Gregor Johann Mendel was born in 1822 in Heinzendorf, Moravia. It is now the
Czech Republic. When he was 22, he entered the Augustinian Monastery of St. Thomas at
The Augustinian monastery was established in Moravia in 1350. The monks at the
monastery included philosophers, a musicologist, mathematicians, mineralogists and
botanists who all liked scientific research and teaching. The library contained very old
religious books, as well as books dealing with problems in the sciences. The monastery
also held a huge mineral collection and had an experimental botanical garden and a
herbarium (whatever that is). It was in that monastery, Mendel later wrote, that his
preference for the natural sciences was developed.
After becoming an ordained to priesthood, Mendel was assigned to pastoral duties.
But, it soon became apparent that he was more interested in teaching and science. He was
sent to a secondary school in the city of Znaim and the students liked him.
But, when he
took the qualifying state examination for his teaching certificate, he failed. It was
recommended that Mendel not retake the examination for at least a year and his Abbot
brought him back to Brunn where he taught part-time. The Abbot, amazed at Mendel's
knowledge in science, sent him to the University of Vienna in order to improve his skills
for his reexamination. Mendel spent four terms in Vienna (1851- 1853) where he attended
lectures and seminars in natural sciences and mathematics. It was there that he acquired
the scientific skills which he would use to apply to his later experiments. Mendel returned
to his monastery, and continued to teach in Brunn in 1854. When, two years later, he
attempted to get his teaching certification, he became ill and withdrew (yeah right!). He
did not try again to take the examination, but continued...