ROME (Sep. 1)
The Diocese of Trento, in northern Italy, has started the removal from the Trento Cathedral of pictures and sculptures depicting the alleged ritual murder by Jews of a Christian boy–Simon of Trent–500 years ago, it was reported here today.
The disappearance in 1475 of Simon Unverdorben, a three-year-old child, before Passover of that year, touched off false rumors that he had been killed by Trento Jews for use of his blood for their Passover meal, The Jews of Trento were forced to “confess” the alleged crime by unspeakable tortures, and were then executed by burning and beheading. A papal bull of June 20, 1478, confirmed the handling of the Trento Jews as “proper,” and beatified the boy as a martyr. Worship of the embalmed body of the boy in “his” chapel continued, with worshipers observing the pictures and sculptures showing Simon’s alleged murder by the Jews.
In recent years, the chapel containing this medieval horror story has been opened “only” once a year. Fifteenth century rabbis placed a ban on Trento and its territory, to last as long as the ritual murder libel was continued.
The pictures will be transferred to a museum to remind future generations of Italy’s dark ages. The stained glass of Simon’s “martyrdom” will be replaced by one of Moses. In the chapel itself, a statue of the late Pope John XXIII will symbolize the new era of Catholic-Jewish relations.
Many leading Jewish, Catholic and Protestant personalities have sought during the past century to have the ancient charge retracted, and the material in the Cathedral removed.