Galileo's First Deposition (12 April 1633)
Summoned, there appeared personally in Rome at the
palace of the Holy
Office, in the usual quarters of the Reverend Father Commissary, fully
in the presence of the Reverend Father Fra Vincenzo Maculano of
Commissary General, and of his assistant Reverend Father Carlo Sinceri,
Prosecutor of the Holy Office, etc.
Galileo, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei, Florentine,
old, who, having taken a formal oath to tell the truth, was asked by
Fathers the following:
Q: By what means and how long ago did he come to
A: I arrived in Rome the first Sunday of Lent, and I
Q: Whether he came of his own accord, or was
called, or was
ordered by someone to come to Rome, and by whom.
A: In Florence the Father Inquisitor ordered me to
come to Rome
and present myself to the Holy Office, this being an injunction by the
officials of the Holy Office.
Q. Whether he knows or can guess the reason why he
A. I imagine that the reason why I have been ordered
myself to the Holy Office in Rome is to account for my recently printed
book. I imagine this because of the injunction to the printer and
myself, a few days before I was ordered to come to Rome; not to issue
of these book; and similarly because the printer was by the Father
to send the original manuscript of my book to the Holy Office in Rome.
Q: That he explain the character of the book on
account of which
he thinks he was ordered to come to Rome.
A: It is a book written in dialogue form, and it
treats of the
constitution of the world, that is, of the two chief systems, and the
of the heavens and the elements.
Q: Whether, if he were shown the said book, he is
identify it as his.
A: I hope so; I hope that if the book is shown me I
it. And having been shown one of the books printed in Florence in
1632, whose title is Dialogue of Galileo Galilei Lincean etc., which
the two systems of the world, and having looked at it and inspected it
carefully, he said: I know this book very well; it is one of those
in Florence; and I acknowledge it as mine and written by me.
Q: Whether he likewise acknowledges each and every
in the said book as his.
A: I know this book shown to me, for it is one of
in Florence; and I acknowledge all it contains as having been written
Q: When and where he composed the said book, and how
A: In regard to the place, I composed it in
ten or twelve years ago; and it must have taken me seven or eight
but not continuously.
Q: Whether he was in Rome other times, especially
in the year
1616,and for what occasion.
A: I was in Rome in the year 1616; then I was here
in the second
year of His Holiness Urban VIII's pontificate; and lastly I was here
years ago, the occasion being that I wanted to have my book
The occasion for my being in Rome in the year 1616 was that, having
objections to Nicolaus Copernicus's opinion on the earth's motion, the
sun's stability, and the arrangement of the heavenly spheres, in order
to be sure of holding only holy and Catholic opinions, I came to hear
was proper to hold in regard to this topic.
Q: Whether he came of his own accord or was
summoned, what the
reason was why he was summoned, and with which person or persons he
the above-mentioned topics.
A: In 1616 I came to Rome of my own accord, without
for the reason I mentioned. In Rome I discussed this matter with some
who oversaw the Holy Office at that time, especially with Cardinals
Aracoeli, San Eusebio, Bonsi, and d' Ascoli.
Q: What specifically he discussed with the
A: The occasion for discussing with the said
cardinals was that
they wanted to be informed about Copernicus's doctrine, his book being
very difficult to understand for those who are not professional
and astronomers. In particular they wanted to understand the
of the heavenly spheres according to Copernicus's hypothesis, how he
the sun at the center of the planets' orbits, how around the sun he
next the orbit of Mercury, around the latter that of Venus, then the
around the earth, and around this Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and in
to motion, he makes the sun stationary at the center and the earth turn
on itself and around the sun, that is, on itself with the diurnal
and around the sun with the annual motion.
Q: Since, as he says, he came to Rome to be able to
resolution and the truth regarding the above, what then was decided
A: Regarding the controversy which centered on the
opinion of the sun's stability and earth's motion, it was decided by
Holy Congregation of the Index that this opinion, taken absolutely, is
repugnant to Holy Scripture and is to be admitted only suppositionally,
in the way that Copernicus takes it.
Q: Whether he was then notified of the said
decision, and by
A: I was indeed notified of the said decision of the
of the Index, and I was notified by Lord Cardinal Bellarmine.
Q: What the Most Eminent Bellarmine told him about
decision, whether he said anything else about the matter, and if so
A: Lord Cardinal Bellarmine told me that
could be held suppositionally, as Copernicus himself had held it. His
knew that I held it suppositionally, namely in the way that Copernicus
held it, as you can see from an answer by the same Lord Cardinal to a
of Father Master Paolo Antonio Foscarini, Provincial of the Carmelites;
I have a copy of this, and in it one finds these words: "I say that it
seems to me that Your Paternity and Mr. Galileo are proceeding
by limiting yourselves to speaking suppositionally and not
This letter by the said Lord Cardinal is dated 12 April 1615. Moreover,
he told me that otherwise, namely taken absolutely, the opinion could
neither held nor defended.
Q: What was decided and then made known to him
the month of February 1616.
A: In the month of February 1616, Lord Cardinal
me that since Copernicus's opinion, taken absolutely, was contrary to
Scripture, it could be neither held nor defended, but it could be taken
and used suppositionally. In conformity with this I keep a certificate
by Lord Cardinal Bellarmine himself, dated 26 May 1616, in which he
that Copernicus's opinion cannot be held or defended, being against
Scripture. I present a copy of this certificate, and here it is. And he
showed a sheet of paper with twelve lines of writing on one side only,
beginning "We, Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, have" and ending "on this
day of May 1616," signed "The same mentioned above, Robert Cardinal
This evidence was accepted and marked with the letter B. Then he added:
I have the original of this certificate with me in Rome, and it is
all in the hand of the above-mentioned Lord Cardinal Bellarmine.
Q: Whether, when he was notified of the
there were others present, and who they were.
A: When Lord Cardinal Bellarmine notified me of what
regarding Copernicus's opinion, there were some Dominican Fathers
but I did not know them nor have I seen them since.
Q: Whether at that time, in the presence of those
was given any injunction either by them or by someone else concerning
same matter, and if so what.
A: As I remember it, the affair took place in the
manner. One morning Lord Cardinal Bellarmine sent for me, and he told
a certain detail that I should like to speak to the ear of His Holiness
before telling others; but then at the end he told me that Copernicus's
opinion could not be held (340) or defended, being contrary to Holy
I do not recall whether those Dominican Fathers were there at first or
came afterward; nor do I recall whether they were present when the Lord
Cardinal told me that the said opinion could not be held. Finally, it
be that I was given an injunction not to hold or defend the said
but I do not recall it since this is something of many years ago.
Q: Whether, if one were to read to him what he was
and ordered with injunction, he would remember that.
A: I do not recall that I was told anything else,
nor can I
know whether I shall remember what was then told me, even if it is read
to me. I am saying freely what I recall because I do not claim not to
in any way violated that injunction, that is, not to have held or
at all the said opinion of the earth's motion and sun's stability.
And having been told that the said injunction, given to him then in
the presence of witnesses, states that he cannot in any way whatever
defend, or teach the said opinion, he was asked whether he remembers
and by whom he was so ordered.
I do not recall that this injunction was given me any other way than
orally by Lord Cardinal Bellarmine. I do remember that the injunction
that I could not hold or defend, and maybe even that I could not teach.
I do not recall, further, that there was the phrase in any way
but maybe there was; in fact, I did not think about it or keep it in
having received a few months thereafter Lord Cardinal Bellarmine's
dated 26 May which I have presented and in which is explained the order
given to me not to hold or defend the said opinion. Regarding the other
two phrases in the said injunction now mentioned, namely not to teach
in any way whatever, I did not retain them in my memory, I think
they are not contained in the said certificate, which I relied upon and
kept as a reminder.
Q: Whether, after the issuing of the said
injunction, he obtained
any permission to write the book identified by himself, which he later
sent to the printer.
A: After the above-mentioned injunction I did not
to write the above-mentioned book which I have identified, because I do
not think that by writing this book I was contradicting at all the
given me not to hold, defend, or teach the said opinion, but rather
I was refuting it.
Q: Whether he obtained permission for printing the
by whom, and whether for himself or for someone else.
A: To obtain permission to print the above-mentioned
I was receiving profitable offers from France, Germany, and Venice, I
them and spontaneously came to Rome three years ago to place it into
hands of the chief censor, namely the Master of the Sacred Palace,
him absolute authority to add, delete, and change as he saw fit. After
having it examined very diligently by his associate Father Visconti,
said Master of the Sacred Palace reviewed it again himself and licensed
it; that is, having approved the book, he gave me permission but
to have the book printed in Rome. Since, in view of the
summer, I wanted to go back home to a avoid the danger of getting sick,
having been away all of May and June, we agreed that I was to return
to autumn immediately following. While I was in Florence, the
broke out and commerce was topped; so, seeing that I could not come to
Rome, by correspondence I requested of the same Master of the Sacred
permission for the book to be printed in Florence. He
to me that he would want to review my original manuscript, and that
I should sent it to him. Despite having used every possible care
and having contacted even the highest secretaries of the Grand Duke and
the directors of the postal service, to try to send the said original
I received no assurance that this could be done, and it certainly would
have been damaged, washed out, or burned, such was the strictness at
borders. I related to the same Father Master Giacinto Stefani, a
Dominican, professor of Scared Scripture at the University of Florence,
preacher for the Most Serene Highnesses, and consultant to the Holy
The book was handed over by me to the Father Inquisitor of Florence and
by the Father Inquisitor to the above mentioned Father Giacinto
the latter returned it to the Father Inquisitor, who sent it to Mr.
dell’ Antella, reviewer of books to be printed for the Most Serene
of Florence; the printer, named Landini, received it form this Mr.
and, having negotiated with the Father Inquisitor, printed it,
strictly every order given by the Father Master of the Sacred Palace.
Q: Whether, when he asked the above-mentioned Master
Sacred Palace for permission to print the above-mentioned book, he
to the same Most Reverend Father Master the injunction previously give
to him concerning the directive of the Holy Congregation, mentioned
A: When I asked him for permission to print the
book, I did
not say anything to the Father Master of the Sacred Palace about the
injunction because I did not judge it necessary to tell it to him,
no scruples since with the said book I had neither held not defended
opinion of the earth’s motion and sun’s stability; on the contrary, in
the said book I show the contrary of Copernicus’s opinion and show that
Copernicus’s reasons are invalid and inconclusive.
With this the deposition ended, and he was assigned a
certain room in
the dormitory of the officials, located in the Palace of the Holy
in lieu of prison, with the injunction not to leave it without special
permission, under penalty to be decided by the Holy Congregation; and
was ordered to sign below and was sworn to silence.
I, Galileo Galilei, have testified as above.
Galileo's Second Deposition (April 30, 1633)
Called personally to the hall of the Congregations, in
and with the assistance of those mentioned above and of myself, the
Galileo Galilei, who has since then petitioned to be heard, having
an oath to tell the truth, was asked by the Fathers the following:
Q: That he state whatever he wished to say.
A: For several days I have been thinking
continuously and directly
about the interrogations I underwent on the 16th of this month and in
about the question whether sixteen years ago I had been prohibited, by
order of the Holy Office, from holding, defending, and teaching in any
way whatever the opinion, then condemned, of the earth's motion and
stability. It dawned on me to reread my printed Dialogue, which
the last three years I had not even looked at. I wanted to check very
whether, against my purest intention, through my oversight, there might
have fallen from my pen not only something enabling readers or
to infer a defect of disobedience on my part, but also other details
which one might think of me as a transgressor of the orders of Holy
Being at liberty, through the generous approval of superiors, to send
of my servants for errands, I managed to get a copy of my book, and I
to read it with the greatest concentration and to examine it in the
detailed manner. Not having seen it for so long, I found it almost a
book by another author. Now, I freely confess that it appeared to me in
several places to be written in such a way that a reader, not aware of
my intention, would have had reason to form the opinion that the
for the false side, which I intended to confute, were so stated as to
capable of convincing because of their strength, rather than being easy
to answer. In particular, two arguments, one based on sunspots and the
other on the tides, are presented favorably to the reader as being
and powerful, more than would seem proper for someone who deemed them
be inconclusive and wanted to confute them, as indeed I inwardly and
did and do hold them to be inconclusive and refutable. As an excuse for
myself, within myself, for having fallen into an error so foreign to my
intention, I was not completely satisfied with saying that when one
arguments for the opposite side with the intention of confuting them,
must be explained in the fairest way and not be made out of straw to
disadvantage of the opponent, especially when one is writing in
form. Being dissatisfied with this excuse, as I said, I resorted to
of the natural gratification everyone feels for his own subtleties and
for showing himself to be cleverer than the average man, by finding
and apparent considerations of probability even in favor of false
Nevertheless-even though, to use Cicero's words, "I am more desirous of
glory than is suitable" -if I had to write out the same arguments now,
there is no doubt I would weaken them in such a way that they could not
appear to exhibit a force which they really and essentially lack. My
then was, and I confess it, one of vain ambition, pure ignorance, and
This is as much as I need to say on this occasion, and it occurred to
as I reread my book.
With this, having obtained his signature, and having
sworn him to silence,
the Fathers formally concluded the hearing.
I, Galileo Galilei, have testified as above.
And returning after a little, he said:
And for greater confirmation that I neither did hold nor
do hold as
true the condemned opinion of the earth's motion and sun's stability,
as I desire, I am granted the possibility and the time to prove it more
clearly, I am ready to do so. The occasion for it is readily available
since in the book already published the speakers agree that after a
time they should meet again to discuss various physical problems other
than the subject already dealt with. Hence, with this pretext to add
or two other Days,77 I promise to reconsider the arguments already
in favor of the said false and condemned opinion and to confute them in
the most effective way that the blessed God will enable me. So I beg
Holy Tribunal to cooperate with me in this good resolution, by granting
me the permission to put it into practice.
And again he signed.
I, Galileo Galilei, affirm the above.
Galileo's Third Deposition (May 10, 1633)
Summoned, there appeared personally at the hall of
the palace of the Holy Office in Rome, in the presence of the very
Father Fra Vincenzo Maculano, O.P., Commissary General of the Holy
Galileo Galilei mentioned above; and, called before his
same Father Commissary gave him a deadline of eight days to present his
defense, if he wanted and intended to do it.
Having heard this, he said:
I understand what Your Paternity has told me. In reply I say that I
do want to present something in my defense, namely in order to show the
sincerity and purity of my intention, not at all to excuse my having
in some ways, as I have already said. I present the following statement
[NOTE: THE DEFENSE SHOWN ABOVE],
with a certificate by the late Most Eminent Lord Cardinal Bellarmine,
with his own hand by the Lord Cardinal himself, of which I earlier
a copy by my hand. For the rest I rely in every way on the usual mercy
and clemency of this Tribunal.
After signing his name, he was sent back to the house of
the above mentioned
Ambassador of the Most Serene Grand Duke, under the conditions already
communicated to him.
I, Galileo Galilei, with my own hand.
Galileo's Fourth Deposition (June 21, 1633)
Called personally to the hall of Congregations in the
palace of the
Holy Office in Rome, fully in the presence of the Reverend Father
General of the Holy Office, assisted by the Reverend Father Prosecutor,
Galileo Galilei, Florentine, mentioned previously,
having sworn an oath
to tell the truth, was asked by the Fathers the following:
Q: Whether he had anything to say.
A: I have nothing to say.
Q: Whether he holds or has held, and for how long,
sun is the center of the world and the earth is not the center of the
but moves also with diurnal motion.
A: A long time ago, that is, before the decision of
Congregation of the Index, and before I was issued that injunction, I
undecided and regarded the two opinions, those of Ptolemy and
as disputable, because either the one or the other could be true in
But after the above-mentioned decision, assured by the prudence of the
authorities, all my uncertainty stopped, and I held, as I still hold,
very true and undoubted Ptolemy's opinion, namely the stability of the
earth and the motion of the sun.
Having been told that he is presumed to have held the said opinion
after that time, from the manner and procedure in which the said
is discussed and defended in the book he published after that time,
from the very fact that he wrote and published the said book, therefore
he was asked to freely tell the truth whether he holds or has held that
In regard to my writing of the Dialogue already published, I did not
do so because I held Copernicus's opinion to be true. Instead, deeming
only to be doing a beneficial service, I explained the physical and
reasons that can be advanced for one side and for the other; I tried to
show that none of these, neither those in favor of this opinion or
had the strength of a conclusive proof and that therefore to proceed
certainty one had to resort to the determination of more subtle
as one can see in many places in the Dialogue. So for my part I
that I do not hold and, after the determination of the authorities, I
not held the condemned opinion.
Having been told that from the book itself and the
for the affirmative side, namely that the earth moves and the sun is
he is presumed, as it was stated, that he holds Copernicus's opinion,
at least that he held it at the time, therefore he was told that unless
he decided to proffer the truth, one would have recourse to the
of the law and to appropriate steps against him.
A: I do not hold this opinion of Copernicus, and I
held it after being ordered by injunction to abandon it. For the rest,
here I am in your hands; do as you please.
And he was told to tell the truth; otherwise one would
A: I am here to obey, but I have not held this
the determination was made, as I said.
And since nothing else could be done for the execution
of the decision,
after he signed he was sent to his place.
I, Galileo Galilei, have testified as above.