The Jesuits and their important presence in Antarctica

In spite of the famous saying “below 40 degrees South there is no law; below 50 degrees South there is no God” the exploration of the continent was in fact closely connected to religious activities Jesuit  geophysicists. Some of the early religious buildings are now protected as important historical monuments. Antarctica has various places of worship and an increasing demand for religious services and construction of sacred architecture on the Continent

Jesuit is the largest single order in the Catholic church, with more than 19,000 members by its own count, and a presence on every continent  including Antarctica, where Jesuits have been chaplains and, in keeping with their order’s reputation as the church’s intellectual powerhouse, even scientists. Jesuits have a 60 year history in Antarctica. In 1951 a 27 year-old French Jesuit scholastic (seminarian) and here below are some of them:

Rev. Pierre-Noël Mayaud (1923-2006), was one of 17 scientists who sailed on the polar exploration ship Commandant Charcot to spend 12 months at  Adelie land, the French sector of Antarctica.  Mayaud had become a Jesuit in 1941 at the age of 18. Permission for him to join the Antarctic expedition was given by Fr.  Jean-Baptiste Janssens, who was at that time the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, because it was believed that the experience he gained in Antarctica and the scientific work he did there would be a great asset in his future work as a professor at a Catholic university. Later in his life Father Mayaud, a geophysicist, was member of Conseil National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). See:


The Rev. Edward C. Bradley (* 18 july 1928, +8 june 2011, aged 82), was a Philadelphia physician who became a Jesuit priest when he was 50  In June 1979, the month before his 51st birthday, he was ordained as a Jesuit priest. for 18 years, Bradley had been one of the University’s most ambitious and adventurous Jesuit scientists, operating a state-of-the-art seismology station and challenging students in the classroom, all the while regaling everyone with stories of his adventures—particularly of his trip to Antarctica and his explorations at the bottom of the world


Father Michael Smith Australian Jesuit, visited the South Pole in December 2012 when he was a chaplain to the US base in the Antarctic (pic aside).


Father Dan Doyle (1932-2014) has been the leader of New Zealand’s Antarctic Ministry for the past 15 years, spending 14 summers at the Antarctic base as priest to a maximum summertime population of 2,000. In the winter, when the Antarctic falls dark, the population drops to about 150 essential staff.