Wayback Wednesday: Galileo Silenced 1616

Posted on Updated on

Galileo Before Holy Office Image One
Artist: Joseph-Nicolas Robert Fleury Original Image: library.thinkquest.org Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org

They really wanted Galileo to shut up. Four hundred, four years, today, the Catholic Church was nearly successful with an injunction. Referred to as the Galileo Affair, it started in 1610 and ended in 1633 with the Roman Inquistion.

Galileo got into trouble for supporting Copernican Heliocentrism, the mathematical model put forth by Nicolaus Copernicus (see Copernican Revolution), that suggested the Earth, and other planets, revolve around the sun at the center of the Solar System, opposing Geocentrism, backed by the Catholic Church.

Moons of Jupiter Image Two
Voyager 1 Montage October 30, 1998 Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org


In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), describing the surprising observations that he had made with [a] new telescope, among them, the Galilean Moons of Jupiter. With these observations, and additional observations that followed, such as the phases of Venus, he promoted the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus published in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543. Galileo’s discoveries were met with opposition within the Catholic Church and, in 1616, the Inquisition declared heliocentrism to be “formally heretical.” Heliocentric books were banned and Galileo was ordered to abstain from holding, teaching or defending heliocentric ideas.

Librorum Prohibitorum Image Three
List of Books Banned by the Catholic Church Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org


On February 19, 1616, the Inquisition asked a commission of theologians, known as qualifiers, about the propositions of the heliocentric view of the universe. [It was] confirmed that Galileo had advocated the Copernican doctrines of a stationary Sun, and a mobile Earth, and as a consequence, the Tribunal of the Inquisition would have eventually needed to determine the theological status of those doctrines.


On February 24, the Qualifiers delivered their unanimous report:

“[The] proposition that the Sun is stationary at the centre of the universe is foolish and absurd in philosophy and, formally, heretical since it explicitly contradicts, in many places, the sense of Holy Scripture. [The] proposition that the Earth moves and is not at the centre of the universe receives the same judgement in philosophy and … in regard to theological truth, it is at least erroneous in faith.”

At a meeting of the cardinals of the Inquisition on the following day, Pope Paul V instructed [Cardinal] Bellarmine to deliver this result to Galileo and to order him to abandon the Copernican opinions. [Should] Galileo resist the decree, stronger action would be taken. On February 26, Galileo was called to Bellarmine’s residence and ordered:

“[To] abstain completely from teaching or defending this doctrine and opinion or, from discussing it… to abandon completely… the opinion that the [Sun] stands still at the center of the world and the [Earth] moves and, henceforth, not to hold, teach or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”

Galileo accepted the order. He didn’t have much choice as his reputation was at stake. Shortly afterwards, all books regarding the Copernican system were banned and Galileo’s works regarding Copernicanism were banned as well. His sentence prevented him from teaching or speaking of the matter further. He remained silent only for so long.

Additional Reading:
The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History (Wayback Machine)
The Trial of Galileo: Essential Documents (Google Books)
The 1616 Documents (Douglas Allchin’s Website)

Very interesting take on what actually happened…

7 thoughts on “Wayback Wednesday: Galileo Silenced 1616

    JT Twissel said:
    February 27, 2020 at 6:40 PM

    It amazes me how many people think God wrote the Bible. As the song goes “It ain’t necessarily so … the things that you’re liable to read in the Bible … they ain’t necessarily so.” God gave man curiosity and therefore expects him to think and explore. Otherwise we’d all be sponges. (maybe we are?)

    badfinger20 said:
    February 28, 2020 at 10:31 AM

    It was a very legalistic way of looking at the verses…they took it way too literal…they sure didn’t take “no graven images” to literal.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      February 28, 2020 at 4:05 PM

      They interpreted scripture anyway that would benefit them. I love the part about only the Pope, priests, bishops and theologians could interpret scripture, not the common man (Galileo’s heresy). I see parallels to the lame-stream-media “interpreting” for us what we “need” to know and trying to shut up alt-media. “There is nothing new under Heaven & Earth.”

        badfinger20 said:
        February 28, 2020 at 4:13 PM

        Yes they do it for their benefit. I didn’t get that out of the scriptures they targeted.
        I’ve always wondered how they got around the no graven images part.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          February 28, 2020 at 4:15 PM

          Ya’ got me.

          Perhaps, it should be “There is nothing new under the Sun.”

    bereavedandbeingasingleparent said:
    February 28, 2020 at 8:22 PM

    This is never taught in school. Yet it’s so interesting.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      February 29, 2020 at 12:23 AM

      I agree.

      My latest post is the same way…not taught.

Leave a Reply...Share A Thought

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.