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December 13, 1965


JAMA. 1965;194(11):1243-1244. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090240077028

Michael Servetus, scholastic theologian, translator of Ptolemy, discoverer of the lesser circulation of blood, practicing physician, and unrestrained thinker in law, philosophy, mathematics, astrology, and materia medica, paid with his life for advocating his interpretation of the scriptural precepts of Christianity. He was born at Tudela, in the province of Navarre, Spain, where his father was a royal notary living in comfortable circumstances.1 In his infancy the family moved to Villanueva de Sijena, northeast of Saragossa; at the age of 14 or 15, Michael studied Latin and Greek while secretary to a Franciscan friar, Juan Quintana, who later became confessor to the emperor Charles V. Although a devout Catholic, Michael abandoned his study for the priesthood in favor of law at the University of Toulouse. It was here that he discovered the simple doctrines of the Bible and found a religion quite different from that which he had been