Laszlo Toth Being Subdued after Vandalizing the Pieta in 1972
Laszlo Toth, a Hungarian-born Australian geologist, infamously vandalised Michelangelo’s Pietà statue on 21 May 1972. Toth, swinging his geologist’s hammer, shouted, “I am Jesus Christ risen from the dead!!!” as he landed 15 blows on the priceless statue. He broke of her left elbow, nose, and one of her eyelids.
American sculptor Bob Cassilly ran forward pulled Toth away from the Pietà.
Regrettably, tourists immediately grabbed the pieces of marble that scattered under Toth’s hammer. Some pieces were returned to the Vatican, but many were not, including Mary’s nose, which had to be reconstructed from a block of marble cut out of her back.
After the attack, the work was painstakingly restored and returned to its place in St. Peter’s Basilica. Michaelangelo’s masterpiece is now protected by a bullet-proof acrylic glass panel.
Toth was not charged with the crime in view of his apparent insanity. On 29 January 1973, he was committed to an Italian psychiatric hospital. He was released on 9 February 1975, and was immediately deported to Australia. He resides in a nursing home in Strathfield, NSW, Australia.
I don’t know what’s more disturbing – his attack on Christendom’s most famous image of Jesus and Mary or his claim: “I am Jesus Christ risen from the dead!!!”