Several body parts of the astronomer Galileo was stolen in 1905. They were earlier cut from his body by the Vatican, when Galileo was buried 95 years after his death.

This is supposed to be the finger of astronomer Galileo kept for display in Florence, Italy.

An art collector has found a tooth, thumb and finger of the famous renaissance astronomer Galileo that had been missing for more than a century.

The body parts, cut from his corpse when the Vatican finally allowed the controversial Italian scientist a church burial 95 years after his death in 1642, vanished in 1905.

But they appeared at a recent auction as unidentified artefacts contained in a 17th century wooden case. The unnamed collector who bought the relics suspected they might belong to Galileo.

Galileo is considered the father of modern science. Now his finger is put on display.

The finger of astronomer Galileo is kept for display in Florence.
The relics of Galileo is not to be found in his tomb. There some body parts will be missing.

Experts at Florence’s History of Science museum compared them with another finger and vertebrae also cut from the scientist and confirmed they were indeed Galileo’s.

What is the story behind the relics of Galileo, and his relationship with the Roman Catholic Church?

Lets do a proper investigation.

The relics are now kept for display in Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze.

“All the organic material extracted from the corpse has therefore now been identified and is conserved in responsible hands”, a spokesman for the museum said.

“On the basis of considerable historical documentation, there are no doubts about the authenticity of the items”

The relics will be exhibited from early 2010, when the museum will re-open after current renovation work and will change its name to the Galileo museum.

 The Tomb of Galileo at the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy.

Galileo, born Galilei Galileo at Pisa in Pisa in 1564, is considered one of the fathers of modern science. His achievements include developing the telescope and observing that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

British physicist once said: ‘Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science.’

But he became an enemy of the Catholic Church, of which he was a member, by challenging its teachings. Clerics eventually denounced him to the Roman Inquisition in 1615 over his support of a heliocentric, or Sun-centered, view of the universe.

Although he was cleared of any offence at that time, the Church condemned his belief as ‘false and contrary to Scripture’ and Galileo promised to stop publishing it.

In non of the paintings of Galileo there is a smile. So its impossible to see if the found tooth really is his.

But in 1632, when he defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, he was again tried by the Inquisition.

It found he was “vehemently suspect of heresy” and Galileo was forced to recant and spend the rest of his life under house arrest. However, following his death, evidence for a heliocentric universe became so overwhelming that the Vatican’s opposition gradually buckled.

In 1737 they finally allowed his body to be buried in consecrated ground and he now lies in Florence’s Santa Croce church, opposite the tomb of Michelangelo

By now because he was so revered, it was decided that parts of his body should be removed and preserved for posterity.

Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti, a science historian who cut away the parts and wrote about the ceremony, ‘confessed he had found it hard to resist the temptation to take away the skull which had housed such extraordinary genius’, the museum said.

The newly-found relics had passed from one collector to another until they went missing in 1905.

The remaining finger and the vertebrae have been conserved since 1737 in a mummified state in museums in Florence and Padua.

Galileo was rehabilitated by late pope John Paul II in the early 1990’s.

Source: The Daily Mail.

My comment:

The removal of a tooth from the astronomer Galileo’s body raises a lot of questions.

The Catholic Church claims there was a robbery of these relics in the year 1905.

I am not sure who is the rightful owner of the dead body of a man that was excommunicated by the Vatican.

And since Galileo was excommunicated, and spoke out against the Pope, how come his teeth can be holy?

Since Galileo was pardoned 95 years after his death, we all must wonder if this tooth became holy before of after the skeleton was moved to a Roman Catholic grave yard.

The not so holy false teeth of Winston Churchill.

Another question that should be answered by the Pope is:

What happens to holy items when they are robbed?

Do they loose their holiness?

What about the robber. Can he become holy when touching and kissing such holy items?

If the Pope can not answer such question, I feel we need to go an consult a dentist.

I just read that Winston Churchill’s false teeth was sold for over USD 23,000 at an auction. Since I am a living saint, It might be interesting to know the value of one of my tooth.