By EDWARD S. HOLDEN, Sc.D., LL.D.,
U. S. MILITARY ACADEMY.
AN extant annotation dated February 26, 1616, which is undoubtedly genuine, declares that upon this day Galileo was summoned before Cardinal Bellarmine and in the presence of witnesses was warned of the error of the Copernican opinion taught by him, and was admonished henceforth not to hold, teach or defend it in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing . . . which injunction the said Galileo promised to obey. The exact wording should be noticed. Upon it the subsequent fate of Galileo hangs. The document is genuine. Does it represent the facts of his examination of 1616 exactly as they occurred?
The proceedings against Galileo in 1632-3 show that the Pope and the Holy Office acted precisely as if the statements of the annotation were exact. The publication of his Dialogues (1631) was a flagrant violation of the command not to teach, etc. In the case of a personage so celebrated as Galileo nothing less than a flagrant violation would be noticed. The Roman Curia could not afford to harass him about trifles. With his defense of 1633 he submitted the following certificate:
Galileo's enemies had spread the calumnious reports mentioned. He wished to have a proof that they were false. Cardinal Bellarmine
- Continued from the Popular Science Monthly for February, 1905.
- According to the terms of this certificate Galileo never had ‘held’ the Copernican opinion—or at least he had never ‘abjured’ it. The annotation of February 26, 1616, commands him to ‘relinquish’ it.
- The words respecting teaching are not here given, it is to be remarked.