On Saturday 22 May, the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus were exhumed from their tomb under the floor of the cathedral in Frombork, Poland. Then, in a ceremony conducted by the Polish Catholic Church, he was re-interred with honours, and a new black granite tombstone decorated with images of the Sun and six planets was placed above the grave. Archbishop Wojciech Ziemba said “Today’s funeral has symbolic value in that it is a gesture of reconciliation between science and faith. Science and faith can be reconciled.”
This seems odd, however, since Copernicus was in fact a canon of the church where he was buried, and was a respected civic leader and famous academic. He never suffered any persecution and was already honoured by being buried under the church floor. In fact the only opposition to his idea that the Earth was not at the centre of the universe came from fellow astronomers and armchair academics.
It was only long after his death that the church branded his Heliocentric model of the universe “Heretical”, as part of a wide-sweeping defence against Martin Luther’s reformation, a ridiculous premise considering how little the bible has to say about the universe beyond Earth!
A biography of Nicolaus Copernicus can be found here: http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Copernicus.html