Human Spirit Day is celebrated around the world in honor of the free thought and power of the human spirit, in memory of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was executed by burning at the stake on February 17, 1600, for presenting beliefs contrary to the spirit of the Catholic Church at the time.
Giordano Bruno was a scientist, philosopher and astronomer born in 1548 in southern Italy during the Renaissance.
When he was born he was called Filippo, but when he grew up and was 17, he decided to become a Dominican monk and his master in the monastery gave him a new name: Giordano, after the Jordan River that always flows, like Filippo's thoughts. In 1572 he was ordained a priest.
Bruno was a very learned and curious man, who read countless books and writings. He was interested in Egyptian philosophy, memory and mythology and was greatly influenced by the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato and the Polish mathematician astronomer Copernicus. His interest in science was not well received among the Dominican order at the time and he was forced to leave Italy to escape the Inquisition, the Catholic institution that persecuted, tortured and executed anyone considered to be opposed to religion.
Bruno traveled around Europe and managed to teach philosophy and write books about his new ideas, each time finding people who gave him protection from the Catholic Church like the King of France, Henry III.
In 1583 he came to England and tried to be accepted for teaching at the University of Oxford. He was not accepted even though Henry III recommended him. He was also unable to be accepted to other universities in England.
Because of his preoccupation with memory he was accused of practicing witchcraft and because of his connections with the French king he was accused of being a spy for France, but he stuck to his ideas and kept exploring and disseminating them.
He published important writings such as "The Italian Dialogues", and defended Copernicus' teachings about the universe. He introduced the theory of the structure of the universe and argued that the stars visible in the sky are suns, the universe is infinite and contains many worlds.
In 1585 he returned to Paris, but because of his views against the Catholic Church even there he was no longer accepted by the people, and he left for Germany.
In Germany he was accepted for a teaching position at the University of Wittenberg, where he taught for two years. In 1588 he was forced to leave Germany and move to Prague, after the name of the intellectual climate also changed and it became undesirable. In Prague he received money from King Rudolf II, but did not find a teaching post. He returned to Germany and was a professor at the University of Helmstedt in northern Germany, which he too was forced to leave when boycotted by Lutherans.
In 1951, while in Frankfurt, he received an invitation to Venice from Giovanni Mochenigo, one of the city's rulers, who asked him to help him develop his memory. He also heard about a vacancy teaching position for mathematics at the University of Padua. At that time the conservative pope Sixtus V died, and Bruno thought that now the Inquisition had lost its power, and would be safe to return to Italy.
He taught for a year at Padua, until he was fired and in his place the post was handed over to Galileo Galilei.
He moved to Venice and there taught Giovanni Mochenigo, the ruler who invited him to help him with his memory problems. Mochango expected Bruno to open his memory with magic, and was disappointed when Bruno taught him his system of shortcuts. Out of anger, Mochengo turned Bruno over to the Inquisition. On May 22, 1592, Bruno was arrested and sent to Rome for trial.
For six years Bruno was imprisoned. The Inquisition required him to fully deny his ideas but he refused. He was declared a heretic and burned at the stake on February 17, 1600 in Campo di Fiori, Rome. To prevent him from continuing to speak, the Inquisitors nailed his tongue to his jaw. To ease his agony during the execution, they tied a bag of gunpowder around his neck as they brought him to the stake.
Giordano Bruno is considered the first person to be executed by religion, in the name of science. He is considered the first "martyr" (martyred saint), who was willing to die for his faith in science.
He was accused of not believing in ductism, the belief that a third was not a physical body of man, and that he did not believe in the Holy Trinity. Until the last minute Bruno refused to back down from his ideas and when his sentence was read he said: "Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it."
(This is probably why they decided to nail his tongue).
After his death, in 1603, he began to gain recognition for his ideas and they were compiled and published in the book.
In 1899 a monument was erected in his memory, in Campo de 'Fiori, Italy, the place where he was executed.
Around 2000, 400 years after Bruno's execution, during the tenure of Pope John Paul II, the Christian Church expressed "deep sorrow" at the execution and recognized it as a mistake.
On the day of the human spirit people all over the world are invited to think about the right they have to free thought, which is not a matter of course. This day is designed to promote peace, love and creativity in the world and eliminate the bad thoughts, egos and aggression that create conflicts.
February 17 is also My Way day
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