Vatican Space Archives and “Secret Archives”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

UNCW philosophy and religion professor Diana Pasulka will soon have a rare opportunity to pore over centuries-old documents in archives belonging to the Vatican as part of new research into the deep historical connections between astronomy and religion.

Throughout history, space phenomena have been interpreted in a religious context and the Catholic Church has carefully documented astronomical events and the history of astronomy, said Pasulka, who is chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. Through her research, she strives to show that science and religion have much more in common than most people realize.

By studying the Vatican archives, Pasulka hopes to pinpoint specific astronomical anomalies as they relate to religious events described in the Bible and other religious texts. “Important events in the Bible coincided with events in space,” she explained.

Pasulka will travel to Rome in the summer to visit the Vatican Space Archives at Castel Gandolfo and to view the “Secret Archives” within the Vatican itself. The space archives contain the writings of some of the most important figures in astronomy, including Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler and Brahe. Rarely have scholars have been afforded access, and Pasulka is eager to be one of the few offered a glimpse.

The privately funded research will employ her expertise in translating texts and supplying the religious context, as well as a long-time research interest in the correlation between astronomical phenomena and biblical events.

“Now that we know what was happening in the night sky, we can look at it in the religious context of that time,” Pasulka said. She plans to write a book about her research, beginning with the digital archives that are available.

Pasulka will stay in accommodations in Castel Gandolfo, which is also home to the papal summer residence.

-- Tricia Vance