The free tour
My favourite thing about Trento is the free tour. Bring it on I say. Shame I've only had the first ten minutes of it. Twice! (see my Intro page for humorous view).
It happens on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and is multilingual.
One of the first things you get to see on the tour (no matter how many times you take it) is the Palazzo Salvadori, a Renaissance-style palace built in the early 1500s by the Lombard artist Lucio di Pietro.
What you find out though is that it sits where the Jewish synagogue from the middle ages once was.
There are two oval medallions above the doors, sculpted by Francesco Oradini. They tell a poignant tale of how a boy was found "drowned" in the river but, upon inspection, he was believed to have been strangled.
The Jews were falsely blamed (as they seem to be for most things) and the Catholics did nothing to stem that victimization (as our guide was wont to point out) and so today these two plaques depict Simonino's martrydom and glory. The victimization was officially recanted in 1965.
A rough translation (and here I am indebted to fellow VT member tapis volant) goes as follows: "In the depths of these buildings where once there was a synagogue now a small shrine has been constructed. The blessed matyr, three toothed Simon, 29 months old,was murdered by utmost torture by the Jews on the 23rd March 1475 in the dead of night."
Here again I am indebted to tapis_volant for her work in tracking the full story down.
"Born in Trent, Italy, in 1472; died 1475. According to reports of the time, Simon was a 2-1/2-year-old Christian boy living in Trent, Italy. The story was told that the Jews met in the synagogue on Tuesday of Holy Week to decide how to celebrate Passover that year, which fell on Holy Thursday. Reportedly, they
decided to sacrifice a Christian child on Good Friday out of hatred for Christ.
A Jewish doctor cajoled young Simon from his home while his parents were attending the Tenebrae service on Wednesday evening. The story continues that he was murdered at midnight on Holy Thursday. The description of his crucifixion is horrid. After his death his body was supposedly hidden in various places to prevent his parents from finding it and finally thrown into the river.
Under intensive and terrible torture, those arrested for the crime admitted to it, were executed after further torture, and burnt. The synagogue was destroyed and a chapel erected on the spot where the child was thought to have been martyred. The child's relics now rest in a stately tomb in St Peter's Church in Trent. Though the murder was blamed on the Jews of Trent, there never was
any proof that such a crime was committed for ritualistic purposes. The account of Tiberinus, the physician who inspected the child's body, and the juridical acts can be found with recorded notes of the day.
The trial was reviewed in Rome by Sixtus IV in 1478 but he did not authorize the cultus of Saint Simon; it was done by Sixtus V in 1588, largely on account of miracles worked at his shrine.
While miracles were later reported at the child's tomb, this is not one of the more stellar events in the history of the Church as evidenced by the removal of his name from the Roman Martyrology in 1965 by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, that forbade all future veneration. The cause behind the child's death is considered quite uncertain.
As to why his feast is celebrated liturgically if it is forbidden I'll venture a guess. There are probably some churches which had been dedicated to his patronage and celebrate their patronal feast day. It is indeed possible that Simon is numbered among the saints in heaven, as evidenced by the miracles, but not for being a martyr, which is the primary reason the cultus was banned.
In art, St. Simon is a child crucified, tortured, or mocked by Jews. At times
he may be shown (1) strangled with a cloth around his neck, holding a banner,
nails, and pincers; or (2) with a palm (sign of a martyr) and long bodkin."