Executions · Italy · Religion

Four men executed for allegedly murdering and beheading child for ritual

June 21, 1475
Trent, Prince-Bishopric of Trent (modern-day Trento, Italy)
Four Jews are burned at the stake or beheaded for the alleged murder of a 2-year-old Christian boy

The boy, Simon of Trent, was supposedly found in the cellar of a Jewish family’s house. However, another account mentions Simon’s body being discovered in a ditch. All Jews in the community, 18 men and 5 women, were brought together and tortured until they all confessed under coercion to killing the boy. They claimed to use his blood in blood libel, an accusation that Jews used Christian blood in Jewish rituals.

Fifteen were convicted and sentenced to death, though the women claimed that, as women, they were not allowed to participate in any rituals. The women were later released from prison in 1478 after papal intervention. One man committed suicide in jail and another was allowed to convert to Christianity, but was accused of participating in a Passover Seder and after torture he confessed; he was executed in January 1476.

Pope Sixtus IV investigated the incident and condemned the unlawfulness of the trials. The local churches tried to have Simon venerated as a Saint, though Sixtus IV was skeptical of the supposed 100+ miracles performed at his grave within a year. More than 100 years later, Pope Sixtus V restored Simon’s veneration in 1588, but in 1965 Pope Paul VI removed Simon from the Roman Martyrology. Simon is the patron saint of children, kidnap victims, and torture victims.

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