Letter from Secchi to brother Marchetti

Palermo, 27 November 1870
Fondo Secchi, 9.2, c. 107
135 x 224 mm
Archives of Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Rome

The Jesuit brother Francesco Marchetti, assistant to Secchi at the Roman College Observatory, was a faithful friend and confidant of Secchi. This letter was written by Secchi about two months after the occupation of Rome, during his stay in Palermo, before reaching Augusta to observe the total solar eclipse of 1870. Secchi had just written the letter of renounce to be appointed Professor of physical astronomy at La Sapienza University, a position which was offered to him by the new Italian Government, and that he rejected in obedience to his Jesuit Superiors, due to the diplomatic conflict between the Italian Government and the Vatican after the occupation of Rome.
Secchi fears that the Italian Government could confiscate his observatory. He writes to Marchetti that he has no friends who could help him in this circumstance and urge him to put in a safe place his manuscripts and papers, being under the risk of a confiscation. My position is in the hands of God he wrote to his friend confrere, who would have been accompanying him in Sicily but, once in Naples, went back to Rome, in order to save the Observatory from possible risks of requisition.

Ileana Chinnici - INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo