William F. Rigge, S.J.

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William F. Rigge, S.J., was born September 9, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He completed his grade school education at St. Xavier College (Cincinnati) in 1870 and joined the Society of Jesus in 1875. As a young scholastic (i.e., a Jesuit who has not completed his final vows), Rigge came to Omaha in 1878 along with Father Roman Shaffel and three other Jesuit scholastics to open the new Creighton College. In 1881 William left Omaha for his theological and academic studies, although he kept in touch with Creighton through correspondence and visits with his older brother Joseph F. Rigge, SJ (who taught science here in from 1885 to 1893). After damaging his eyesight while obtaining a Ph.D. from Georgetown University, William was again assigned to Creighton in 1896 for a distinguished career as a teacher and scientist. His research, much of which involved the Creighton Observatory, was published widely and earned him local and international recognition. Creighton remained his home until his death on March 31, 1927.


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    (2008) Rigge, William F., S.J.
    From Editor's Note: | Father William F. Rigge, S.J., was near completion of his Memoirs when he passed away on March 31, 1927, at the age of 69. One could argue that the title Memoirs is inaccurate since the pages are less a personal history than an institutional history of Creighton University’s first 50 years. Fr. Rigge was uniquely qualified to chronicle Creighton’s first half century, having been one of the three Jesuit scholastics who helped Fr. Roman A. Shaffel, S.J., Creighton’s first president, start Creighton College in 1878. Even after leaving Omaha in 1881, Fr. Rigge kept close ties to Creighton, often visiting his brother, Fr. Joseph Rigge (who taught science at Creighton from 1885 to 1895). In 1895, William returned to Creighton as a physics teacher and director of the Creighton Observatory. Over the next three decades, his scholarship earned him an international reputation. | Includes panoramic photos taken from Creighton Observatory and published in 1913 in Popular Astronomy, XXII(5).
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    Rigge v. Dean exchange on Halley’s Comet and Pope Callixtus III
    (1908) Dean, John Candace; Rigge, William F., S.J.
    The Rigge v. Dean exchanges were a series of articles between Fr. William Rigge, S.J. and John Dean debating the historicity of the stories surrounding Pope Calixtus III and Halley's Comet that appeared in Popular Astronomy from 1908 - 1910. | 1908 | The Story of Halley's Comet – Dean - Popular Astronomy, vol. 16, pp.331-345 | The Pope and the Comet – Rigge - Popular Astronomy, vol. 16, pp.481-483 | The Pope and the Comet – Dean - Popular Astronomy, vol. 16, pp.587-588 | The Pope and the Comet. A Reply to Mr. Dean - Rigge - Popular Astronomy, Vol. 16, 1908, pp.656 | 1910 | An Historical Examination of the Connection of Calixtus III with Halley's Comet – Rigge - Popular Astronomy, vol. 18, pp.214-219 | Halley's Comet and the Church – Dean - Popular Astronomy, vol. 18, pp.295-296
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    Jesuit Astronomy
    (1904) Rigge, William F., S.J.; Schreiber, John, S.J.
    First Paragraph: | Part I. The Old Society, 1540-1773 | In the following pages I have attempted to jot down a few notes concerning the Jesuits of the 17th and 18th centuries and their relation to astronomy: I say notes, because more than that these lines cannot claim to be; as a long sickness has prevented and still prevents me from making them more complete, orderly and uniform. | Part II. The Restored Society 1814-1904 | The Society of Jesus, suppressed in 1773, was restored in 1814. The conditions confronting it had changed considerably during its extinction, and its progress in all directions was beset with new and greater difficulties. Not to mention the necessity of beginning life over again, and passing through the stages of infancy and adolescence unto maturity, the sciences were being modernized and specialized, and books and instruments and courses of study were increasing in number and in technical character. Competition was becoming keen, and means were proportionately smaller. The restored Society was obliged to build its colleges generally at its own expense, as the race of founders and benefactors was practically extinct, so much so, in fact, that whereas tuition had formerly been free in its colleges, special papal dispensation was now necessary to allow fees to be received in them for their support. Persecutions and confiscations were as frequent as ever, and even today the Society of Jesus is either outlawed or barely tolerated in most of its former most flourishing European provinces. Its scientific, and notably its astronomical activity was therefore, and is yet, very much embarrassed by the lack of means and of sufficient leisure, no less than harassed by positive opposition and persecution. However, the old spirit of the Order is fully alive, and in the short space of practically three quarters of a century the new Society has nobly emulated the deeds of the old.
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    Realm of Science May 20th 1918
    (1918-05-20) Rigge, William F., S.J.
    First Paragraph: | The most wonderful and unique geographical wonder of the world in its own line has lately been discovered in Alaska. It is called the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, because from innumerable vents of all sizes and in all directions dense clouds of white smoke are issuing at all times. This white smoke is mostly very hot steam mixed with volcanic gases. The valley is about fifteen miles long and about five miles wide, and is very near the Katmai volcano, the largest in the world, which had such a terrific eruption six years ago.
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    Realm of Science March 20th 1918
    (1918-03-20) Rigge, William F., S.J.
    First Paragraph: | On next June 8th, a considerable section of the United States will enjoy a celestial spectacle for which astronomers often travel halfway round the earth. This will be a total eclipse of the sun, when the moon will appear to be placed centrally before it, hiding its brilliant disk completely, and thereby enabling us to see the sun's surroundings, and especially its magnificent corona, which the very abundance of its light always keeps from our view out of times of a total eclipse. The moon will look like an old-time cannon ball, an inky-black, perfectly round ball held up immovably and mysteriously in midair. Close about it will be a ring of effulgent light, interspersed with roseate tongues of flame like carbuncles, stretching out from which on all sides will be the glorious corona, like a halo of light about a saint's head, or like a bursting mass of fireworks fading gradually into invisibility.