Bruno’s Sentence

Pope Clement VIII

A copy of the sentence leveled against Friar Iordanus of Nola, consigned to the Most Illustrious Governor of the City of Rome:

We, Lodovico Madruzzo, bishop of Santa Sabina, Giulio Antonio Santori, bishop of Palestrina called Santa Severina, Pietro Dezza, titular cardinal of San Lorenzo in Lucino, Domenico PInello, titular cardinal of San Crisogono, Friar Hieronymo Bernerio d’Ascoli, titular cardinal of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Paolo Sfondrato, titular cardinal of Santa Cecilia, Lutio Sasso, titular cardinal of Santi Quirico e Giulitta, Camillo Borghese, titular cardinal of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Pompeo Arrigone, titular cardinal of Santa Balbina, and Roberto Bellarmino, titular cardinal of Santa Maria in Via, summoned by the mercy of God cardinal priests of the Holy Roman Church in all the Christian republic, inquisitors general against heretical depravity, specially deputed by the Holy Apostolic See:

            Because you, Fra Giordano, son of the late Giovanni Bruno of Nola in the Kingdom of Naples, professed priest of the order of Saint Dominic, at the age of circa fifty-two years, were denounce to the Holy Office in Venice eight years ago:

            That you said that it was a great blasphemy to say that bread transubstantiates into flesh, etc. et infra.

            These propositions were presented to you on the eighteenth of January 1599 in the congregation of the lord prelates held in the Holy Office, and you were assigned the limit of six days in which to deliberate and then answer whether you wanted to abjure said propositions or not, and then on the twenty-fifth of said month, when the same congregations had assembled again in the same place, you replied that if the Holy See and the Holiness of Our Lord had declared eight propositions as definitively heretical, or that His Holiness knew them to be such, or that they had been so defined by the Holy Spirit, then you were disposed to revoke them; and then you presented a document addressed to His Holiness and to us, which, as you said, concerned your defense, and subsequently, on the fourth of February 1599, it was ordered that the eight propositions be proposed to you again, as in effect they were proposed to you on the fifteenth of said month, and if you were to recognize them as heretical and desire to abjure them, you would be received in penitence, otherwise, that a term of forty days would be set for you to repent; and you said at the time that you recognized the said eight propositions as heretical and that you were ready to detest and abjure them at a time and place acceptable to the Holy Office, and not only the said eight propositions, but that you were also prepared to perform every obedience with regard to the others that were proposed to you, but afterward, after you had handed over other documents to the Holy Office addressed to the Holiness of Our Lord and to us, from which it is manifestly apparent that you stubbornly persevered in your aforementioned errors.

            And because notice has been given that you were denounced to the Holy Office in Vercelli, and when you were in England you were reputed to be an atheist and that you had written a book about the Triumphant Beast, on the tenth of the month of September 1599 you were given the term of forty days in which to repent, after which proceedings would be taken against you as the holy canons order and command; and because you nonetheless remained obstinate and impenitent in your errors and heresies, the Right Reverend Father Ipolito Maria Beccaria, general, and Father Fra Paolo Isaresio della Mirandola, procurator of your order, so that they admonish and persuade you to recognize your most graze errors and heresies; nonetheless, you have always stubbornly and obstinately persevered in these said erroneous and heretical opinions of yours.

            For which reasons, having seen and considered the trial mounted against you, and the confessions of your errors and heresies with stubborn persistence – although you deny that they are such – and all the other matters to be seen and considered: your case having been presented before our general congregation in the presence of the Holiness of Our Lord on the twenty-second of January last, and voted and resolved, we have arrived at the following sentence:

            Therefore, invoking the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of his most glorious mother ever virgin Mary, in the case and cases aforementioned pending at present before this Holy Office between the Reverence Giulio Monterentii, doctor of law, fiscal procurator of said Holy Office on one side, and you the aforesaid Fra Giordano Bruno, a felon examined, tried, found guilty, impenitent, obstinate, and pertinacious on the other, by this our definitive sentence, on the counsel and opinion of the Reverend Fathers who are masters of sacred theology and doctors of canon and civil law, our consultants, we proclaim in these documents, state, pronounce, sentence, and declare you, the aforementioned Fra Giordano Bruno, to be an impenitent, pertinacious, and obstinate heretic, and for that reason to incur all the ecclesiastical censures and penalties of the sacred canons, laws, and constitutions, in general and in particular, as those are imposed on such confessed, impenitent, pertinacious, and obstinate heretics; and as such we degrade you in words and declare that you should be degraded, just as we order and command that you now be degraded from all the major and minor ecclesiastical orders to which you have been admitted, according to the order of the holy canons; and that you should be expelled, as we now expel you, from our ecclesiastical bar and from our holy and immaculate Church, of whose mercy you have rendered yourself unworthy; and that you should be released to the secular court, as we now release you to the court of Your Honor, Monsignor Governor of Rome here present, to punish you with appropriate punishments, heartily enjoining you to mitigate the rigor of the law about the punishment of your person, that it should be without danger of death or mutilation of limb.

            Furthermore, we condemn, reprove, and prohibit all the books aforementioned and all other books and writings of yours as heretical and erroneous and containing many heresies and errors, ordering that all those that have up to now and in the future shall be consigned to the Holy Office shall be publicly destroyed and burned in the piazza of Saint Peter’s, before the stairs, and as such they shall be posted on the Index of Prohibited Books, as we now order be done.

            And thus we state, pronounce, sentence, declare, degrade, command, and order, expel, and release, and pray that in this and in every other most binding way and form that we can and ought reasonably to do.

            So pronounce we the undersigned Cardinals Inquisitors General:

            Ludovicus Cardinal Madruzzi

            Iulius Antonius Cardinal Santa Severina

            Petrus Cardinal Dezza

            Dominicus Cardinal Pinellus

            Fra Hieronymus Cardinal d’Ascoli

            [Paulus Cardinal Sfondrato]

            Lutius Cardinal Sasso

            Camillus Cardinal Borghese

Pompeius Cardinal Arrigoni

Robertus Cardinal Bellarminus


The aforementioned sentence was rendered and given by the aforementioned Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord Cardinals Inquisitors General sitting at the bench in Rome in the general congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition held in the presence of the aforementioned Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord Cardinals Inquisitors General in the palazzo that is the habitual residence of the aforementioned Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord Cardinal Madruzzi by the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, in the year of out Lord’s birth 1600, on the eighth day of the month of February . . . cited yesterday for today and send by a courier of Our Most Holy Lord the Pope to the aforementioned Brother Jordano, summoned to hear said sentence.

And on the same day, by an order of the Most Illustrious and Reverend Lord Cardinal Inquisitors General, said Fra Jordano having been led out of the jail of the Holy Inquisition and conducted to the palazzo that is the habitual residence of the aforementioned Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord Cardinal Madruzzi, and with himself present and hearing said sentence recorded by myself the Notary, by their order, in a loud and intelligible voice, it was read and published.

Source: Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic by Ingrid D. Rowland (University of Chicago Press, 2008)

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