About Ilia Delio

Ilia Delio, OSF, PhD is a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC and American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics and neuroscience and the import of these for theology.

Ilia currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University, and is the author of twenty books including Care for Creation (coauthored with Keith Warner and Pamela Woods) which won two Catholic Press Book Awards in 2009, first place for social concerns and second place in spirituality. Her book The Emergent Christ won a third place Catholic Press Book Award in 2011 for the area of Science and Religion. Her recent books include The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love (Orbis, 2013), which received the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award and a third place Catholic Press Association Award for Faith and Science. Ilia holds two honorary doctorates, one from St. Francis University in 2015, and one from Sacred Heart University in 2020.



Ilia graduated with a B.S. in Biology from DeSales University and pursued a masters degree in Biology at Seton Hall University, followed by a doctorate in Pharmacology from Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. Her area of specialization was neurotoxicology, with an emphasis on neuromuscular disease and she wrote her dissertation on axonal dysfunction in an experimental model of Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) disease. She relinquished a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Alzheimer’s research to enter a Carmelite monastery. She later left the monastery and joined a Franciscan community. After entering the Franciscans, she returned to research and did a postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers University, Neurotoxicology Laboratories where she became a Research Fellow. Her work at Rutgers included experimental drug treatment for diabetic neuropathy and assessment of sensory nerve damage due to methyl mercury intoxication.

While in formation with her Franciscan community, she was asked to study theology and was sent to Fordham University. She obtained a masters degree in Theology and a doctorate in historical theology, studying under Professor Ewert Cousins.

Following graduation from Fordham she taught in Science and Religion at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. For the next twelve years, she was Professor and Chair of Spirituality Studies at Washington Theological Union, where she taught courses in the History of Christianity, Franciscan theology, and Science and Religion. She then became a Senior Research Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University concentrating in Science and Religion. When Woodstock closed in June, 2013, she was hired by Georgetown University as Director of Catholic Studies and Visiting Professor.

Recent Books

The Primacy of Love
Ilia Delio (2022)

In an age of anxiety where reason is deified, what is the role of love? This short book centralizes love as the core reality of all cosmic life. From the cosmological to the theological dimensions of existence, love is shown to be the irresistible force of attraction that leads straight into the heart of God. The book is divided into three short chapters based on a metaphysics of love: we are born out of divine love, we exist in love, and we are oriented toward the fullness of love. In a world of evolutionary convergence and global consciousness, love may be the singular ethic that binds us together, heals our wounds and draws us into a new unity of planetary life.

In the My Theology series, the world’s leading Christian thinkers explain some of the principal tenets of their theological beliefs in concise, pocket-sized books. There are sixteen titles total.

Pre-order the book here

The Hours of the Universe: Reflections on God, Science, and the Human Journey
Ilia Delio (2019)

In a traditional monastery the recitation of the Hours calls to mind the work of God in our lives, from the gift of creation to the sufferings we bear. According to scientist, theologian, and author Ilia Delio, the universe is the new monastery. In her latest work she offers reflections for this new monastery to a broad, general audience seeking new meaning and purpose in today’s world.

Order the book here.


Re-Enchanting the Earth: Why AI Needs Religion
Ilia Delio, September 2020

In her latest book, scientist and theologian Ilia Delio takes up the challenge of reconciling evolution and religion with particular attention to the role of Artificial Intelligence.

She argues that AI represents the latest extension of human evolution, which has implications not only for science but also for religion. If the first axial age gave rise to the great religions, she sees us now on the cusp of a second axial age, in which AI, oriented by new religious sensibilities, can bring about an ecological re-enchantment of the earth.

Order the book here.



Birth of a Dancing Star: My Journey From Cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian
Ilia Delio (2019)

Birth of a Dancing Star: My Journey From Cradle Catholic to Cyborg ChristianIn this captivating memoir Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio, theologian, ground-breaking author, and one of the most exciting thinkers on the frontiers of dialogue between religion and science, recounts the remarkable

journey that took her from scientist to theologian, and from traditional cloistered nun to a leading proponent of evolution and cyborg life.

“Every human life is the cosmos winding its way into the future. Every life makes a difference to the life of the whole. I have come to know that the fire in my heart is the fire in the heart of the universe and that its flames will not be extinguished.”

Order the book here.

How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere: An Anthology of Spiritual Memoirs
Andrew B. Davis, Philip Clayton editors (2018)

How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere: An Anthology of Spiritual Memoirs Much can be gained from trailing the spiritual narratives of those who have traveled ahead of us, for the God they have found, we may never have considered. How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere captures for a general audience the spiritual shift away from popular notions of a God “up there” and “out there” and toward immanent and inclusive understandings of a God in our very midst. It’s built around the fascinating personal journeys of a close-knit group of prominent contributors including Ilia Delio, Cynthia Bourgeault, Deepak Chopra, Richard Rohr, Rupert Sheldrake, Matthew Fox, Keith Ward and others.

As these diverse spiritual memoirs testify, for many today, the spiritual journey has lead to the discovery of a divine reality that, it turns out, we already inhabit, one that encompasses us all. Sometimes called “panentheism,” this relational and participatory vision is allowing for a “return to God after God” and thus a continuation of the spiritual journey. This God is not found in some people and some places, but in everyone and everywhere. Watch a short video about this book here.

A Hunger for Wholeness: Soul, Space, and Transcendence
Ilia Delio (2018)

A Hunger for Wholeness: Soul, Space, and TranscendenceJesuit scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a keen observer of nature, posited two types of energy in the universe: tangential energy/energy of attraction and radial energy/energy of transcendence in other words, love and consciousness, which correspond to the inner and outer dimensions of nature, respectively.

Moreover, as theologian Ilia Delio points out, nature is never at rest; indeed, Nature [is] on a continuous trajectory of transcendence. The Big Bang universe is a story of space but it is also a story of consciousness and love.

The author builds not only on the thought of Teilhard and others but also on the findings of quantum physics to deliver a thought-provoking, deeply insightful reflection on the relationship of God, humanity, and nature in an ever-evolving cosmos.

Personal Transformation and a New Creation: The Spiritual Revolution of Beatrice Bruteau
Ilia Delio, Editor (2016)Personal Transformation and a New Creation: The Spiritual Revolution of Beatrice BruteauTop scholars examine the theories of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin through the lens of Beatrice Bruteau’s pioneering work on evolution and consciousness. Contributors include Cynthia Bourgeault, Ursula King, Barbara Fiand, Kerrie Hide, Gabrielle Stoner, Kathleen Duffy, John Shea, Carla De Sola, and Joshua Tysinger.

Other Books by Ilia

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