Inventive monk identification
November 30, 2004 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Who's That Monk?!?!?! Any or all of these details might be wrong, but it's all I've got: oddball 17th century monk (maybe Jesuit) who developed the water system for Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers, in Rome's Piazza Navona) and made strange mechanical devices like a mechanical Jesus that walked on water. I know I heard a story about him on an evening NPR show, I think there was a meme floating around the web around the same time. I want to say his name was Chirac, but I only remember hearing that, so I may be spelling it wrong, or even confusing it with a certain foreign president. Any takers?
posted by cosmonaught to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Athanasius Kircher?
posted by vacapinta at 4:00 PM on November 30, 2004

Here's a neat site on his water-powered musical instruments put together by the author of the Swedish Typewriter page. (Assuming it is him you're thinking of)
posted by vacapinta at 4:06 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you! I don't know why I ruled him out when I was searching before, but a quick google search for Bernini and Kircher, makes it certain.

Now the question is why I thought he was name Chirac.
posted by cosmonaught at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: I mean "named Chirac."

And it's strange because I remember listening to a segment about him on the radio and thinking "Oh, Chirac, like the French president. Neat."
posted by cosmonaught at 4:13 PM on November 30, 2004

Thanks for the earworm! Now every time I check the Green, I have "Who's That Monk?" running through my head to the tune of "Who's That Girl?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:10 PM on November 30, 2004

yeah, it's Kircher. I meant to post something about him on the FP, one day. knock yourself out.
the Quirinale organ is indeed very cool
posted by matteo at 5:54 PM on November 30, 2004

Wasn't there a chapter about this guy in "Landscape And Memory" by Simon Schama?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:34 PM on November 30, 2004

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