Galilei, Maria Celeste (1600–1634)

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Galilei, Maria Celeste (1600–1634)

Italian nun. Name variations: Virginia Galilei. Born Virginia Galilei, 1600, in Padua, Italy; died April 2, 1634, in the convent of San Matteo; illeg. dau. of Galileo Galilei (astronomer and physicist) and Marina Gamba (Galileo's housekeeper); sister of Livia Galilei (1601–1659, known as Sister Arcangela) and Vincenzio Galilei.

Was brought to Florence with sister by their father (1610); along with sister, was placed in the impoverished convent of San Matteo in nearby Arcetri (1613), after father managed a dispensation from a cardinal friend, since the girls were too young to make the decision; took the veil (1616), choosing the name Sister Maria Celeste; her loving and solicitous letters to her father survive (1623–34).

See also Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter: Letters and Essays.