On this day in 1633, the Catholic Church began the inquisition of astronomer Galileo Galilei. Galileo was on trial for holding the belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun, which was deemed heretical by the Church.
Galileo refused to accept Church orthodoxy that the Sun moved around the Earth and was an absolute fact of scripture that could not be disputed, arguing instead that the Earth was not the centre of the universe.
On June 22, 1633, the Church handed down the following order: 'We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures that the sun is the centre of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the centre of the world'.
Along with the order came the following penalty: “We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms.”
Galileo Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment but because of his age and poor health, he was allowed to serve his imprisonment under house arrest where he spent the rest of his life.
In 1992, after a 13 year investigation, the Roman Catholic Church admitted it had been wrong to condemn Galileo Galilei for promoting the Copernican astronomical theory.
It took 359 years for the Church to catch up with science which makes you wonder just where we would be if the Church was not replaced by science as the source of our knowledge.