Philosopher Giordano Bruno, burned for heresy in 1600, has become a symbol of free expression and tolerance

Every year on 17 February, a crowd gathers in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori to lay wreaths, poems and candles at the foot of the statue that glowers towards the Vatican from beneath its friar’s cowl. The man it memorialises, the Neapolitan philosopher Giordano Bruno, was burned alive by the Inquisition on that spot in 1600, for heresies including several books in which he advocated the heliocentric cosmology of Copernicus and argued that the universe was infinite and contained multiple other worlds.

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