Galileo’s 2 missing fingers and a tooth found. Admirers removed parts in 1737, which will be put on display, museum says
Two fingers and a tooth removed from Galileo Galilei’s corpse in a Florentine basilica in the 18th century and given up for lost have been found again and will soon be put on display, an Italian museum director said Friday.
Three fingers, a vertebra and a tooth were removed from the astronomer’s body by admirers in 1737, 95 years after his death, as his corpse was being moved from a storage place to a monumental tomb — opposite that of Michelangelo, in Santa Croce Basilica in Florence.
One of the fingers was recovered soon afterward and is now part of the collection of the Museum of the History of Science, in Florence. The vertebra has been kept at the University of Padua, where Galileo taught for years.
But the tooth and two fingers from the scientist’s right hand — the thumb and middle finger — were kept by one of the admirers, an Italian marquis, and later enclosed in a container that was passed on from generation to generation in the same family, Paolo Galluzzi, the museum’s director, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
“But with time, the generations lost knowledge of what was actually inside the container,” and the family sold it, Galluzzi said. By 1905, all traces of the relics had disappeared, “leading scholars to hypothesize that these singular specimens had been definitely lost,” the museum said in a statement.
This is sick. They should bury poor Galileo’s remaining parts with the rest of him and honor his contributions to history.