In Rome, Virginia, Federzoni, the Little Monk, and Andrea await the outcome of Galileo’s questioning by the Inquisition. All of them are confident that Galileo will not recant his position, but they fear that this will mean his death. The Little Monk wonders if they’ll allow him to keep his proving stone. Virginia prays that Galileo will recant. It is his twenty-fourth day in prison.
Interestingly, unlike Jesus, none of Galileo’s disciples seem to be in danger of persecution themselves. No doubt this makes their confidence in him to not recant (and indeed their own desire for him to not recant) much easier.
Moments later an official appears to tell them that Galileo is expected to recant. Shortly thereafter, he does, and his statement is read to the public. His pupils rebel, and when Galileo appears, Andrea won’t so much as look at him.
As with his stealing of the telescope early in the play, Galileo’s decision to recant seems to call his greatness into question.