The Prophet of the Mountain – The Story of David Lazzaretti: Saint, Heretic, Subversive

by Manfredi Rutelli

David Lazzaretti (Arcidosso, Grosseto, 1848-78) was a prophet who communicated with God through visions of a disconcerting power. In 1870 he set up a Christian community on Mount Labbro in Tuscany, organized along proto-socialist lines, and tried all his life to take his Word to Rome in order to refound the Church, “which had become a business.” Excommunicated, condemned as a heretic and subversive, he was killed by the police of the newborn Italian state while leading a colorful and festive procession that was intended to bring the new holy society to Rome. His body, preserved in formalin, was sent to the museum of Cesare Lombroso, founder of the science of criminal anthropology, and placed in the “Religious Criminals” section. The ignorant people made a saint out of him: Saint David, the Impure Christ, the Prophet of Arcidosso.