Galileo's Middle Finger of Fate: Flipping the Bird to the Roman Inquisition at Long Last
Poor Galileo... condemned by the Pope for heresy in 1633. A gag order and under house arrest was his fate. Would he ever have the last word on the science he so loved and believed in?
Galileo Galilei is widely considered the Father of Science, having championed heliocentrism, the fact that the earth and planets move around the sun rather than the Roman Catholic Church's view of geocentrism with everything in the Universe revolving around the flat Earth. He was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which concluded that his scientific views were false and contrary to scripture. Books contrary to the Church's position were banned and Galileo was forbidden from advocating heliocentrism. Galileo seemingly attacked the Pope in his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which caused him to be put on trial where he was convicted of heresy and kept under house arrest for the rest of his life.
Recently, from his grave (or parts nearby), Galileo stuck up his middle finger to the Inquisition once and for all.
The finger was cut from Galileo's mummified corpse by Anton Francesco Gori in 1737 when Galileo's remains were transferred from a small closet next to the chapel of Saints Cosmas and Damian to the main body of the church of Santa Croce.... Pretty Gori, huh? (Sorry, couldn't resist.) The finger was sold several times and moved around quite a bit without pointing in any particular direction (sorry again). For many years it was displayed in Biblioteca Laurenziana. It seems that his middle finger (and a thumb and tooth--don't ask) were rediscovered, so to speak, and verified and are now on display at the Museo Galileo (formerly the Florence History of Science Museum).
Is he flipping the bird at the people who condemned him or merely pointing at the heavens above which he loved and believed in so much? We all know how Italians use hand gestures to communicate, but is this going to far--from the grave?
Being a bit of a rebel like Galileo, I'd prefer to picture him sticking it up in the face of his accusers and yelling "Cazzone!" (look it up)
--Jerry Finzi Like this post? SHARE it with friends. Grazie!
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