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Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier

An astronomer and director of the observatory at Paris, born at Saint Lô, the ancient Briodurum later called Saint-Laudifanum, in north-western France, 11 May, 1811; died at Paris, 25 September, 1877. From 1831 the talented youth studied at the Ecole Polytechnique with such success that at the end of his course he was appointed an instructor there. While connected with the school he showed a strong predilection for mathematical studies, above all for such problems as Laplace had so skilfully treated in the "Mécanique céleste". Le Verrier soon received an appointment in the government administration of tobaccos; later he became a professor at the Collège Stanislas at Paris, and finally, in 1646, he was appointed professor of celestial mechanics in the faculty of sciences at the University of Paris. As early as 1839 he published a calculation of the variations of the planetary orbits for the period of time from the year 100,000 B. C. to the year 100,000 A. D. , in which he proved by figures the stability of the solar system, which Laplace had only indicated. His calculation of the transit of Mercury of 1845 and of the orbit of Faye's comet demonstrated his ability in that province in which he was soon to gain an almost undreamed-of triumph from the discovery, by means of theoretical calculations, of the planet Neptune. The variations observed in Uranus, up to then the most distant planet known, led him to look for the cause of the disturbance outside of its orbit. His calculations enabled him to specify the very spot in the heavens where the body causing the perturbations in question was to be sought, so that the astronomer Galle of Berlin was able by the aid of his specifications to find the new planet at once upon looking for it, 23 September, 1846. In this way Le Verrier gave the most striking confirmation of the theory of gravitation propounded by Newton. He now became a member of the Academy of Sciences, in 1852 was made a senator, and after Arago's death (1853) was appointed director of the Paris Observatory, a position he held with a short interruption (1870-73) until his death. Under his skilful and prudent administration the observatory made important progress both as to equipment in instruments and, more particularly, as regards preeminent scientific achievements of which Le Verrier was the inspiration. He was the founder of the International Meteorological Institute and of the Association Scientifique de France, being the permanent president of the latter. He also gave careful attention to the geodetic work which was intended to give the most complete presentation possible of the configuration of the earth. The instruments of precision with which, in order to attain this end, he equipped the observers were remarkably complete.

His most important work, however, was the construction of tables representing the movements of the sun, moon, and planets: "Tables du Soleil" (1858); "Tables de Mercure" (1859); "Tables de Vénus" (1861); "Tables de Mars" (1861); "Tables de Jupiter" (1876); "Tables de Saturne" (1876); "Théorie d'Uranus" (1876); "Théorie de Neptune" (1876); "Tables d'Uranus" (1877). All these publications were preceded by theoretical investigations: "Théorie du mouvement apparent du Soleil" (1858); "Théorie de Mercure" (1859); "Théorie de Vénus" (1861); "Théorie de Mars" (1861), etc. Considerations similar to those which led to the discovery of the planet Neptune caused Le Verrier to infer the existence of a planet between Mercury and the sun. But far greater difficulties both were and are here connected with actual discovery than was the case with Neptune. However, Le Verrier on this occasion also showed his masterly skill in handling the various problems of the reciprocal perturbations of the planets and other heavenly bodies, as is shown in his writings on the subject: "Formules propres à simplifier le calcul des perturbations" (1876); "Variations séculaires des orbites" (1876), etc.

With all his erudition Le Verrier was a zealous adherent and true son of the Catholic Church ; even as deputy of the Assembly he openly acknowledged and defended his Catholic faith before all the world. He was also a ready speaker, one in no way discomposed by the attacks of opponents, for he knew how by profound and logical statements to convince his hearers quickly. When dying he said in the words of the aged Simeon : "Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, in pace". Those who spoke at the funeral of this remarkable man could truthfully assert that the study of the star-worlds stimulated in him the living belief of the Christian to new fervour. Even in the sessions of the Academy he made no concealment of his faith nor of his childlike dependence on the Catholic Church. When, on 5 June, 1876, he presented to the Academy his completed tables for Jupiter, the result of thirty-five years of toil, he emphasized particularly the fact that only the thought of the great Creator of the universe had kept him from flagging, and had maintained his enthusiasm for his task. He also on this occasion spoke strongly, like his colleague Dumas, against the materialistic and sceptical tendencies of so many scholars. To Le Verrier is due the organization of the meteorological service for France, especially the weather warnings for seaports, by which today the weather for the following twenty-four hours can be announced with much probability, a matter of especial importance for agriculture and shipping. The "Annales de l'Observatoire de Paris ", published during the administration of Le Verrier, consist of thirteen volumes of theoretical treatises and forty-seven volumes of observations (1800-1876). At the time of his death he was making plans for equipping the observatory with a large new telescope, and it may be that the stimulating influence exerted in this direction contributed not a little to the result that everywhere, particularly in North America, generous-minded patrons appeared who, each in his own land, gave the money necessary to obtain larger instruments. On 27 June, 1889, a statue of the distinguished savant which cost nearly 32,000 francs ($6400), was erected by subscription in front of the observatory where he had laboured for so many years.

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Ub 8

Ubaghs, Casimir

Born at Bergélez-Fauquemont, 26 November, 1800; died at Louvain, 15 February, 1875, was for ...

Ubaldus, Saint

Confessor, Bishop of Gubbio, born of noble parents at Gubbio, Umbria, Italy, towards the ...

Ubanghi

(UPPER FRENCH CONGO.) Vicariate Apostolic ; formerly part of the Vicariate of French Congo, ...

Ubanghi, Belgian

In Belgian Congo, separated on 7 April, 1911, from the Vicariate of the Belgian Congo and ...

Ubanghi-Chari

Prefecture Apostolic in Equatorial Africa, lies west of the Bahr-el-Ghazal territory and south ...

Uberaba

(DE UBERABA.) Suffragan diocese of Marianna, in Brazil, created by the Consistorial ...

Ubertino of Casale

Leader of the Spirituals, born at Casale of Vercelli, 1259; died about 1330. He assumed the ...

Ubiquitarians

Also called Ubiquists , a Protestant sect started at the Lutheran synod of Stuttgart, 19 ...

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Ucayali

(SAN FRANCISCO DE UCAYALI.) Prefecture Apostolic in Peru. At the request of the Peruvian ...

Uccello

Painter, born at Florence, 1397; died there, 1475. His real name was Paolo di Dono, but from his ...

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Ud 1

Udine

(UTINENSIS) The city of Udine, the capital of a province and archdiocese in Friuli, northern ...

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Ug 2

Ugento

(UXENTIN) The city of Ugento, with its small harbour, is situated in the Province of Leece, in ...

Ughelli, Ferdinando

Historian, born at Florence, 21 March, 1595; died 19 May, 1670. Having entered the Cistercian ...

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Uh 1

Uhtred

(Also spelled: Uhtred or Owtred ), an English Benedictine theologian and writer, born at ...

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Uj 1

Ujejski, Cornelius

Polish poet, born at Beremiany, Galicia, 1823; died at Cholojewie, 1897. His father was a ...

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Ulenberg, Kaspar

Convert, theological writer and translator of the Bible , born at Lippstadt on the Lippe, ...

Ulfilas

(Also: Ulphilas ), apostle of the Goths, missionary, translator of the Bible , and inventor ...

Ullathorne, William Bernard

English Benedictine monk and bishop, b. at Pocklington, Yorkshire, 7 May, 1806; d. at Oscott, ...

Ullerston, Richard

Born in the Duchy of Lancaster, England ; d. in August or September, 1423. Having been ordained ...

Ulloa, Antoine de

Naval officer and scientist, born at Seville, Spain, 12 Jan., 1716; died near Cadiz, Spain, 5 ...

Ulloa, Francisco de

Died 1540. It is not known when he came to Mexico nor if he accompanied Hernan Cortés in ...

Ulrich of Bamberg

(Udalricus Babenbergensis), a cleric of the cathedral church of Bamberg, of whom nothing more ...

Ulrich of Richenthal

Chronicler of the Council of Constance , date of birth unknown; died about 1438. Ulrich was ...

Ulrich of Zell

(Wulderic; called also of Cluny, and of Ratisbon ), born at Ratisbon, at the beginning of 1029; ...

Ulrich, Saint

Bishop of Augsburg, born at Kyburg, Zurich, Switzerland, in 890; died at Augsburg, 4 July, ...

Ultan of Ardbracca

St. Ultan of Ardbraccan, Ireland, was the maternal uncle of St. Brigid, and collected a life of ...

Ultramontanism

A term used to denote integral and active Catholicism, because it recognizes as its spiritual ...

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Un 22

Unam Sanctam

(Latin the One Holy , i.e. Church ), the Bull on papal supremacy issued 18 November, 1302, ...

Unclean and Clean

The distinction between legal and ceremonial, as opposed to moral, cleanness and uncleanness ...

Unction, Extreme

A sacrament of the New Law instituted by Christ to give spiritual aid and comfort and perfect ...

Ungava

A Canadian territory lying north of the Province of Quebec, detached (1876) from the Great ...

Uniformity Acts

These statutes, passed at different times, were vain efforts to secure uniformity in public ...

Unigenitus

A celebrated Apostolic Constitution of Clement XI, condemning 101 propositions of Pasquier ...

Union of Brest

Brest -- in Russian, Brest-Litovski; in Polish, Brzesc; in the old chronicles, called Brestii, or ...

Union of Christendom

The Catholic Church is by far the largest, the most widespread, and the most ancient of ...

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A tendency to form unions of prayer among the faithful has recently manifested itself in the ...

Unitarians

A Liberal Protestant sect which holds as it distinctive tenet the belief in a uni-personal ...

Unitas Fratrum

(MORAVIAN BRETHREN, or UNITAS FRATRUM). DEFINITION AND DOCTRINAL POSITION "Bohemian Brethren" ...

United States of America, The

BOUNDARIES AND AREA On the east the boundary is formed by the St. Croix River and an arbitrary ...

Unitive Way

The word state is used in various senses by theologians and spiritual writers. It may be ...

Unity

The marks of the Church are certain unmistakeable signs, or distinctive characteristics which ...

Universalists

A Liberal Protestant sect -- found chiefly in North America -- whose distinctive tenet is the ...

Universals

The name refers on the one hand to the inclination towards uniformity ( uni-versus ) existing in ...

Universe

Universe (or "world") is here taken in the astronomical sense, in its narrower or wider ...

Universe, Relation of God to the

1. Essential Dependence of the Universe on God (Creation and Conservation) In developing the ...

Universities

The principal Catholic foundations have been treated in special articles; here the general ...

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A constitutional college of the National University of Ireland. By its charter, granted 2 Dec., ...

Unjust Aggressor

According to the accepted teaching of theologians, it is lawful, in the defense of life or limb, ...

Unyanyembe

Vicariate apostolic in German East Africa, separated from the Vicariate Apostolic of Nyanza ...

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Upper Nile

Vicariate apostolic ; separated from the mission of Nyanza, 6 July, 1894, comprises the eastern ...

Upper Rhine

Ecclesiastical province; includes the Archdiocese of Freiburg and the suffragan Dioceses of ...

Upsala, Ancient See of

When St. Ansgar, the Apostle of the North, went to Sweden in 829 the Swedes were still heathen ...

Upsala, University of

The oldest and most celebrated university of Sweden. Even today the arrangement of its ...

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Ur 26

Uranopolis

A titular see of Asia Minor, suffragan of Ancyra in Galatia Prima. It is vainly sought in any ...

Urban I, Pope Saint

Reigned 222-30, date of birth unknown; died 23 May, 230. According to the "Liber Pontificalis," ...

Urban II, Pope Blessed

(Otho, Otto or Odo of Lagery), 1088-1099, born of a knightly family, at Châtillon-sur-Marne ...

Urban III, Pope

Reigned 1185-87, born at Milan ; died at Ferrara, 19 October, 1187. Uberto, of the noble ...

Urban IV, Pope

Reigned 1261-64 (Jacques Pantaléon), son of a French cobbler, born at Troyes, probably in ...

Urban V, Pope Blessed

Guillaume de Grimoard, born at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310; died at Avignon, 19 December, 1370. ...

Urban VI, Pope

Bartolomeo Prignano, the first Roman pope during the Western Schism, born at Naples, about ...

Urban VII, Pope

Giambattista Castagna, born at Rome, 4 Aug., 1521; elected pope, 15 September, 1590; died at ...

Urban VIII, Pope

Maffeo Barberini, born at Florence in April, 1568; elected pope, 6 August, 1623; died at Rome, 29 ...

Urbi et Orbi

The term Urbi et Orbi (which means "for the city and for the world") signifies that a papal ...

Urbino

(URBINATENSIS) Province of Pesaro and Urbino, Italy. The city of Urbino is situated on a ...

Urbs beata Jerusalem dicta pacis visio

The first line of a hymn of probably the seventh or eighth century, comprising eight stanzas ...

Urdaneta, Andrés

Augustinian, born at Villafranca, Guipúzcoa, Spain, 1498; died in the City of Mexico, ...

Urgel

(U RGELLENSIS ). Diocese in Spain, suffragan of Tarragona ; bounded on the N. by France ...

Urim and Thummim

The sacred lot by means of which the ancient Hebrews were wont to seek manifestations of the ...

Urmiah

A residential see in Chaldea, in the Province of Adherbaidjan, Persia. The primitive name of this ...

Urráburu, Juan José

Scholastic philosopher, born at Ceanuri, Biscay, 23 May, 1844; died at Burgos, 13 August, 1904. ...

Ursperger Chronicle

A history of the world in Latin that begins with the Assyrian King Ninius and extends to the year ...

Ursula of the Blessed Virgin, Society of the Sisters of Saint

Religious congregation of women founded in 1606 at Döle (then a Spanish possession), ...

Ursula, Saint, and the Eleven Thousand Virgins

The history of these celebrated virgins of Cologne rests on ten lines, and these are open to ...

Ursulines of Quebec, The

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Ursulines, The

A religious order founded by St. Angela de Merici for the sole purpose of educating young ...

Ursus, Saint

Patron of the principal church of Solothurn (Soleure) in Switzerland, honoured from very early ...

Urubamba

(MISIONES DE SANTO DOMINGO DE URUBAMBA Y MADRE DE DIOS) This prefecture apostolic was created ...

Uruguay

(REPUBLICA ORIENTAL DEL URUGUAY). The smallest independent state in South America, extending ...

Uruguayana

(URUGUAYANESIS) Diocese ; suffragan of Porto Alegre, Brazil. By a Decree dated 15 August, ...

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Us 4

Ushaw College

(College of St. Cuthbert) A combined college and seminary for the six dioceses that were ...

Usilla

A titular see of Byzacena in Africa. Nothing is known of the history of this city; it is ...

Usuard, Martyrology of

Usuard was a Benedictine monk of the Abbey of St-Germain-des-Prxs, Paris. He seems to have ...

Usury

In the article INTEREST we have reserved the question of the lawfulness of taking interest on ...

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Ut 8

Ut Queant Laxis Resonare Fibris

The first line of a hymn in honour of St. John the Baptist. The Roman Breviary divides it ...

Utah

Utah, the thirty-second state admitted to the Union, takes its name from an Indian tribe known ...

Uthina

A titular see of Africa Proconsularis, suffragan of Carthage. Uthina is mentioned by Ptolemy ...

Utica

A titular see in Africa Proconsularis. The city was founded by Tyrian colonists at the mouth ...

Utilitarianism

( Latin utilis , useful). Utilitarianism is a modern form of the Hedonistic ethical theory ...

Utopia

(Greek ou no or not, and topos place), a term used to designate a visionary or an ideally ...

Utraquism

The principal dogma, and one of the four articles, of the Calixtines or Hussites . It was first ...

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