Born Virginia Gamba in 1600, the eldest of 3 illegitimate children of Galileo Galilei and Marina Gamba. Her father entered her into the Convent of San Matteo shortly after she turned 13 (along with her younger sister). There she chose the new name Maria Celeste, reflecting her father's love of astronomy. From the convent, Sister Maria Celeste maintained a close relationship with her father through letters and was a source of support for him during his conflict with the Inquisition. Galileo called Maria Celeste "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me."