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Vatican Secret Archives: 6 of the most intriguing documents in church history

One hundred documents held in the Vatican’s Secret Archives are now on display in Rome for the first time. Read our list here of six standouts.

Documents from Galileo's heresy trial

Daniele Fregonese-Vatican Secret Archives/Reuters
Proceedings of the trial of Galileo Galilei are seen in this undated photo.

The exhibition will feature documents from the 17th century trial of Galileo Galilei, whose theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun was regarded as heresy by the Catholic church. 

One of the documents bears the signature of the astronomer, who was hauled in front of the Inquisition in 1633 and was convicted of “grave suspicion of heresy.”

Galileo, who lived from 1564 to 1642, spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest. He avoided being burnt at the stake by agreeing to recant his view that the sun, not the earth, was at the center of the universe. Still, the Vatican banned his books. The Roman Catholic church only formally admitted its "error" in condemning Galileo's assertions in 1992.

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