This is a great read, not only about Galileo & his daughters, but also about the rigid, religious era they lived in.
Galileo Galilei, that illustrious 17th Century scientist, and devout Catholic, confined his eldest daughter from the age of thirteen (1616) to San Matteo convent in Arcetri. His daughter, Virginia was deemed unmarriageable because her father had never married her mother, the beautiful Marina Gamba of Venice.
Virginia (Sister Maria Celeste) lived out her life in poverty and seclusion in the convent (Order of St Clare) , as did her younger sister, Livia. Unlike Virginia, very little is heard from, or about, the “silent and strange” Livia. Virginia lost all her teeth by age 27 because of her lack of a nutritious diet. It is worth reading ‘Galileo’s Daughter’ by Dava Sobel, a gifted author, for more on these remarkable lives. We know so much about Galileo and Virginia because of the correspondence between the two.
Ms Sobel also covers the horror of Galileo’s life and his banishment to house arrest in Ravenna, at the hands of the Holy Inquisition headed by Pope Paul V.
-Anne Frandi-Coory 9 September 2011
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