Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 1881 to 1955: a geologist priest in Hastings

Ken Brooks (UK) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born in the Auvergne region of France on 1 May 1881. His enthusiasm for science developed in his childhood, partly through the influence and encouragement of his father, who was a keen naturalist. In 1899, at the age of 18 and having completed secondary education, he joined the Society of Jesus as a novice. While severe intellectual discipline was a characteristic of his Jesuit Order, it also included instruction in all branches of science, particularly geology and zoology. Fig. 1. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1955. Shortly after and as a result of legislation in France directed against the religious orders, the Jesuits moved to the Channel Islands and, in 1901, transferred their juniorate to the institution Notre Dame de Bon-Secours at Maison St Louis in Jersey. Teilhard stayed here for three years studying theology and philosophy, but he was also able to spend time developing his interest in geology. In fact, it is said that he never went for a walk without a hammer and a magnifying glass. In 1905, Teilhard was sent to Egypt to gain teaching experience at the Jesuit College of St Francis in Cairo, where he studied and taught physics. For the next three years, his naturalist inclinations were developed through field trips into the countryside near Cairo studying the existing flora and fauna as well as fossils from Egypt’s very ancient past. He also made time for extensive collecting of fossils and for correspondence with palaeontologists in … Read More

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