Shrine of the Holy Whapping
A common bit of modern hagiographic folkore, the exact circumstances of which I have been unable to trace, reports that on one day about a hundred years ago, a young brash scientist on his way to a conference shared a train compartment with a quiet old man who looked to be an example of that type once so common in France, that of the wealthy peasant. He noticed the old gentleman was telling the beads of a rosary, and proceeded to hector him, asking him why he bothered with such outdated things in an age of scientific progress.
The old man asked, "What is this science? Perhaps you can explain it to me." He was clearly moved, and had tears in his eyes. The young student, slightly embarassed by the reaction he'd brought about, said he would send him some pamphlets to explain the subject to him, if he'd just give him his address. The old man's stop had come up, and he was about to step out. The old man rummaged around in his coat and pulled out a business card, and just as he left the compartment, the young man realized it read, "Louis Pasteur, Director of the Institute of Scientific Research, Paris."
Whether or not this story is true--and it certainly could be, given Louis Pasteur's very genuine faith--it's a matter of historic record that the great man died with a rosary in his hand, after having had the life of St. Vincent de Paul read aloud to him. The saint was one of his heroes, and an inspiration for his own scientific work, that it might benefit the lives of children as the saint's own charity had.
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