A campaign will be launched this weekend calling for a statue to be erected of the man who should be considered Lincoln's most famous son: Bishop Robert Grosseteste.
The great mediaeval thinker, who gave his name to one of the city's two universities, was ahead of his time according to the theologian leading the campaign. His ideas about how the universe was created are close to the Big Bang Theory, he was the first scientist to identify the cause of the rainbow as refraction and he seems to have understood centuries before anyone else that the universe is expanding.
This weekend (18th to 20th July) at the third international Robert Grosseteste Conference at BGU in Lincoln Dr Cunningham will launch his campaign with a petition which he hopes will be signed by leading academic figures.
"Robert Grosseteste was undoubtedly the most eminent figure associated with our city," he said. "One of his most famous biographers, Sir Richard Southern, called him the greatest product of Oxford University. Grosseteste was revolutionary in the history of science because he knew that everything was about mathematics and that good scientists should base their knowledge on what they observe and not what they think. He has been called the founder of the tradition of scientific thought and a minor planet has even been named after him! And yet very few people have even heard of Robert Grosseteste, and even in his home city of Lincoln his name is only known because of the university which took his name."
The Ordered Universe Project at Durham and Oxford Universities is dedicated to re-examining mediaeval science using readings of the scientific works of Robert Grosseteste; scholars are currently translating, explaining and publishing his works, which were written in Latin. The conference this weekend is entitled Robert Grosseteste and the pursuit of Religious and Scientific Learning in the Middle Ages and will be attended by scholars from all over the globe.
"We're sure they will have a marvellous time in Lincoln but we will not be at all surprised if many of them go home wondering why there is no statue of the city's greatest thinker," said Dr Cunningham. "It is inconceivable that this would happen if Grosseteste had been born in Paris, Madrid or Milan. "We're calling on the city's authorities to mark the achievements and growing recognition of Robert Grosseteste properly. A statue or appropriate commemoration of the great scientist and philosopher would not only be a wonderful addition to our city, it would also be a fitting tribute to a hugely important figure."
The Guild of Robert Grosseteste will be established soon as the driving force behind the campaign, which in turn will lend greater weight to Dr Cunningham's campaign for Robert Grosseteste to be canonised.