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Rabbis in Italy Lift 500-year-old Excommunication of Trent Province

February 24, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Italian Rabbinical Board ended today a writ of excommunication imposed on the town and province of Trent nearly 500 years ago after a group of 12 Trent Jews were executed on a ritual murder charge. The action, which declares Jews are now permitted to live and trade in the area, was purely symbolic, since Jews have long done so.

The rabbinical action was in effect a response to a pastoral letter issued in October, 1965, by the Archbishop of Trent, Alessandro Gottardi, declaring the Jews innocent of the charge. The letter was dated to coincide with the promulgation by Pope Paul VI of the Ecumenical Council declaration repudiating the charge of collective Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus.

The incident took place in 1475 when a two-year-old boy named Simon, son of a local tanner, vanished. His body was found two days later, on March 26, by one of the 25 Jews of Trent. Under the authority of the Prince-Bishop of Trent, a “trial” was held of most of the 25 Jews. Most of the “defendants” were tortured to death on “charges” the child was killed in Jewish worship.

Simon was recognized for centuries as a Blessed–eligible for local veneration–but never formally beatified by the Congregation of Rites of the Vatican. A panel in a Trent church, graphically portraying the alleged murder, was covered up several years ago.

The Rabbinical Board also expressed gratitude to Archbishop Gottardi for his initiative in ending the five-centuries-old libel against the Jews.

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