Galileo - Daughter Becomes Sister Maria Celeste

Continuing with his theories on motion, Galileo used a horse to demonstrate that the Earth moves.  He examined these (among other) questions:

  • What if a rider dropped a ball with the horse going at a full gallop? If the ball dropped, would it fall by the horse?
  • If the Earth were moving, could we be carried with it—and not even realize we’re moving?

Maybe we don’t know we’re moving, reasoned Galileo, because that fundamental fact is hidden from us.  Perhaps it’s something which is true, but we don’t really feel it.

We learn, from the Galileo Project at Rice University, that Galileo worked on his motion theories for a very long time:

Over the next two decades he changed his ideas and refined his experiments, and in the end he arrived at the law of falling bodies which states that in a vacuum all bodies, regardless of their weight, shape, or specific gravity, are uniformly accelerated in exactly the same way, and that the distance fallen is proportional to the square of the elapsed time.

As Galileo continued his efforts to prove that the Earth moves, he changed his living location so he could be closer to his daughters’ convent.  By this time, Virginia had changed her name to Sister Maria Celeste.  Although she lived in a cloister, she still closely followed her father’s work efforts.

Finding the weather cold, in his new location, Galileo found no medical remedies which were helpful to him.  Maria Celeste’s letters indicate that she knew all about the situation as she reminded Galileo to take care of himself.

The convent, where Maria Celeste lived, was particularly poor and life there was harsh.  The nuns had little to eat, and the place was cold in winter.  One of the nuns tried to kill herself, as a result of the extreme living conditions.

Galileo then turned his attention, and his telescope, to examining the Sun.  Believing he saw spots on the surface—or close to it—he called them “sunspots.” 

A Jesuit who also studied the Sun declared, however, that the spots were satellites around the Sun. 

Even on that point, the Church was opposed to Galileo’s findings, despite his careful observations and documentation.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Sep 16, 2019

Media Credits

Clip from "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens," a NOVA Production by Green Umbrella, LTD for WGBH/Boston (in association with Channel 4).  Copyright 2002 - WGBH Educational Foundation, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the 2002 program. Online, courtesy NOVA and YouTube.

Transcript of entire program online, courtesy NOVA.

Written and Produced by:
David Axelrod

Directed by:
Peter Jones

Narrated by:

Liev Schreiber

Simon Callow - Galileo
Laura Nardi - Maria Celeste
John Fraser - the Inquisitor
Alexa Jago - Voice of Maria Celeste
Cornelius Garrett - Voices of the Ambassador and Castelli


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Galileo - Daughter Becomes Sister Maria Celeste" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Sep 16, 2019.
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