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Paolo Antonio Foscarini

1580-1616

Paolo Antonio Foscarini was born in 1580 in Montalto Uffugo in Calabria. He embraced the ecclesiastical life at an early age and was twice Provincial of the Carmelite Order. He was a professor of theology in Naples and Messina. In 1615 he published his Lettera... sopra l'opinione de' pittagorici e del Copernico della mobilità della Terra e stabilità del Sole, e del nuovo pittagorico sistema del mondo (Naples, 1615), in which he proposed a dubious reinterpretation of texts drawn from Holy Scriptures in support of the heliocentric theory. The book aroused immediate reactions and the theologian himself wrote to Cardinal Bellarmino (1542-1621) asking his opinion of the work. Foscarini's letter gave Bellarmino the chance to expound his idea, which would become central at Galileo's trials, that the Copernican doctrine must be taken into consideration only when speaking ex suppositione and not as a reality. On March 5, 1616, Foscarini's work was condemned and banned by the Holy Congregation of the Index.