Stand of the eighteenth century. Marble, glass. 150 mm x 150 mm x 445 mm
This is a typical example of the cult of Galileo, who came to be a symbol
to be venerated rather than an author to be studied and understood.
The finger was detached from Galileo's body by Anton Francesco Gori (Florence, 1691-1757, literate and antiquary) on 12 March 1737
when Galileo's remains were transferred from a small closet next to the chapel of Saints Cosmas and Damian to the main body of the church of Santa Croce
where a mausoleum had been built by Vincenzo Viviani.
Subsequently the finger was acquired by Angelo M. Bandini, the librarian of the Biblioteca Laurenziana and was exhibited for a long period in this library.
Then, in 1841, it was brought to the Tribuna di Galileo, which had just been opened in the Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale on the via Romana.
Along with the instruments of the Medici and Lorraine dynasties, it eventually became the property of the Museo di Storia della Scienza.
At the base of the marble stand we can read an inscription by Tommaso Perelli, the astronomer of the University of Pisa.
The documents relative to the identification of the finger are kept in the library of the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza.
The casket contains the finger and is made up of a cylindrical alabaster
base, above a glass bowls with gold decorations and a lid.
On the base the following verses by Tommaso Perelli are inscribed.
Leipsana ne spernas digiti, quo dextera coeli
Mensa vias, nunquam visos mortalibus orbes
Mostravit, parvo fragilis molimine vitri
Ausa prior facinus, cui non Titania quondam
Sufficit pubes congestis montibus altis Nequidquam superas conata ascendere in arces.
(This is the finger with which the illustrious hand covered the heavens
and indicated their immense space.
It pointed to new stars with the marvellous instrument, made of glass, and revealed them to the senses. And thus it was able to reach what Titania could never attain).