Because of his assertion that the Earth revolved around the sun, Galileo was excommunicated by the Church in 1633. Upon his death in 1642, the Inquisition refused to bury him on consecrated ground. Therefore he was originally buried at the Noviate Chapel in Santa Croce under the Campanile.
His body was moved inside the Church of Santa Croce and buried in an unmarked corner because Pope Urban VIII refused an actual memorial to be built. It was documented that Galileo’s pupil, Viviani, was buried next to him inside of Santa Croce after his death in 1703. In 1737, the tomb was completed by architect and mathematician Giovan Battista Nelli, a pupil of Viviani and their bodies were moved. However, a third coffin, belonging to Galileo’s daughter Suor Maria Celeste, was discovered when the bodies were moved.
His tomb now sits directly across from Michelangelo’s monument for “it was believed that Michelangelo’s spirit leapt into Galileo’s body between the former’s death and the latter’s birth.”
The condemnation imposed on Galileo was only canceled by the Pope recently in 1992. Along with Michelangelo and Galileo, other famous Florentine’s buried in Santa Croce include Machiavelli, Rossini and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Address: Piazza Santa Croce 16
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