Heliocentrism Condemned: 400 Years Ago on March 11

Galileo was granted an audience with Paul V on Friday March 11, 1616, only six days after the publication of the Decree (which we examined last Saturday) condemning the "Pythagorean" error. This is how Galileo reported about the events to the Tuscan Secretary of State:

Most Illustrious Lord and Most Honorable Patron,
I have already reported to Your Most Illustrious Lordship the decision taken by the Congregation of the Index about Copernicus's book, namely that his opinion does not agree with Holy Scripture and therefore the book is suspended until corrected. The correction will be made soon. [It took four years: The correction was made on May 15, 1620.] The only passage involved is in the Preface to Pope Paul III, where he mentions that his opinion does not contradict Scripture; and some words will be removed from the ending of chapter 10 of book 1, where, after explaining the arrangement of his system, he writes: "Such truly is the size of this structure of the Almighty's." [The corrections were somewhat more extensive.]
Yesterday I went to kiss the feet of His Holiness [Paul V], with whom I strolled and reasoned for three-quarters of an hour during a very warm audience. I first paid my respects to him in the name of our rulers the Most Serene Highnesses; he accepted them warmly and ordered me to return them with equal warmth. Then I related to His Holiness the reason for my coming here [to Rome]. I told him how, just before leaving, I had renounced any favor which their Most Serene Highnesses could have done me, as long as it was a question of religion and integrity of life and morals, and he approved of my decision with much repeated praise. I pointed out to His Holiness the maliciousness of my persecutors and some of their false calumnies, and here he answered that he was aware of my integrity and sincerity. Finally, since I appeared somewhat insecure because of the thought that I would be always persecuted by their implacable malice, he consoled me by saying that I could live with my mind at peace, for I was so regarded by His Holiness and the whole Congregation [of the Holy Office] that they would not easily listen to the slanderers, and that I could feel safe as long as he lived. Before I left he told me many times that he was very ready at every occasion to show me also with actions his strong inclination to favor me. I have been glad to report this to Your Most Illustrious Lordship, thinking that you would be pleased with it, as also would their Most Serene Highnesses, in view of their humaneness.
Finally, I remind you that I am your very devout servant, I humbly kiss your hands, and I pray the Lord God to give you the greatest happiness.
Rome, March 12, 1616.
To Your Most Illustrious Lordship,
Your Most Devout and Most Obliged Servant,
Galileo Galilei
(Favaro, XII, 247-249; trans. Finocchiaro, pp. 151-153)


Fr. Paul Gabor

About Fr. Paul Gabor

Fr. Paul Gabor SJ was born in 1969 in Košice, Slovakia. He studied Particle Physics at Charles University Prague, Czech Republic (1988-1995). His work was primarily instrumental, participating in the development of the ATLAS detector for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland.

He entered the Society of Jesus in 1995, did his 2-year novitiate in Kolin, Czech Republic, then 2 years of Philosophy studies in Cracow, Poland. After this, he taught philosophy for a year in Olomouc, Czech Republic, and studied Theology in Paris, France. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2004. After ordination, he earned a PhD in astrophysics in 2009 in Paris, where he again opted for instrumentation, working with Alain Léger, the author of the proposed Darwin space observatory. Gabor's work under Alain Léger was carried out at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, University of Paris XI, focusing on two optical test beds, SYNAPSE and NULLTIMATE.

Fr. Gabor is interested in the tests of achromatic phase shifters, stabilization (through optical path dithering), wave front filtering (with single mode fibers), polarization and other issues regarding the implementation of nulling interferometry, techniques and instrumentation that can be used to discover planets orbiting other stars.

Fr. Gabor joined the Vatican Observatory in September 2010. He became its Vice Director in September 2012 and is in charge of its Research Group in Tucson.

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