Often considered the father of geology and stratigraphy, Danish Catholic bishop and scientist Blessed Nicolas Steno was born on this day 11 January in 1638 in Copenhagen. His pioneering research in both anatomy and geology has led to a greater understanding in both, and  he was also beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

He was the son of a Lutheran goldsmith who worked regularly for King Christian IV of Denmark, but grew up in isolation during his childhood, because of an unknown disease. In 1644 his father died, after which his mother married another goldsmith. Across the street lived Peder Schumacher (who would later offer Steno a post as professor in Copenhagen). After completing his university education, Steno set out to travel through Europe, In the Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany he came into contact with prominent physicians and scientists. These influences led him to use his own powers…

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