Oh sure, it sounds kind of sick now, but back then this was standard practice for preserving saints. That's right--this heretic of the church was believed by his, er, mutilators, to be a saint of science!
They were purchased recently at an auction by a person who brought them to the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, suspecting what they were, museum director Paolo Galluzzi said.
Three fingers were cut from Galileo's hand in March 1737, when his body was moved from a temporary monument to its final resting place in Florence, Italy.
The museum has had the other finger since the 1920s and is hoping to set up a reunion (of sorts). Interesting tid-bit, the fingers that were removed were the same ones he'd have used to hold a pen. Must have been some magic in those crusty old fingers!
Read more about the gruesome find. MSNBC has an article as well.