Friday, June 17, 2011
Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) ordered Francesco Bianchini (1662-1729) to build a Meridian Line. Bianchini was the Secretary of the Commission for the Calendar. He chose the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli because of the stability of its roman walls and foundations and its suitable dimension. The Line built by Giandomenico Cassini (1625-1712) in 1655 in San Petronio, Bologna, was the model for Bianchini, who improved it by allowing the observation of stellar transits.
Pope Clement XI inaugurated the Great Sundial on October 6, 1702, the annual Feast of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order, whose statue is in the entrance of the Church. Carthusian monks ruled this Basilica for three centuries until 1884.
"ASTRONOMY IN THE CHURCH: THE CLEMENTINE SUNDIAL IN SANTA MARIA DEGLI ANGELI, ROME" by Costantino Sigismondi