How Galileo's finger was found missing almost 300 years ago
How Galileo's finger was found missing almost 300 years ago
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Great Galileo and his finger

Everyone in Florence knows where Galileo Galilei is buried. His remains rest in the crypt of the famous Basilica of Santa Croce, the city's main Franciscan church. The 16th century scholar sleeps eternally next to renowned Italian colleagues such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli, poet Foscolo, philosopher, pagan and composer Rossini. And yet his grave has its own, special mystery.

When Galileo Galilei died in 1642, the Grand Duke of Tuscany decided to bury him in the family crypt of the Basilica of Santa Croce, next to the graves of his father and other ancestors. But Pope Urban declared Galileo a heretic and an enemy of the church, and forbade him to do so. As a result, the scientist was buried in a small crypt next to the chapel of the novices.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

After his death, everyone forgot about the works of Galileo, and only half a century later, the Englishman Isaac Newton published the revolutionary book "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", in which he outlined the foundations of classical mechanics. The universal law of gravitation and Newton's law of motion proved that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not vice versa, and that Galileo was right. In 1718, in an attempt to correct its mistake, the church lifted the ban on Galileo's works, and in 1737 his body was exhumed and reburied with honors in the main building of the basilica.

Statue of Galileo in Florence

However, before reburying Galileo, some of his most ardent admirers, who sought to acquire "souvenirs", dismembered the great Italian's corpse, depriving him of three fingers, breaking a tooth and a vertebra. The vertebra made its way to the University of Padua, where Galileo taught for many years, while the tooth and fingers changed hands over the centuries until they went missing in 1905.

Galileo's finger found in a wooden case

More than a century later, in 2009, fingers and a tooth mysteriously surfaced at auction, along with other religious relics contained in a 17th century wooden case. The objects were sold as unidentified artifacts, and Alberto Bruschi, a renowned art collector from Florence, bought the collection without knowing what it was.

Galileo's middle finger, which is exposed in a transparent "Easter egg"

When Mr. Bruski and his daughter noticed that the wooden box was crowned with a bust of Galileo and learned that parts of the scientist's body had been cut off during his burial, they turned to the museum. Tests and research have confirmed that finally, centuries later, the missing remains of Galileo were found.

Galileo's tomb in the Basilica of Santa Croce

Today, visitors to the Museo Galileo, located a short walk from the Tomb of Galileo in the Basilica of Santa Croce, can see Galileo's mummified middle finger. This artifact is displayed in a transparent Easter egg. The museum also contains many artifacts that belonged to the scientist: two telescopes that have survived to this day, thermometers and an extraordinary collection of terrestrial and celestial globes.

And in continuation of the topic more 10 most interesting ancient artifacts that were found completely by accident.

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