Feast of Michael Faraday (August 25)   2 comments


Above:  Michael Faraday’s Sketch of an Electric Generator, Published by Thomas Martin in 1932

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-110406




Michael Faraday was a pivotal figure in human history, for his discoveries have benefited anyone who has used electricity for even the most mundane purposes.  My reading about Faraday (mostly in old encyclopedias) has taught me about a series of important discoveries he made.  Those are impressive, it is true, but I have listed Faraday as a saint here because he was a Christian who did all his work for God and with a deep sense of gratitude and obligation to God.

Faraday, born in Newington Butts, Surrey, England, had little formal schooling.  That which he did have was elementary.  At age thirteen he became an apprentice to a bookseller and bookbinder.  This apprenticeship proved to be the best possible beginning to our saint’s scientific career, for he came into daily contact with many books.  Faraday read volumes about chemistry and electricity with the greatest enthusiasm and began to repeat experiments of which he read.  During the Winter of 1810-1811 our saint attended a series of lectures on chemistry in London.  He took notes and drew illustrations then bound them into four volumes.  The following year a certain customer in the store saw these and invited our saint to another lecture.  This event opened a vital door for Faraday, who sat at the Royal Institution on one crucial day, taking notes as Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) lectured.   Then Faraday sent his notes to Davy and requested employment.  The elder scientist hired our saint as a laboratory assistant in March 1813.

Thus Faraday’s career began in earnest.  He and Davy traveled in Europe from October 1813 to April 1815, visiting the main laboratories there and establishing important contacts with leading scientists.  By 1825 our saint rose to the post of Director of the Laboratory at the Royal Institution.  By 1833 he was Professor of Chemistry.

Faraday, who had begun to come to scientific prominence in 1821, founded the science of electricity and contributed to other fields.  He, for example, left his mark also in chemistry, geology, metallurgy, acoustics, and heat.  And he was an educator of the young.  Faraday, who had no children of his own, liked young people.  For nineteen seasons he gave a series of science lectures designed for children at Christmas time.

Our saint, married to Sarah Bernard, was also a member–a deacon and twice and elder, actually–of the Glasite/Sandemanian sect.  This group, now officially extinct, was an offshoot of the Church of Scotland.  The founder, John Glas (1695-1773), defrocked in 1730, objected to his original denomination’s status as a national church.  There was no warrant for such a thing in the New Testament, he said.  The Glasites, relatively egalitarian for the time, practiced weekly communion and held property communally.  (They must have read the Acts of the Apostles.)  The founder’s son-in-law, Robert Sandeman (1718-1771), spread the sect throughout England and its North American colonies.

This was the church in Faraday grew up and in which he spent his adult life.  Such knowledge rounds out the biography of the great scientist, does it not?





God of grace and glory, you create and sustain the universe in majesty and beauty:

We thank you for Michael Faraday and all in whom you have planted

the desire to know your creation and to explore your work and wisdom.

Lead us, like them, to understand better the wonder and mystery of creation;

through Jesus Christ your eternal Word, through whom all things were made.  Amen.

Genesis 2:9-20

Psalm 34:8-14

2 Corinthians 13:1-6

John 20:24-27

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 738


2 responses to “Feast of Michael Faraday (August 25)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of St. Jeanne Jugan (August 30) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. Pingback: Feast of Johannes Kepler (November 16) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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