Galileo gave the middle finger to the Church when he supported heliocentrism and Copernicanism, and it seems more than 300 years later, he’s still flipping the organization off. Well, his skeletal finger. It was snapped off of his body 95 years after he died and is on display at the Museo Galileo in Florence.
Galileo’s finger was removed from his body by Anton Francesco Gori when his remains were moved from the original grave to a tomb. After the removal, the finger made quite a journey, going back and forth between museums before finding its current resting home.
Today the middle finger sits in a small egg-shaped done for everyone to see.
But why remove body parts? After all, the middle finger is just one body part that was removed when his remains were exhumed. Two more fingers, a tooth and vertebrae were also taken. If it had something to do with Catholic tradition, the mystery would still remain as Galileo was hardly a good Catholic. In fact, he was persecuted by the Church for advocating Copernicus’ theories.
I guess we’ll never know why his body parts were taken, but aren’t you glad you can now visit a museum to see a bony little 450-year-old finger flipping you off?