A Rome priest was in intensive care on Wednesday after suffering serious injuries from being stabbed in the neck and stomach by a disturbed man who had recently watched the movie The Da Vinci Code on television.
The 25-year-old attacker, Mario Luzi, reportedly asked to see the 68-year-old Father Canio Canistri, parish priest at the church of Santa Marcella on the Avantine hill. According to the Times Online, Luzi then attacked the priest with a knife hidden in a cloth.
Retired policeman and parishioner Antonio Farrace, 78, was wounded by the attacker after coming to the assistance of the priest. He was reportedly in serious condition at a hospital.
The assailant fled through a park, stabbing a Peruvian nanny in the shoulder as she protected the three-year-old in her care. One policeman was lightly wounded in the stomach as he and his fellow officer detained Luzi.
Luzi, a former medical student with a history of psychiatric problems, admitted to watching the film of The Da Vinci Code the night before the attack.
He told police he was the antichrist, claiming he had heard voices telling him to attack the priest.
“I have carried out my mission,” he said. He carried a rosary in his pocket and a note reading “This is just the beginning: 666.”
At his apartment investigators found material on the Apocalypse and the antichrist, in addition to the phone number of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
His apartment also contained a large copy of Leonardo’s painting The Last Supper, which is featured in the Dan Brown book on which the movie is based.
A note on the painting pointed to one of the disciples and said “This is the hand in which a knife is hidden,” the Times Online says.