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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 19:14 GMT
Italy row over Galileo's remains
By Mark Duff
BBC News, Milan

Galileo Galilei
Galileo's views saw him accused of heresy
The Renaissance genius Galileo Galilei is once again at the centre of a row between Church and science more than 360 years after his death.

Italian researchers want to exhume his body for DNA tests to find the cause of the blindness that afflicted him.

They also want to confirm whether the body that shares his grave is that of Galileo's beloved daughter.

Galileo fell foul of the religious authorities of the day when he argued that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

For that he was accused of heresy and condemned to see out his life under house arrest at his villa in the hills outside Florence.

Supportive letters

Researchers in Florence want to exhume the two bodies from the city's Basilica of the Holy Cross but the rector of the basilica is having none of it - describing the plan as disrespectful.

For his part, the man leading the bid to exhume the remains, Prof Paulo Galluzzi, says the tests could prove if the other body is that of Galileo's daughter, Sister Maria Celeste.

Her letters to her father sustained him in later life and formed the basis of a bestselling book a few years ago.

To locate the remains of someone who played an important part in the life of one of history's greatest scientists is a serious, humanitarian task, Prof Galluzzi told the BBC.



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