1. The Martyrdom of Giordano Bruno

400th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Giordano Bruno

Bruno was one of the most famous victims of the Inquisition which was responsible for the deaths of thousands of heretics. He was killed by an order of the Holy Office, in the Holy Year of Jubilee under the reign of Clement VIII, pontiff of the Holy Roman Church. Later, in the nineteenth century a statue to the cause of freethought was erected in the square of his martyrdom. Here his death is celebrated every year with a public demonstration which was prohibited during the period of fascism.

Bruno, Italian renaissance philosopher, scientist and poet was born in 1548 at Nola near Naples.Originally named Filippo, he took the name of Giordano (Jordan) when he joined the Dominicans who trained him in Aristotelian philosophy and Thomistic theology. An independent thinker, he fled the order in 1576 to avoid a trial over his doctrinal position and began his wandering that characterized his life.

Bruno visited Geneva, Toulouse, Paris and London where he passed two years from 1583 to 1585 under the protection of the French ambassador and in the circle of the English poet Sir Philip Sidney. During this time he composed "Ash Wednesday Dinner", "On the Infinite Universe and Worlds" and the dialogue "On Cause, Principle and Unity". A large part of his work however seems to be lost. Many believe it stays hidden in the Vatican archives.

In 1585 Bruno returned to Paris, then to Marburg, Wittenburg, Prague, Helmstedt and Frankfurt where he arranged the printing of a number of works. It was on the invitation of a Venetian nobleman, Giovanni Moncenigo, that Bruno returned to Italy. In 1592 the same Moncenigo denounced Bruno to the Inquisition which tried him for heresy. He was imprisoned for 8 years while questioning proceeded. Refusing to recant Bruno was burned at the stake in the Field of Flowers, naked with a nail through his tongue, on February 17th 1600.

Bruno is considered a precursor of modern philosophy due to his influence on the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza and his anticipation of 17th century monism.

The National Association of Freethought is organizing this year, together with like-minded organizations united in the Secular and Libertarian Committee, a three - day program with speeches, music and theatrical presentations from today until February 19 that culminates with a great demonstration in the Campo de Fiori.