This site has been archived for historical purposes. These pages are no longer being updated.

Juan Molina, S.J.
(1740 to 1829)
and his botany

Juan Molina, S.J.

Juan Molina, S.J. taught botany at the college in Talca, Chile where he was able to study Chilean history, culture and geography about which he would later write. In 1768 he had to leave Chile because of the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish territories. After the Suppression (1773) he was appointed professor of natural sciences at the Institute of Bologna, where he wrote most of his works.

Juan described an analogy between living organisms and minerals. He proposed an idea of the gradual evolution of human beings, thereby anticipating Darwin's theory of evolution. In an 1815 work on nature's three kingdoms (mineral, vegetable and animal) he describes the Creator's plan for a continuous seamless chain of life from mineral life to vegetable life to animal life with no discrete discontinuous steps. Crystalline minerals tend to gather together in preparation for the higher form of vegetable life which then evolve into animal life. John showed unusual insight as well as care to maintain the scientific method, basing his claims on scientific observations. Called a heretic by some observers, he was ordered by the Archbishop of Bologna to hand over his findings to a committee of 18 theologians. The latter found no difficulty with John's work and approved publication.

Because of his contributions to biologiacl research Juan Molina, S.J. is honored in comemorative stamps.

Chilean comemorative stamps

Because of Juan's work Compendio della storia geografica naturale e civile del regno del Chile (Bologna, 1776), he remains the classic author on the natural history of Chile. Two 1967 Chilean stamps honor this Italian Jesuit botanist: one refers to him as the "first scientist of Chile" and the other calls him a "benefactor of national education". His scientific writings also helped direct Chilean intellectuals away from being overly dependent on Spain.


Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu ( AHSI ) Rome: Institutum Historicum
Bangert, William A History of the Society of Jesus. St. Louis: St. Louis Institute, 1972uis, 1810
Gillispie, Charles. C. ed., Dictionary of Scientific biography. 16 vols. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1970
{Reference to Juan Molina is in DSB Vol 9 pg. 458.}
Oldenburg, Henry ed. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. vols. 1-30. London: 1665-1715
Reilly, Conor "A catalogue of Jesuitica in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London" in A.H.S.I. vol. 27,1958, p. 339-362
Sommervogel, Carolus Bibliothèque de la compagnie de Jésus. 12 volumes. Bruxelles: Société Belge de Libraire, 1890-1960
Compendio delta storia geografica, naturals, e civile dew regno del Chile (Bologna, 1776) Storia civile (Bologna, 1786)
Rodolfo Jaramillo Barriga, El abate Juan Ignacio Molina, primer evolucionista y precursor de Teilhard de Chardin (Santiago de Chile, 1963);
Enrique Laval, "La medicina en el abate Molina," in Anales chilenos de historia de la medicina (1965);
Miguel Rojas Mix, in Anales de la Universidad de Chile (I 965).

Adventures of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

José de Acosta, S.J. - 1600: Pioneer of the Geophysical Sciences
François De Aguilon, S.J. - 1617: and his Six books on Optics
Roger Joseph Boscovich, S.J. - 1787: and his atomic theory
Christopher Clavius, S.J. - 1612: and his Gregorian Calendar
Honoré Fabri, S.J. - 1688: and his post-calculus geometry
Francesco M. Grimaldi, S.J. - 1663: and his diffraction of light
Paul Guldin, S.J. - 1643: applications of Guldin's Rule
Maximilian Hell, S.J. - 1792: and his Mesmerizing encounters
Athanasius Kircher, S.J. - 1680: The Master of a Hundred Arts
Francesco Lana-Terzi, S.J. - 1687: The Father of Aeronautics
Francis Line, S.J. - 1654: the hunted and elusive clock maker
Juan Molina, S.J. - 1829: The First Scientist of Chile
Jerôme Nadal, S.J. -1580: perspective art and composition of place
Ignace Pardies, S.J. - 1673: and his influence on Newton
Andrea Pozzo, S.J. - 1709: and his perspective geometry
Vincent Riccati, S.J. - 1775: and his hyperbolic functions
Matteo Ricci, S.J. - 1610: who brought scientific innovations to China
John Baptist Riccioli, S.J. - 167I: and his long-lived selenograph
Girolamo Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his solution to Euclid's blemish
Theorems of Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his non Euclidean Geometry
Christopher Scheiner, S.J. - 1650: sunspots and his equatorial mount
Gaspar Schott, S.J. - 1666: and the experiment at Magdeburg
Angelo Secchi, S.J. - 1878: the Father of Astrophysics
Joseph Stepling, S.J. - 1650: symbolic logic and his research academy
André Tacquet, S.J. - 1660: and his treatment of infinitesimals
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S. J. - 1955: and The Phenomenon of man
Ferdinand Verbiest, S.J. - 1688: an influential Jesuit scientist in China
Juan Bautista Villalpando, S.J. - 1608: and his version of Solomon's Temple
Gregory Saint Vincent, S.J. - 1667: and his polar coordinates
Nicolas Zucchi, S.J. - 1670: the renowned telescope maker

Influence of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

The 35 lunar craters named to honor Jesuit Scientists: their location and description
Post-Pombal Portugal opinion of Pre-Pombal Jesuit Scientists: a recent conference
Seismology, The Jesuit Science. a Jesuit history of geophysics

Another menu of Jesuit Interest

Jesuit history, tradition and spirituality

Visit the Jesuit Resource Page for even more links to things Jesuit.

Contact Information and Table of Contents for This Site
Mathematics Department
Fairfield University
Fairfield, CT 06430
Voice mail - 203 256-7222
FAX 203-255-5947

These 13 polyhedra symbolize the 13 items of this page
which is maintained by Joseph MacDonnell, S.J.
They are the 13 Achimedean semiregular polyhedra.

To F.U.