Giovanni Boccardi 1859 – 1936
Born in Castelmauro, a small village in Molise, having been orphaned by his mother very soon, he was entrusted to an uncle who was a priest in Naples. His ready and lively intelligence, combined with a strong will, allowed him to obtain a high school diploma at the age of 12 and a high school diploma at 15. At the age of four he was already reading and translating the Latin classics, his study hours were very strict: seven hours without interruptions. Of particularly religious and pious soul, at the age of 25 he became a priest while studying mathematics in Naples. He was fluent in Latin, French, English, German, Turkish and Greek.
At the beginning of the century he worked at the observatories in Paris and Berlin where he perfected his studies of Astronomy. He taught Astronomy in Naples and Turin where he taught for more than 20 years. It was his ambitious project to move to a location far from the lights and fumes of the city, on the hill of Pino Torinese, where he installed the largest rotating dome in Italy. Father Boccardi started a unique project, having the avant-garde instruments installed for the time. In 1923 he was put to early retirement following a request from him for precarious health conditions: he had lost the use of his right eye due to too much overload.
He dealt with Classical Astronomy, orbits calculations, determinations and latitude variations, dedicating himself also to the cataloguing of the stars. His work has been fundamental to facilitate the study and research in the field of astronomical calculations, both for the precise and concise formulation and for the clarity of exposure. For his astronomical and mathematical merits he was a member of important scientific academies such as the Pontifical Italian Academy, the Bureau des Longitudines and the Washington Academy of Sciences.
In his long and extraordinary career as a mathematician and astronomer he never forgot that he was also a priest. Son of the mountains of Molise, he had until the end a strong, tenacious, open character and this gave him satisfaction but also many bitterness, he died at the age of seventy-seven in France after a very short illness.