Simon of Trent
|Died||21 March 1475
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||Never officially canonized|
|Patronage||Children, kidnap victims, torture victims|
|Catholic cult suppressed||After the Congregation|
Simon of Trent (German: Simon Unverdorben ("Simon Immaculate"); 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 his dead body being found in the cellar of a Jewish family's house.
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 matzo and for occult rituals that they allegedly practiced in private.
According to historian Ronnie Po-chia Hsia: "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".
The entire Jewish community (both men and women) were arrested and forced to confess under torture. Fifteen of them, including Samuel, the head of the community, were sentenced to death and burned at the stake. The Jewish women accused as accomplices were tortured, but freed from prison in 1478 due to papal intervention. The case at Trent also inspired accusations of ritual murder against Jews throughout the surrounding regions.
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. 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. 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. His entry in the old Roman Martyrology for March 24 read: 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.
Pope Paul VI removed Simon from the Calendar of Saints in 1965. Simon of Trent does not appear in the new Roman Martyrology of 2000, nor on any modern Catholic calendar.
Stone medallion with the purported martyrdom scene of Simonino di Trento. Palazzo Salvadori, Trent
- Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, 1255.
- William of Norwich
- Werner of Oberwesel
- Andreas Oxner
- Robert of Bury
- Harold (martyr)
- Toaff Controversy
- Paul Oskar Kristeller, "The Alleged Ritual Murder of Simon of Trent (1475) and Its Literary Repercussions: a bibliographical study", in: Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 59. (1993), pp. 103-135
- Jewish Encyclopedia
- The Roman Martyrology, March 24,  retrieved May 8, 2007
- R. Po-chia Hsia, Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial, Yale University 1992, ISBN 0-300-05106-9
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