Lucilio (Giulio Cesare) Vanini (Died)

On this date in 1619, Lucilio (Giulio Cesare) Vanini, an Italian heretic priest, was burned to death for atheism in France. Born in 1585, Vanini was educated in philosophy and theology at Rome University, and took the priesthood after studying the canon law in Padua about 1603. He traveled widely throughout Europe, espousing his rationalist viewpoint and supporting himself by giving lessons. Vanini was driven from France in 1614. After taking refuge in England, he spent 49 days in the Tower of London. Returning to Italy, he was driven out of Genoa. Vanini went to southern France where he published a book critical of atheism in 1615, in an attempt to clear himself from charges of heresy. The following year his second book was published, which is credited with being closer to his real views, in which he advanced a naturalistic philosophy, calling the human soul mortal. The book was ordered burned by the Sorbonne, and Vanini was charged with atheism. He was arrested in 1618 in Toulouse. After being found guilty, he was condemned, as an atheist, to have his tongue cut off, to be strangled at the stake, and to have his body burned to ashes. It is said he refused the ministration of a priest. An anti-Christian critic of scholasticism, he is credited with laying the foundation of modern philosophy.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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