A Rome priest is fighting for his life after being stabbed in the neck and stomach by a deranged man who had just watched the film The Da Vinci Code on television.
Eyewitnesses said that Marco Luzi, 25, asked to see Father Canio Canistri, 68, parish priest at the church of Santa Marcella in the San Saba district on the Aventine Hill, and then attacked him with a knife hidden in a cloth. An elderly parishioner who came to the priest’s aid is also in serious condition.
A Peruvian childminder and a policeman were also injured as the assailant fled through a nearby park. Police said Mr Luzi, a former medical student with a history of psychiatric problems, had admitted watching the film version of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code on television the night before the frenzied assault.
At his flat nearby, where he lived with his mother Paola, investigators found material on the Apocalypse and the anti-Christ, and the telephone number of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
There was also a large reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which is at the heart of the mystery in The Da Vinci Code, with a note pointing to one of the disciples reading: “This is the hand in which a knife is hidden”.
AN elderly Sydney priest who disarmed an intruder says he thought it was either “me or him” when he confronted the man in the church presbytery.
Father John Mello, 72, was stabbed in the arm while taking a knife from a robber less than half his age at St Kevin’s Catholic Church at Dee Why, on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The priest was having dinner and reading the paper about 7.20pm (AEST) yesterday when he heard something and disturbed the intruder, aged between 25-30.
Fr Mello said when he confronted the man, wearing a balaclava and armed with a knife about 25 to 30cm long, he was “vividly conscious” he could be “horizontal in one second”, and acted automatically to disarm his attacker.