Nueva luz en el caso Galileo

New light in the Galileo case

Author: Mariano Artigas (University of Navarra, Pamplona), Rafael Martínez (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Rome) and William R. Shea (Université de Strasbourg).
Published in: yearbook de Historia de la Iglesia (School de Teología, Universidad de Navarra), 12 (2003), pp. 159-179.
Date of publication: 2003


New light on the Galileo case
Redondi's reinterpretation of the Galileo case
Galileo's Copernican campaign
The conflict with Orazio Grassi
The denounced assayer
EE 291
The author of EE 291
The date of EE 291
The date and authorship of G3
G3, EE 291 and the Galileo case
The meaning of EE 291
appendix I: the original Latin document EE 291
appendix II: the Spanish version of EE 291


A new document concerning the Galileo case was discovered by Mariano Artigas in December 1999 in the archives of the Holy See official document. Artigas communicated his finding to William R. Shea. They then turned to Rafael Martínez and asked him to join the team. Martínez transcribed the document and carried out an extensive research in Italian archives, which has allowed the identification of the author. This has made it possible to link the document to the work of the special Commission appointed by Pope Urban VIII in August 1632 to decide whether Galileo should be summoned to appear before the Holy official document in Rome. This article describes the new document (called by Artigas EE 291), discusses its authorship, and examines some consequences for our knowledge of the Galileo case.

Palabras core topic: Galileo case, Saint official document, Urban VIII, Robert Bellarmine, geocentrism.


In 1999, a new document related to the Galileo affair was discovered by Mariano Artigas in the archives of the Holy Office. Artigas communicated his discovery to William R. Shea. Afterwards, they asked Rafael Martínez to join the team. Martínez transcribed the document and conducted extensive research in the Italian archives. This allowed the researchers to identify the author of the document. This result led to establish a link between the document and the work of the Special Commission designated by Pope Urban VIII in August 1632. The Commission was created in order to decide whether Galileo ought to appear before the Holy Office in Rome. In this article, the new document (named EE 291 by Artigas) is described, its authorship is discussed, and its implications for our knowledge of the Galileo affair are examined.

Keywords: the Galileo affair, Holy Office, Urban VIII, Robert Bellarmine, geocentrism.

A new document concerning the Galileo case was discovered by Mariano Artigas in December 1999 in the archives of the Holy official document, which are located in the palace of the Holy official document, next to St. Peter's place in Rome. Rafael Martínez transcribed the document and carried out an extensive research in Italian archives, which has allowed the identification of the author. This, in turn, has made it possible to link the document to the work of the special Commission appointed by Pope Urban VIII in August 1632 to decide whether Galileo should be summoned to appear before the Holy official document in Rome.

Pope Paul III instituted the Congregation of the Roman Inquisition, generally known as the Holy official document, in 1542, to defend the Catholic Church against heresy, which at that time meant the Protestant Reformation. When Pope Paul VI transformed the Congregation in 1965, he called it the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Holy official document collaborated with the Congregation of the Index of Forbidden Books, created in 1571, which published successive editions of an Index or list of forbidden books until 1917, when it was absorbed by the Holy official document. Both congregations played a central role in the Galileo case. Our story deals with the years 1610-1633, at a time when Rome was engaged in the Counter-Reformation, highlighting aspects of Catholic doctrine that helped to counteract the effects of Protestantism. Two of these are particularly relevant to the Galileo case. The first is the emphasis on reading the Scriptures from agreement with the tradition represented mainly by the Holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. The second is the affirmation of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, explained by the concept of "transubstantiation". This second aspect has direct implications for the new document.

In this article we describe the new document (called by Artigas EE 291 for the reasons indicated below), discuss its authorship, and examine some consequences for our knowledge of the GAlileo case *(1). The original Latin text and its translation into Spanish can be found in Appendices I and II. We must begin by examining G3, another document discovered in 1982, because the new document is a continuation of G3.

 New light in the Galileo case

The volumes containing the files (Protocolli) of the Congregation of the Index are numbered with the capital letters A, B, C.... AA (or A2), BB (or B2), etc. The new document discovered by Artigas is bound in volume EE (or E2). In the same volume Pietro Redondi found in 1982 another three-page document, unknown until then, which is generally identified by the acronym "G3" at the top of the first page (nobody knows what "G3" means).

G3 is a denunciation of the atomism that Galileo defended in his 1623 book Il Saggiatore (The Assayer) *(2), where he claims that sensible qualities have no objective reality, but are merely the result of the way atoms affect our sense organs. Colours, tastes, smells, or tactile characteristics exist, as such, only in the persons who experience them, not in the objects themselves. The anonymous author of G3 believed that this interpretation of sensible qualities was at odds with the doctrine of the Eucharist expressed by the concept of transubstantiation, a term used to indicate that, after the consecration at Mass, the substance of the bread and wine is no longer found, but the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Of the bread and wine only the accidental characteristics (colour, odour, general appearance) remain, miraculously sustained by the power of God. No miracle would be necessary if these characteristics were mere names.

On the basis of the G3 document, Redondi proposed a reinterpretation of the Galileo case, according to which Pope Urban VIII, a friend and admirer of Galileo for years, manipulated the process in such a way that Galileo had to face "only" the accusation of Copernicanism, and not the more serious accusation contained in G3*(3). Few people have accepted this interpretation, but the new document calls for a re-examination of the meaning and use of G3.

 Redondi's reinterpretation of the Galileo case

Galileo used the newly invented telescope to observe the heavens in the autumn of 1609. He published his spectacular observations in 1610, and in 1611 he went to Rome, where the Jesuits of the Roman high school gave him a hero's welcome. The discoveries that brought him fame included the rocky surface of the moon, the existence of new stars, the nature of the Milky Way, the satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Venus.

Galileo was already a Copernican, but he presented his views cautiously. His discoveries threatened the traditional view that the Earth is at rest at the centre of the universe, but they did not constitute a test final of the Copernican system. Some Aristotelian professors first, and then a couple of friars, thought that Galileo's heliocentrism was at odds with a literal interpretation of Scripture, and denounced him to the Holy official document in Rome. In 1615 Galileo decided to take a stronger position and went to Rome to defend the motion of the Earth. The result was not a happy one. Copernicus' book On Revolutions was banned by the Congregation of the Index on 5 March 1616, and Galileo was admonished privately, but nevertheless officially, not to teach Copernicanism in any way. Although reluctantly, Galileo agreed.

In 1623 Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, a Florentine who had praised Galileo's achievements, was elected Pope under the name of Urban VIII. Galileo had recently helped his nephew, Francesco Barberini, to obtain his doctorate at the University of Pisa, and the cardinal had written to express his thanks. The postscript to his letter is written in his own hand, and leaves no doubt about his feelings. "I am greatly indebted," he writes on 24 June 1623, "to Your Lordship for your continued affection for me and the members of my family, and I wish to have an opportunity to reciprocate. I assure you that you will find in me a most ready disposition to serve you, in consideration of your great merit and the gratitude I owe you" *(4). Events moved quickly, and less than two months after writing this letter, Maffeo Barberini had become Urban VIII, and was about to appoint his nephew, who was only 27 years old, as a member of the high school of cardinals. Francesco became the pope's right-hand man.

Two of Galileo's good friends, Giovanni Ciampoli and Virginio Cesarini, also held important positions in the Vatican curia. Cesarini was appointed secret waiter, and Ciampoli secretary for correspondence with the princes. With these favourable auspices Galileo felt that the time had come to renew his campaign for Copernicanism, and in 1624 he left for Rome, where he had the rare privilege of being received by the Pope six times in six weeks. Although the 1616 decree of the Index against Copernicus' work was not suspended, Galileo thought he could now discuss the motion of the Earth, provided he did not declare it to be the only system that conformed to astronomical observations.

But there was a danger of a serious misunderstanding. Maffeo Barberini, while a cardinal, had advised Galileo to treat Copernicanism as a hypothesis, not as confirmed truth. But "hypothesis" meant two very different things. On the one hand, astronomers were supposed to deal only with hypotheses, i.e., conjectures about the motions of the stars and planets that were not intended to be real truths. Astronomical theories were merely tools for calculation and prediction, a view that is often called "instrumentalism". On the other hand, a hypothesis could also be understood as a theory that had not yet been tested but was open to eventual confirmation. This was the position of "realism". Galileo thought that Copernicanism was true. He presented it as a hypothesis, that is, as an idea provisional that was potentially true in the physical world, and discussed the pros and cons, leaving the matter open for decision. This did not correspond to the instrumentalist view of Copernicanism as Maffeo Barberini and others saw it. They thought that the Copernican system was a mere conceptual instrument, and Maffeo Barberini was convinced that it could never be proved. This ambiguity dominated the whole Galileo case.

 Galileo's Copernican campaign

Unfortunately, Galileo had embarked at the time on a conflict with the Jesuit Father Orazio Grassi, which did not help his relationship with the Jesuits. He polemicised with Grassi in his book The Assayer (Il Saggiatore), a witty and devastating work that was loudly acclaimed, not so much by scientists as by writers and men of letters.

The assayer was part of a long-running conflict between Galileo and Grassi. Three comets had appeared in 1618, and Grassi had discussed them in a lecture at the high school Romano *(5). Galileo responded with the speech on comets *(6), delivered by Mario Guiducci, his disciple and faithful friend. Galileo probably undertook this polemic because it seemed to him that Grassi's ideas could be used to support Tycho Brahe's geocentrism against Copernicus' heliocentrism. Grassi in turn responded with his Libra *(7), published under the pseudonym Lothario Sarsi. Writing under a pseudonym was not unusual among Jesuits when discussing non-theological topics, as they did not wish to involve their religious order in such discussions. Galileo's friends encouraged him to reply, which he did with The Assayer in 1623. In this work we find the famous passage where Galileo attacks the celebrated passage in which Galileo mocks the Jesuit because he thinks

that Philosophy is a book of fiction created by a man, like The Iliad or The Orlando Furioso, books in which the least important thing is whether what is written is true. Mr Sarsi [Grassi's pseudonym], this is not the way things are. The Philosophy is written in that great book that is always before our eyes - I mean the universe - but we cannot understand it unless we first learn the language and understand the symbols in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose financial aid it is humanly impossible to understand a single word, and without which one wanders uselessly in a dark labyrinth *(8).

Urban VIII, who liked to have someone read to him during meals, listened to a issue of passages from the work as soon as it was published in October 1623, and the one we have just quoted is probably one of the chosen ones. In any case, the Pope liked the book so much that he took it with him to read in his leisure time.

 The conflict with Orazio Grassi

Not everyone in Rome was as enthusiastic as the Pope, and Galileo suspected that his enemies (a large category) were plotting against him. When he returned to Florence in June 1624, he heard rumours that his theory of sensible qualities was being criticised, and asked Mario Guiducci, who was in Rome, to investigate. On 21 June 1624, Guiducci gave him the following news:

I hear everywhere rumours of the war with which Grassi is threatening us, to the point that I am inclined to believe that he has his reply ready. On the other hand, I cannot see where he can attack us, since Count Virginio Malvezzi is virtually certain that he cannot take a step against your [Galileo's] opinion on the nature of heat, taste, smell, and so on. The Count says that you must have written that to give rise to a discussion for which you must be armed to the teeth *(9).

For the next few months, Guiducci kept his ears open, but the rumour seemed to fade. On 18 April 1625, however, he had a new piece of gossip to send. It had come from Federico Cesi, the founder of the Accademia dei Lincei, and concerned "a pious person" who had order official document to ban The Assayer because it defended the motion of the Earth. The Pope's nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, had decided to investigate the matter and had entrusted Father Giovanni Guevara with the task of examining the work. Guevara saw no reason to condemn the "doctrine concerning motion" found in the book, and the Holy Father official document dropped the matter. But Galileo did not discuss the motion of the Earth in The Assayer, and this incident puzzled historians until Pietro Redondi discovered the G3 document, which sheds light on the problem. The "doctrine concerning the motion" in G3 refers not to the motion of the Earth but to the motion of atoms, which is precisely what is mentioned in The Assayer. The information that Guiducci had passed on to Galileo was not only second-hand, it was wrong. He himself, or his informant, had misunderstood "motion" as referring to the Earth, when in fact it referred to atoms. Galileo does not discuss in The Assayer the motion of the planets, but how atoms cause heat, and in that context he denies the objectivity of sensible qualities:

As soon as I think of a material object or a corporeal substance, I immediately feel the necessity of conceiving that it is limited and has this or that form, that it is large or small in comparison with others, that it is in this or that place at a given time, that it moves or remains still, that it touches or does not touch another body, and that it is one, few, or many. I cannot separate it from these conditions by any effort of my imagination. But my mind feels no obligation to understand as necessary accompaniments that it must be white or red, sweet or bitter, noisy or silent, good-smelling or bad-smelling. In fact, without the senses to guide us, reason or imagination alone might never arrive at such qualities. I think that tastes, smells, colours and the like are no more than names as far as the subject in which they seem to reside is concerned, and that they exist only in the body that perceives them. Thus, if all living creatures were taken away, all these qualities would also be taken away and annihilated *(10).

Some people, such as the author of G3, might, in good faith, regard this passage as incompatible with the permanence of true accidents in the Eucharist, but the Holy official document saw no reason to proceed against Galileo. The Church had for centuries used the concept of 'transubstantiation' in formulating the doctrine of the Eucharist, but without giving that word a technical meaning. The Church declares that the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, while the appearances of bread and wine remain. It is noteworthy that in the definitions of the Council of Trent the term "accident" is not used. Instead, the Council speaks of "species", that is, appearances, and ordinarily of "the species of bread" or "the species of wine", in the singular. Although the concept of substance was taken at loan from the Aristotelian Philosophy , the Council did not intend to enter into a philosophical discussion, as it explicitly noted. The appearances of bread and wine after consecration are the same whatever scientific or philosophical explanation is offered about the reality of sensible qualities. Father Guevara, adviser to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, was right when he said that Galileo's theory of the motion of atoms did not contradict the doctrine of the Church. If the accusation had referred to the motion of the Earth, Guevara would surely have specified that this subject was not dealt with in The Assayer. The denunciation contained in G3 remained quietly in the archives for several centuries, until Redondi discovered it and used it to reinterpret the Galileo case. We will return to it after examining the new document discovered by Mariano Artigas.

 The assayer complained of

On 9 December 1999 Artigas was working in the Archives of the Congregation of the Index of Banned Books, looking for documents related to the Church's position on the theory of evolution. But he was also preparing a book on Galileo at partnership with William Shea, and it occurred to him that it might be useful to have a look at the G3 document. He asked for volume EE, in which Redondi's paper occupies folios 292 (recto and verso) and 293 (recto). When he was given the volume, he remembered that Redondi, in his book, said that he was not allowed to look at anything but that document. The archives had not yet been opened to the public and access was very restricted. However, seventeen years later the archives had become fully accessible to researchers and Artigas was able to examine the volume at his leisure.

The document immediately before G3 turned out to be another anonymous and undated document dealing with the same topic. It occupies folio 291 recto and half of the verso. This is why Artigas called it EE 291 *(11). While Redondi's G3 is in Italian, EE 291 is in Latin. It does not mention Galileo by name, but the text begins with the words: "I saw the speech of the Lynx", an unequivocal reference letter to Galileo, who had been admitted to the Academy of the Lynx in 1611, and was proud to put Lynx on the frontispiece of his books, as he did in the case of The Assayer, the work considered in G3. The fact that EE 291 is found immediately before G3 confirms that the discussion of the alleged incompatibility of Galileo's interpretation of sensible qualities with the doctrine of the Eucharist is related to what he had written in The Assayer. Artigas immediately realised that he had found an unknown and unpublished document, and suspected that it might be relevant to the Galileo case.

EE 291 is less carefully written than G3, and has some issue handwritten corrections. order This would seem to indicate that the author of EE 291 was familiar with the Index Congregation, and had been asked to write an internal report on how to proceed with the accusation made in G3. EE 291 consists of an introductory paragraph, eight numbered sections, and a conclusion. The author is critical of Galileo's views on atomism, and concludes that the Holy official document could proceed with a formal research .

Artigas communicated his finding to Shea, and both found it difficult to interpret EE 291 without first determining the author and the date of composition. They then turned to Rafael Martínez and asked him to join the team.

 EE 291

Rafael Martinez undertook a systematic study of the volume in which EE 291 appears, and found two documents in the same handwriting signed by the Jesuit Melchior Inchofer. The son of an officer in the imperial army, Inchofer was born in Köszeg in Hungary around 1585, and died in Milan on 28 September 1648. He went to Rome to study at the German-Hungarian high school in 1605, and entered the Society of Jesus as a novice on 26 March 1607. He spent the rest of his life mainly in Italy, except for a brief period in Graz in Austria *(12).

Inchofer was probably a member of the preliminary Commission appointed by Urban VIII to examine Galileo's Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World in the summer of 1632*(13). The following year he was asked, together with A. Oregio and Z. Pasqualigo, to rule on work for the Holy official document, and to determine whether Galileo had disobeyed the injunction not to write about Copernicanism that he had received in 1616. All three were unanimous in saying that Galileo had contravened the order, but Inchofer was particularly incisive in his report and, in the same year, published in Rome a book graduate Tractatus Syllepticus against the motion of the earth *(14).

Two other documents written by Inchofer that were identified by Martinez in the Casanatense, another Roman Library Services , consolidate our claim that Inchofer is the author of EE 291. The slight differences in the handwriting of the other two Inchofer documents in the EE volume can be explained by special circumstances. For example, in one case, he indicates that he is forced to stop writing because his hand trembles.

Artigas, Martinez and Shea sketched a article in 2000 but had not published it when they learned, in January 2001, that two other researchers acting independently had also found the document. The Italian historian Ugo Baldini, who had been asked by the Vatican authorities order to lead a systematic research to identify documents on science and religion in the archives of the Holy official document up to the 19th century, found, with the financial aid of several collaborators, many documents, including EE 291, which appeared to be the only important document related to Galileo discovered to date. They have found some other documents related to Galileo, but they concern minor aspects. Baldini and his team have published these texts with some explanatory notes *(15). Another researcher, Thomas Cerbu of the University of Georgia, also found EE 291, and has published a article on Inchofer, in which he reproduces EE 291 with some comments *(16). The fact that EE 291 has been found independently three times in a short period of time test that free access to the Vatican archives has already produced excellent results.

We are at agreement with Cerbu about the authorship of EE 291, and can take it as established that EE 291 was written by Inchofer. This, in turn, allows us to establish, also from agreement with Cerbu, when EE 291 was written.

The author of EE 291

Inchofer's personal circumstances provide a reliable clue to establish when EE 291 was written. In 1617 he was sent to Messina to teach mathematics, Philosophy and theology. He was a prolific writer, very interested in historical controversies. In 1629 he published a work supporting the authenticity of a letter allegedly written by the Virgin Mary to the people of Messina, which had been declared apocryphal by the Holy See official document. This caused him some difficulties with the Congregation of the Index, and Inchofer went to Rome to defend himself. He did so well that he was allowed not only to print a revised publication of the book, but also to remain in Rome. He became a confidant of the Dominican Niccolò Riccardi, Master of the Apostolic Palace, one of the top posts in the Vatican Curia. Riccardi was in charge of authorising book publications, and had close ties with the Holy official document and the Congregation of the Index.

Inchofer's partnership with Riccardi could not have begun before the charges against him had been resolved. A positive report in his favour was submitted by Riccardi on 23 April 1630, and was C by the Holy official document. In December 1630 Riccardi notified the Holy official document that corrections to Inchofer's book had been made, and the cardinals approved the publication of the revised edition. Soon after that, Inchofer began to be consulted by the Congregation of the Index, except for the period when he returned to Sicily between 1634 and 1636. In 1640 he was officially appointed consultant, degree scroll , which he retained until his death.

From these circumstances we can deduce that the end of 1630 or the beginning of 1631 is the absolute lower limit for Inchofer's initial partnership with Riccardi and the Congregation of the Index. It is plausible that he was not yet consulted immediately after he was cleared of accusations, until sometime in 1631 or early 1632. On the other hand, EE 291 could not have been written after 1642, the year of Galileo's death, because the criticism of the "Lynx" is directed against a living person. The suggestion to examine the matter in more detail would not make any sense if Galileo had already died. Since there is no reference letter to Galileo's condemnation on 22 June 1633 (the author would have mentioned it if the document had been written after that condemnation), we can conjecture that EE 291 was written before that date. Inchofer's conclusion that the complaint provided a basis for examining the subject in the Holy official document would not make any sense after it was decided, on 23 September 1632, to call Galileo before the Holy official document; unless the document was used between that date and the beginning of the trial on 12 April 1633, when the trial was being "set up", seeing what and how Galileo was accused of.

We can conclude, therefore, that the document was written sometime in 1631 or 1632, but no later than 12 April 1633. This is consistent with the evidence provided by the similarity between the handwriting of EE 291 and that found in documents that we know were written in Inchofer's own hand before 1634 *(17). It is also consistent with the fact that Inchofer was a member of the Preliminary Commission appointed in the summer of 1632 to examine whether Galileo should be called before the Holy official document. But, before developing this argument, we must raise some questions concerning G3.

 The date of EE 291

To check why Inchofer wrote EE 291, we first ask ourselves about the date of G3. Redondi conjectured that it was written after the publication of The Assayer in 1623, and before Father Grassi replied with his Ratio Ponderum of 1626. It was at that time that Galileo heard the unpleasant rumour that his theory of "motion" had been denounced. We cannot exclude that G3 was written some years after the publication of The Assayer. There have been cases of delayed attacks in more recent times. For example, at the end of the 19th century, a book on evolution written by Father Leroy was denounced to the Index several years after it was published. There were no rules for the arrival of denunciations to the congregation of the Index or that of the Holy official document. However, it seems more reasonable to suppose that G3 was written in 1624, shortly after the publication of The Assayer. agreement This date is in line with what we know about the circumstances, especially the unease expressed by Galileo when he returned to Florence in June 1624, and with the denunciation mentioned by Mario Guiducci in his letter to Galileo of 18 April 1625 *(18). The only detail that does not fit so well is Guiducci's reference letter to the motion of the Earth as the cause of the denunciation, but as we have seen, this was surely a mistake, because there is no accredited specialization of the motion of the Earth in The Assayer. That the person who informed Cesi had difficulty in realising that the real issue was the motion of atoms is quite understandable, and Cesi himself, or even Guiducci, could have been deceived about this. The second time Guiducci refers to the denunciation in his letter he speaks only of the "motion", not of "the motion of the earth". Once this subject is clarified, the denunciation reported by Cesi and transmitted by Guiducci fits perfectly with Galileo's concern: a theory concerning sensible qualities is a topic that he had dealt with in The Assayer.

Our conclusion is that G3 was written and sent to the Congregation of the Index or to the Congregation of the Holy official document in 1624. As Guiducci says in his letter, the cardinal who declared that he would examine the subject asked Father Guevara to read the book and report back. Shortly afterwards Father Guevara went to France with the cardinal bequest, who was precisely Cardinal Francesco Barberini. Everything coincides if we assume that the cardinal who took action in the matter was Francesco Barberini, nephew of the Pope and friend of Galileo. He had a genuine interest in the matter. When Father Guevara reported that Galileo's views on the qualities were not opposed to Church doctrine, G3 was shelved and lay dormant until it was discovered by Inchofer.

But who wrote G3? It is difficult to identify the author because the copy of G3 on file is, quite plausibly, the work of a copyist. Redondi initially conjectured that the author was none other than Father Orazio Grassi, but Sergio Pagano has shown this to be quite implausible *(19). Several people in Rome had an aversion to Galileo, for personal or doctrinal reasons, but none of those we have studied appear to be the author of G3. One possibility is Francesco Ingoli (1578-1649) with whom Galileo had a polemic in Rome in 1616. Ingoli was largely manager of the revisions to Copernicus' De Revolutionibus as requested by the Index, and had a hand in the banning of Kepler's Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanoae. Several of his handwritten notes are in the archives of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples (formerly Propaganda Fide), of which he was the first secretary, and Rafael Martínez has been able to determine that he did not write G3. Martinez also examined the work of several copyists who worked at Propaganda Fide at that time, but their handwriting does not correspond to that of G3.

Sergio Pagano has drawn attention to another clue: the watermark of G3. It is an ecclesiastical coat of arms, probably of Cardinal Tiberio Muti, bishop of Viterbo between 1611 and 1636 *(20). Martínez found several variants of this watermark in documents from the diocesan file of Viterbo. The Muti were a noble Roman family and Galileo knew Cardinal Tiberio Muti, his brother Giacomo, and his nephew Carlo. When Galileo went to Rome in 1611, he brought a letter of reference from Antonio de' Medici for Tiberio Muti *(21). He met Tiberius again in 1616 *(22), but he was closer to Carlo Muti, who was a member of the Lincei Academy, and with whom he corresponded until Carlo's death in 1621 *(23). Cardinal Tiberio Muti was a member of the Congregation of the Index, and attended its meetings until at least 1633 *(24).

It is highly implausible that Cardinal Muti was involved in the G3 draft, not only because his handwriting is different, but because of the tone of the document. It is not what we would expect from a cardinal who belonged to the Congregation of the Index. Several people in the cardinal's entourage may have had access to the paper with its watermark, but so far there are no clues in this direction *(25).

 The date and authorship of G3

The evidence we have examined strongly suggests that G3 was written in 1624. It was archived, and then discovered in 1632, in the context of the first phase of the Galileo trial. The author of G3 mentions that he had experienced "doctrinal scruples" after reading The Assayer, which would have been of interest to those who wished to indict Galileo after he published his Dialogue on the Two Great Systems of the World. Galileo's trial was preceded by several months of research. In August 1632 Rome tried to stop the dissemination of the Dialogue, and at that time the Pope appointed a Research Committee which probably included Inchofer among its members.

We know that the Commission met in August and September 1632, but we do not know what orders it received, how it put them on internship, or what reports it produced. One thing is clear: the Commission recommended that Galileo be called before the Holy See official document. We also have another important piece of information: a very damaging prescription made to Galileo in 1616 was discovered in the archives of the Holy official document. On 11 September 1632 the Tuscan ambassador in Rome, Francesco Niccolini, wrote to Andrea Cioli, Secretary of State of Tuscany, that Father Riccardi, the Master of the Apostolic Palace, mentioned that a Jesuit confidant of his (probably Inchofer) was one of the members of the Commission. Riccardi added that the famous prescription of 1616 had been found in the Holy official document. On 26 February 1616 Cardinal Bellarmine, putting the Pope's orders on internship , admonished Galileo to abandon Copernicanism. This had been recorded in the archives, and now came to light.

Once he was informed of the contents of the Dialogue in 1632, Pope Urban VIII took the matter directly into his own hands. The archives were searched for anything concerning Galileo's background, in all likelihood on the Pope's instructions, since Urban VIII remembered that the Holy official document had dealt with Galileo in 1616. As a cardinal member of the Index, but not of the Holy official document, Urban VIII (at that time Cardinal Maffeo Barberini) had no direct access in 1616 to the proceedings of the Holy official document, which were secret. This is the reason why, in a conversation with Galileo's friend Piero Dini in April 1615, he had declared that nothing was being done in Rome at that time against Galileo, although the truth is that the Dominican Father Lorini had already denounced him to the Roman authorities, and another Dominican, Tommaso Caccini, had already testified against Galileo in the Holy official document *(26). More specifically, Urban VIII knew nothing about the admonition that, by order of Pope Paul V, was transmitted to Galileo by Cardinal Bellarmine on 26 February 1616. It now transpired (in 1632) that two documents (not just one) in the Holy official document recorded that event. The authenticity of the first document, which contains a very explicit description of the prescription, has been questioned, but the second document is not controversial and is to be found in the conference proceedings of the Holy official document, where each meeting was recorded with the topic and the decisions taken. This document clearly states that Bellarmine, acting under orders from the Holy official document, formally admonished Galileo to abandon the Copernican view, which Galileo accepted *(27).

When the documents of the Holy official document came to light, Urban VIII discovered, to his surprise, that his friend Galileo, whom he greatly admired, had said nothing to him about this admonition. Yet that is what should be expected under normal circumstances. In 1616 the Holy official document wanted to protect Galileo's reputation, and there was no reason why Galileo should have made the admonition known to others. Galileo had even obtained a certificate from Cardinal Bellarmine, who was a man who respected confidentiality. The secrecy of the Holy official document was so strict that Bellarmine could not refer in his own writing to the proceedings of the Holy official document, nor explain in detail the orders received from the Pope. Nevertheless, when Galileo took the manuscript of his Dialogue to Rome in 1630 to be allowed to be published, he should have mentioned that he had received this admonition. The finding of the admonition turned against him, and became the focus of the trial. Galileo's only defence was to claim that, in the Dialogue, he was not arguing in favour of Copernicanism. But the three experts who read the work soon realised that he was arguing for the motion of the Earth as persuasively as he could, and they told the Pope so.

G3 was probably discovered while searching the archives for information on Galileo. The accusation contained in G3 did not refer to Copernicanism, and a report on its relevance was needed. Inchofer was the right person to prepare such a report; he knew something about science and had been a member of the Preliminary Commission. He thought that the accusation contained in G3 was justified and that the subject deserved further investigation by the Holy official document.

The violation of the 1616 admonition regarding Copernicanism was sufficient to call Galileo before the Holy official document. It related directly to the Dialogue, and provided sufficient legal basis for a prosecution. EE 291 and G3 were not necessary. We can imagine that both documents were carefully kept, without losing sight of how the matter was developing. They were not forgotten. After all, the process might not be so easy.

Galileo did not arrive in Rome until 13 February 1633. To his surprise, he had to wait a long time before he was summoned before the Holy See official document. On 26 February Ambassador Niccolini asked the Pope for a speedy trial, but Urban VIII told him that he did not know how long it could take, because the case was still under investigation *(28). Since the Pope was the head of the Holy See official document, it is clear that the matter was taken very seriously. Only on 12 April, two months after his arrival in Rome, Galileo appeared before the Holy official document to make his statement. We can assume that all relevant documents were examined at that time, including G3 and EE 291. We know the result. The trial centred on the Dialogue, and there was no doubt that Galileo had disobeyed the admonition of 1616. From a legal point of view it seemed that the charge could stand. The philosophical views about sensible qualities seemed of little relevance, and G3 and EE 291 were shelved, and have gone unnoticed until recently.

There is a possibility that G3 was not deposited in the Vatican archives, but was kept by Cardinal Francesco Barberini, who recalled it in 1632 and had it re-examined by Inchofer. Cerbu suggests that EE 291 was "a memorandum strictly staff, sketched in connection with the meetings of the Special Commission.... The two documents [G3 and EE 291] may have remained in his [Inchofer's] possession for several years after he drafted his opinion, and may have been deposited in the Index in connection with his [Inchofer's] further duties as consultant there" *(29). However, it seems difficult to admit that a member of the Preliminary Commission, such as Inchofer, could keep G3 for himself, unless Cardinal Barberini Cardinal gave it to him. But in this case it would still be difficult to understand why Inchofer would have deposited G3 and EE 291 in the archives some years later.

 G3, EE 291 and the Galileo case

Historians lament the existence of two gaps in the records of Galileo's trial. The first concerns the discussions that took place before he was summoned to Rome (August-September 1632), the second the preparation of the trial after Galileo had arrived in Rome (February-March 1633). We know very little about the first, and almost nothing about the second, but EE 291 provides clues that may help us to reconstruct these events.

The official documents do not tell us who accused Galileo and whether anyone approached the pope about it. Nor do we know whether only the Dialogue was examined or whether Galileo's other writings were taken into consideration. We do know, however, that status was very tense in Rome in 1632, because the Papacy was deeply involved in the aftermath of the Thirty Years' War. In a consistory, the pro-Hispanic Cardinal Borgia accused the Pope of favouring the Protestants on the grounds that his support for France favoured the interests of Sweden, an ally of France. The Pope did not wish to appear weak on doctrinal matters and felt obliged to act firmly. Galileo's Dialogue could easily be presented as a source of doctrinal errors, and Galileo's opponents even suggested that it might represent an affront to the Papacy. The three dolphins on the cover of the book were said to be an implicit criticism of the nepotism of the Pope who had placed three members of his family in important positions. A more serious accusation was the fact that the Pope's argument about the impossibility of proving scientific theories had been put at the end of the book in the mouth of Simplicius, the Aristotelian pedant who behaved in a perfectly ridiculous manner. Seen in this light, G3 could be used to accuse Galileo of deviating from Catholic doctrine in fields other than the motion of the earth. Although G3 and EE 291 were not mentioned in the trial, they could have played an important role during the period when evidence was being accumulated against Galileo.

Thomas Cerbu refers to the persecution of the Jesuits. Galileo considered them the cause of his misfortune. But, according to Cerbu, "Inchofer's troubles with his fellow Jesuits, beginning with his two writings against heliocentrism, the Tractatus and the Vindiciae, and continuing to the end of his life, make it difficult to count him among the Jesuits who allegedly persecuted Galileo in 1632" *(30). However, in 1632, Inchofer's problems with members of his order were not so great, and in his 1633 report on the Dialogue Inchofer goes so far as to write that "Galileo's main purpose was to combat Father Christopher Scheiner, a Jesuit who had very recently written against the Copernicans" *(31). This sample that in 1633 Inchofer was on Scheiner's side.

 The meaning of EE 291

Other scenarios are possible. Although we think that Inchofer wrote EE 291 between 1631 and September 1632, and that there is a high probability that G3 was written around 1624, we cannot exclude that it was written in 1632, shortly before EE 291. But this would not affect our conclusion, which is that G3 and EE 291 were used during the work of the Preparatory Commission in the summer of 1632, or when the trial was being prepared in 1633, or on both occasions. Perhaps one day we will know who wrote G3 and when it was submitted to the Index or to the Holy official document. It is possible that other documents will become known that will shed new light on the circumstances leading up to Galileo's trial. We do not believe, however, that the well-known facts about the Galileo case can change. What was at stake was that Galileo had not complied with a formal prescription not to teach that the earth moves. The underlying theological issues were the authority of Scripture in scientific matters, and the implications of geocentrism for Christian doctrine. Many Catholics, including those in leading positions in the Church, were aware of these problems and thought that they could be addressed. The more we learn about the circumstances of the trial, the more we become convinced that Galileo's condemnation was not inevitable.


file of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Index,Protocolli, vol. EE, f. 291r (new 301r-v) *(32)

[f. 291r] Vidi discursum Lyncei et agnovi philosophiam esse eius hominis qui nunquam non verae philosophiae imposuit, sive errore, sive ignorantia, semper temerarie.

Errat in primis negando qualitates primas et secundas etiam in iis corporibus quae agunt in materiam externam, velut cum negat calorem inesse igni qui in nos agit calefaciendo.

2. Errat dicendo non posse conceptu separari a substantiis corporeis accidentia modificantia, velut quantitatem et quae ad quantitatem consequuntur. Quae opinio est absolute contra fidem, exemplo Eucharistiae, ubi quantitas non solum realiter distinguitur a sua substantia, sed etiam separata existit.

3. Errat cum dicit saporem, odorem, colorem, esse pura nomina, et quasi denominationes extrinsecas a corporibus sentientibus, quibus sublatis ipsa quoque huiusmodi accidentia tolli et annihilari, praesertim si sint distincta a primis veris et realibus accidentibus. Ex quo errore duo alii consequuntur: 1. Corpora eandem quantitatem et figuram habentia habere eosdem sapores, odores etc. 2. Corpora amittentia odorem et saporem, amittere etiam quantitatem et figuram a quibus sapor, odor etc. non distinguuntur in phantasia Lyncei.

4. Errat quod sensationes in corpore animalis vocet actiones, cum patitur ab obiecto extrinseco, velut cum titillatur a penna aut alio corpore. Sed hoc condonandum ruditati Philosophi.

5. Errat cum eandem velit esse rationem odoris et saporis, ac titillationis causatae ab agentibus extrinsecis; haec enim sentitur in passo iuxta dispositionem corporis organici, ad cuiusmodi sensationem per accidens se habet hoc vel illud agens in individuo: at sapores et odores etc. oriuntur ex qualitatibus obiectorum, ratione mixtionis hoc vel illo modo temperatae; ad quod viceversa per accidens se habet hoc vel illud organum sensationis in individuo, unde iuxta varias dispositiones, unus altero plus vel minus sentit.

6. Errat cum dicit, ferrum v.g. candens tantum calefaceret animalia sensu praedita; nam quodvis corpus appositum igni, dummodo sit mixtum et non quintae alicuius essentiae recipit calorem. *(33) Idem dico si iuxta ponatur quodvis aliud corpus cuivis agenti per species sensibiles, a quo recipit easdem qualitates.

[Recte deducitur ex opinione huius authoris, non manere accidentia in Eucharistia sine substantia panis. Patet, agunt enim in organum sensationis resolutione minimarum partium, quae cum sint heterogeneae a quantitate, alioqui[n] non afficerent nisi sensum tactus, erunt substantiae, non nisi ex substantia panis, quae enim alia potest assignari, proinde habetur intentum. Idemque sequitur non minus evidenter in ea sententia quae ponit partes substantiae entitativas, distinctas a quantitate dimensiva, nec distinctas realiter a substantia.

8. Recte etiam deducitur non manere alia accidentia in Eucharistia nisi quantitatem, figuram etc. nam sapor odor, sunt pura vocabula si non habeatur relatio ad sensum, in opinione scilicet erronea Lyncei; proinde absolute non sunt distincta accidentia a quantitate figura etc.

Si author per partes minimas intelligat species sensibiles, habebit patronos quosdam ex philosophia Aboriginum, sed plura cogetur asserere absurda nec salva in fide. Interim sufficiant ista ex quibus ulterior inquisitio fieri potest coram S. Officio.

appendix I: the original Latin document EE 291

 appendix II: English version of EE 291

file of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Index,Protocolli, vol. EE, f. 291r (new 301r-v)

[f.291r] I have seen the speech of the Linceo and I have recognised in it the Philosophy of a man who has always misrepresented the true Philosophy, either by error or ignorance, but always recklessly.

He errs in the first place by denying the first and second qualities even in those bodies which act on the external subject , as when he denies that heat enters into fire, which acts on us by heating.

2. He errs in saying that it is not possible to separate conceptually from corporeal substances the accidents which modify them, such as quantity and what follows from quantity. Such an opinion is absolutely contrary to faith; see the example of the Eucharist, where the quantity is not only really distinguished from its substance, but even exists separately.

3. He errs when he says that taste, smell, or colour are purely names, and as extrinsic denominations derived from the bodies that feel, and if these were eliminated, the very accidents of that kind would also be removed and annihilated, especially if they are different from the first, true and real accidents. Two others follow from this error: 1. Bodies which have the same quantity and shape will have the same tastes, smells, etc. 2. Bodies which lose smell and taste will also lose quantity and figure, from which taste, smell, etc., are indistinguishable in the imagination of the Lincean.

4. He errs in calling actions the sensations in the animal's body when it suffers from an extrinsic object, as when it is tickled by a feather or by another body. But this must be condoned to the imperfection of the philosopher.

5. He errs when he pretends that the reason of taste and smell is the same as that of tingling caused by extrinsic agents. The latter is felt by the patient according to the disposition of the organic body, and to such a sensation is accidentally related this or that body acting on the individual. But tastes and smells, etc., come from the qualities of objects by reason of the mixture [of elements] proportioned in one way or another, to which [to this subject of sensation], vice versa, is accidentally related this or that organ of sensation in the individual, whence, according to the various dispositions, one feels more or less than another.

6. He is wrong when he says that incandescent iron, for example, would heat only animals endowed with sensibility. Any body placed next to fire receives heat, as long as it is mixed and not of some quintessence. I say the same thing if you put any other body next to any other body which acts by means of sentient species, from which it receives the same qualities.

[It follows directly from the opinion of this author that the accidents do not remain in the Eucharist without the substance of the bread. It is evident, for they act on the organ of sensation by resolution on the least parts, which being distinct from the quantity - otherwise they would influence only the sense of touch - will be substances; and from none other but the substance of the bread - to what other could they be assigned - thus obtaining what was intended. And the same follows no less evidently from that sentence which asserts that the parts of the substance are entitative, distinct from the dimensional quantity and not really distinct from the substance.

8. It also follows directly that no other accidents remain in the Eucharist but quantity, figure, etc., for taste or smell are pure terms if they do not relate to the senses, according to the erroneous opinion of the Lincean. Therefore the accidents are not absolutely distinct from quantity, figure, etc.

If the author understands by the least parts of the sensible species, he will find some supporters in the Philosophy of the ancients, but he will be obliged to assert many absurdities and things contrary to faith. For the time being, these will suffice, of which a further inquisition can be made in the century official document.



  1. We have published four programs of study on the scientific, philosophical and theological aspects of the document in certificate Philosophica, journal of the School of Philosophy of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome: M. Artigas, "Un nuovo documento sul caso Galileo: EE 291", certificate Philosophica, 10 (2001), pp. 199-214; Rafael Martínez, "Il Manoscrito ACDF, Index, Protocolli, vol. EE, f. 291r-v", ibid, pp. 215-242; Lucas F. Mateo-Seco, "Galileo e l'Eucaristia. La questione teologica dell'ACDF, Index, Protocolli, EE, f. 291 r-v", ibid., pp. 243-256; William R. Shea, "Galileo e l'atomismo", ibid., pp. 257-272.
  2. Galileo Galilei, Il Saggiatore, in A. Favaro (ed.), Le Opere di Galileo Galilei (Firenze: G. Barbèra, 1890-1909), vol. VI, pp. 197-372. Hereafter cited as Opere, followed by the Latin issue of the volume and the Arabic issue of the pages.
  3. Pietro Redondi, Galileo Eretico (Turin: Einaudi, 1983).
  4. Maffeo Barberini to Galileo, 24 June 1623: Opere, XIII, 119.
  5. De tribus cometis anni MDCXVIII Disputatio Astronomica publice habita in Collegio Romano Societatis Iesu ab uno ex Patribus eiusdem Societatis (Rome: Iacobi Mascardi, 1619): Opere, VI, 19-35.
  6. Discorso delle comete di Mario Guiducci, fatto da lui nell'Accademia Fiorentina nel suo medesimo consolato (Firenze: Stamperia di Pietro Cecconcelli, 1619): Opere, VI, 39-105.
  7. Libra Astronomica ac Philosophica qua Galilæi Galilæi Opiniones de Cometis a Mario Guiducio in Florentina Academia expositæ, atque in lucem nuper editae, examinantur a Lothario Sarsio Sigensano (Perugia: Typographia Marci Naccarini, 1619): Opere, VI, 111-180.
  8. Opere, VI, 232.
  9. Mario Guiducci to Galileo, 21 June 1624: Opere, XIII, 186.
  10. Opere, VI, 347-348.
  11. There is a pencil pagination, apparently more recent, where folios 291, 292 and 293 are indicated as 301, 302 and 303. We prefer the older pagination that Redondi used in his book. The new document EE 291 occupies folio 291 recto-verso (301 in the pencil pagination), and G3 occupies 292 recto-verso and 291 recto (302 and 303 in the pencil pagination).
  12. Cf. L. Szilas, "Inchofer", in: Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie Ecclésiastiques, vol. XXV (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1995), col. 979-980; Catalogi personarum et officiorum provinciae Austriae S.I., edited by L. Lukács, vol. II: Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, 125 (Rome: Institutum Historicum S.I., 1982); D. Dümmerth, "Les combats et la tragédie du Père Melchior Inchofer S. J. à Rome (1641-1648)", Annales Universitatis Scientiarum Budapestinensis, Sectio Historica, 17 (1976), 81-112.
  13. Francesco Niccolini to Andrea Cioli, 11 September 1632: Opere, XIV, 389.
  14. W. Shea, "Melchior Inchofer's Tractatus Syllepticus: A consultant of the Holy Office Answers Galileo", in: P. Galluzzi (ed.),Novità celesti e crisi del sapere (Florence: Barbèra, 1983), 283-292; F. Beretta, ""Omnibus Christianae, Catholicaeque Philosophiae amantibus". Le Tractatus syllepticus de Melchior Inchofer, censeur de Galilée", Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie,48 (2001), 301-325.
  15. U. Baldini and L. Spruit, "Nuovi documenti galileiani degli Archivi del Sant'Ufficio e dell'Indice", Rivista di storia della filosofia, 56 (2001), 661-699.
  16. T. Cerbu, "Melchior Inchofer, "un homme fin & rusé"", in: José Montesinos and Carlos Solís (eds.), Largo campo di filosofare. Eurosymposium Galileo 2001 (La Orotava, Tenerife: Fundación Canaria Orotava de Historia de la Ciencia, 2001), 587-611.
  17. It is very similar especially to EE f. 125r-v, which seems to date from 1630, and to FF f. 521r-v, from the first half of 1634.
  18. Mario Guiducci a Galileo, Opere, XIII, 265.
  19. See: S. Pagano (ed.), I documenti del processo di Galileo Galilei (Città del Vaticano: Pontificia Academia Scientiarum, 1984), 43-48.
  20. P. Gauchat, Hierarchia catholica medii et recentioria aevi (Münster, 1935), 12. There is another possibility, namely that the coat of arms was that of one of the Gondi cardinals, who in the 16th and 17th centuries occupied the see of Paris: Pietro (1533-1616), ambassador in Rome from 1595, his nephew Enrico (1572-1622), and Giovanni Francesco (1572-1622), who succeeded his brother.
  21. Tiberio Muti to Antonio De' Medici, 9 April 1611: Opere, XI, 87. There is an error in Favaro's edition, where the letter is signed "Il Car. Muti". In 1611, Tiberio Muti was not yet a cardinal, but was a member of the chapter of St. Peter's. Instead of Car. (Cardinal) should read Can. (Canon).
  22. See: Opere, XII, 240-241 and 411-412.
  23. See: Opere, XX, 491. Carlo Muti was born in 1591.
  24. The last meeting he attended took place on 19 September 1633 (see file of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Index, Diari, vol. IV, p. 68).
  25. We sometimes find variants of watermarks in writings apparently unrelated to the original. For example, there are different versions of the watermark with Muti's coat of arms in Th. Ameyden's manuscript Elogia Summorum Pontificum et S.R.E. Cardinalium suo aevo defunctorum (Bibl. Casanatense, ms. 1336). This is explained by the friendship between Muti and Ameyden, who had access to his writing paper.
  26. Piero Dini to Galileo, 18 April 1615: Opere, XII, 173.
  27. S. Pagano (ed.), I documenti del processo di Galileo Galilei, op. cit., 223 (document no. 7). There is another document on the same subject, which was found by Pagano in the Stanza Storica in the Archives (document no. 6, pp. 222-223), but we do not know whether it is the original or a later copy.
  28. Francesco Niccolini to Andrea Cioli, 26 February 1633: Opere, XV, 56.
  29. Cerbu, "Melchior Inchofer, "un homme fin & rusé"", op. cit., 598.
  30. Ibid
  31. S. Pagano (ed.), I documenti del processo di Galileo Galilei, op. cit., 143.
  32. or the original score , which is not always constant. Other details have also been standardised, for example by substituting "ij" for "ii", or by writing whole words instead of abbreviations.
  33. After calorem, and before cuivis agenti, the author had written iuxta positum igni, aut, which is now crossed out. Between the lines, the same hand added the corrected text: Idem dico si iuxta ponatur aliud corpus.