Main content

Galileo's Sons

Nestled in the hills southeast of Rome lies the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. One wing of this palace serves as the headquarters for the Vatican Observatory, where since 1891 Jesuit astronomers and astrophysicists have applied their scientific expertise to fundamental questions that engage all people of faith: how did this universe come to be, and what is our place in it?

GALILEO'S SONS offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at this remarkable institution, an astronomical observatory in the Church which silenced Galileo. The scientists who work there are the spiritual descendants of 17th-century Italian astronomer Galileo, whose investigations confirmed the Copernican view of the sun as the center of the solar system, and who was forced to renounce his conclusions because they conflicted with Church teachings.

As the only research scientists sponsored by the Catholic Church, these Jesuit scientists occupy a unique nexus in our understanding of the universe, one in which our wonder and awe of life is only enhanced by scientific understanding. Expertly crafted by writer-director Alison Rose, GALILEO'S SONS provides unique insight into the complex relationship between spirituality and scientific investigation, and explores some of the profound questions that astronomical science poses for religious faith.

'It's a gem of a film, so carefully thought out and constructed...a very mature piece of work.' Mark Achbar, director of The Corporation and Manufacturing Consent

'Galileo's Sons is clearly one of the best and brightest of the season, packed with information, debate and some of the most gorgeous scenes of the solar system in offering a rare look inside the Vatican Observatory...[A]n intimate peep into eternity by producer/director Alison Rose.' Starweek Magazine

'Alison Rose took an obscure and difficult subject and made it fascinating and beautiful to look at.' Kevin McMahon, director of The Falls, In the Reign of Twilight

'Gently explores how the centre, run by a church perceived as an enemy of science, can be taken seriously. It offers fascinating comments from students who struggle with the issue.' The Globe and Mail

'Galileo's Sons raises ultimate questions in a gentle yet daring way. In an inspiring synthesis of audacity and humility, the film gives an impression of the beauty of the universe and the human endeavor to explore it. In Galileo's Sons scientific knowledge, awe, and joy form a great coalition.' Antje Jackelen, Dr. Theol., Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science (ZCRS), Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

'Catholic and Christian schools will find this video useful as an introduction to discussions about science and religion. Public school humanities classes will find it a worthwhile resource to use when discussing the Galileo affair and its aftermath as part of Western civilization courses. Courses dealing with issues surrounding contemporary science and society will also make good use of this resource. Science teachers can develop a better understanding of the dialogue between science and religion by viewing this video.' Science Books and Films


Main credits

Rose, Alison (film producer)
Rose, Alison (film director)
Rose, Alison (screenwriter)

Other credits

Cinematographers, Rudolph Blahacek [and 4 others]; edited by David Kazala, Steven J. Weslak; composer, Robert Carli.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Critical Thinking
Physical Science
Science, Technology, Society
The Vatican
Women's Studies


Vatican Observatory, cosmology, Jesuit astronomers, the Pope, Castel Gandolfo, astrophysics, Galileo, Copernicus, science and religion; "Galileo's Sons"; Bullfrog Films