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Simon of Trent
(Cult suppressed)
Pietro Stefanoni Simon von Trient.jpg
Youth, catalyst
Born Early 1472
Died 21 March 1475
Venerated by Roman Catholics (formerly)
Feast March 24 (no longer celebrated)
Attributes Youth, martyrdom
Patron saint of Children, kidnap victims, torture victims

Simon of Trent (German: Simon Unverdorben; Italian: Simonino di Trento); also known as Simeon; (1472 – March 21, 1475) was a boy from the city of Trento, Italy whose disappearance was blamed on the leaders of the city's Jewish community based on their confessions under torture[1], causing a major blood libel in Europe.



Shortly before Simon went missing, Bernardine of Feltre, an itinerant Franciscan preacher, had delivered a series of sermons in Trent in which he vilified the local Jewish community. When Simon went missing around Easter, 1475, his father decided that he must have been kidnapped and murdered by Jews. According to his story, the Jews had drained Simon of his blood, supposedly for use in baking their Passover matzohs and for occult rituals that they allegedly practiced in private.

Giving a succinct background to the story, historian Ronnie Po-chia Hsia wrote: "On Easter Sunday 1475, the dead body of a 2-year-old Christian boy named Simon was found in the cellar of a Jewish family's house in Trent, Italy. Town magistrates arrested 18 Jewish men and five Jewish women on the charge of ritual murder - the killing of a Christian child in order to use his blood in Jewish religious rites. In a series of interrogations that involved liberal use of judicial torture, the magistrates obtained the confessions of the Jewish men. Eight were executed in late June, and another committed suicide in jail".[2]

The leaders of the Jewish community were arrested, and seventeen of them were forced to confess under torture. Fifteen of them, including Samuel, the head of the community, were sentenced to death and burned at the stake. Meanwhile, Simon became the focus of veneration for the local Catholic Church. The local bishop, Hinderbach of Trent, tried to have Simon canonized, producing a large body of documentation of the event and its aftermath.[3] Over one hundred miracles were directly attributed to Saint Simon within a year of his disappearance, and his cult spread across Italy, Austria and Germany. However, there was initial skepticism and Pope Sixtus IV sent Bishop of Ventimiglia, a learned Dominican, to investigate.[4] The veneration was restored in 1588 by the Franciscan Pope Sixtus V. The 'saint' was eventually considered a martyr and a patron of kidnap and torture victims. Simonino was never canonized as a saint,[5] although the Franciscan pope approved a special Mass in honor of Simonino ("little Simon") to be said in the diocese of Trento, Italy.[6] The cult survived until 1965, when, in the wake of the Holocaust, it was abolished by the Pope.[7]

His entry in the old Roman Martyrology for March 24 read:[8]

Tridénti pássio sancti Simeónis púeri, a Judǽis sævíssime trucidáti, qui multis póstea miráculis coruscávit.
(Translated) At Trent, the martyrdom of the boy St. Simeon, who was barbarously murdered by the Jews, but who was afterwards glorified by many miracles.

Simon of Trent does not appear in the new Roman Martyrology of 2000, nor on any modern Catholic calendar.

Image gallery

See also


  1. ^ Po-chia Hsia, Ronnie (2007-02-20). "The real blood of Passover". Hareetz. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  2. ^ Toaff Controversy
  3. ^ Paul Oskar Kristeller, The Alleged Ritual Murder of Simon of Trent (1475) and Its Literary Repercussions: A Bibliographical Study,Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 59. (1993), pp. 103-135
  4. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Biblioteca Sanctorum, vol. 11, p. 1186
  6. ^ A Blood Libel Cult:Anderl von Rinn, d.1462 (Medieval Sourcebook)
  7. ^ R. Po-Chia Hsia Trent 1475, Yale University Press, 135; (German)Marco Polo und Rustichello: „notre livre“ und die Unfaßbarkeit der Wunder
  8. ^ The Roman Martyrology, March 24, [1] retrieved May 8, 2007

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