On this day in 1616 the Vatican's Sacred Congregation of the Index added Nicolaus Copernicus's "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" ("On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres") to its list of banned books. First published in Nuremberg in 1543, the book proposed that Earth, Mars and other planets orbit the Sun. Rejection of Copernicus's heliocentric system was not confined to the Catholic Church. Rumors of his research reached Martin Luther before the book was published. In 1539 the Protestant reformer was quoted as saying: "People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the Earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the Sun and the Moon. . . . This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still, and not the Earth."
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Vatican bans Copernicus' book
5 March 2015
© 2015 American Institute of Physics