Heresy in Campo de’ Fiori, Rome

Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam” – Giordano Bruno, February 8th 1600.

What is today one of the trendiest piazzas in Rome, Campo de’ Fiori, picturesque corner resting between fountain-clothed Piazza Navona and Trastevere, the quaint, laid-back heart of medieval Rome, has been once upon a time place of fear, intolerance and persecution.

Sadly, due to the Inquisition, during the Middle Ages Rome faced the same terror Cordoba did.

The man in this picture is Giordano Bruno, Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, astronomer and mathematician sentenced to death and burnt at the stake right where his statue is standing today. He had been tortured and finally murdered for… essentially nothing, which is the main reason why at that time the Inquisition used to torture and kill many other people. This nothingness usually assumed the name of “heresy”.

Rigid doctrines, fear of the unknown, deep ignorance, intolerance, backwardness and, please allow me, a good dose of mental instability, was what characterized the Catholic Church back then.

Reading the work of Erasmo of Rotterdam, rejecting the traditional geocentrism cherished by the Church (seemingly, at the time, the main expert in scientific issues), but especially the modernity of his own ideas and theories was what condemned Giordano Bruno to death. I guess it’s the destiny of all great minds to live in an era where their value is belittled, misjudged and voluntarily stopped for fear of seeing the current powers undermined.

When his sentence was pronounced, Giordano Bruno said the famous words “Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam” (It may be you fear more to deliver judgement upon me than I fear judgement), and when he was dying, on February 17th 1600, he refused to look at the crucifix, with which he was sharing the destiny, and which the Church wanted to make appear as his torturer.

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18 Comments
  1. Quel article interessant, destiné à un public….cultivé!

  2. Che bello articolo, come sempre interessante e non banale!

  3. Oh how very dark and very interesting. We’re off to Rome for the first time ever at the end of April. Will be sure to look up this statue.
    Julia

  4. What a story. Great photo of this statue.

  5. Such a tragic story. I appreciate that you provided the details of what really happened, most general tours avoid specific incidents like this but this is an important part of history that people need to be aware of.

    • Usually tour guides would tell you about this specific story, but very often they only tackle the “fantastic” aspects of a country. Which is understandable tourist-wise, but kind of unrealistic..

  6. Very interesting, Angela. I was researching the Albigensian Crusade and Languedoc for an article a few years ago. My god… the things that have been done in the name of religion…

  7. The Inquisition was such a despicable and tragic part of history. Very interesting story of Giordano Bruno. His statue is quite powerful.

  8. Interesting – I have a number of photos right in that piazza, including several with the statue in it. I never quite understood the significance of the Bruno statue – I do remember we had some really nice cheese and wine in the square though!

    I was raised Catholic – unfortunately, I think the church still has a tradition or ignorance and intolerance. I’ll just say that in the US, there is a big political debate on the church driving its beliefs through our political system.

  9. Reply
    Annie@GreenTravelReviews October 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve read a lot my entire life and stories like these always held a fascination for me, even if they are terrifying… The horror people have been capable of. Thanks for sharing this, though, I’m still fascinated :-)

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