Two priests were violently attacked in Rome's Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore on Saturday, January 7 –  their faces slashed with a broken bottle. 

Fr. Adolfo Ralf, Father Superior of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, was slashed on the cheek by 42-year-old Renzo Cerro, a homeless man who burst into the sacristy and brandished the neck of a broken bottle. Fr. Angelo Gaeta, sacristan at the Basilica, was more seriously injured, sustaining a deep wound from cheekbone to chin. Both priests were treated in the hospital and are expected to make a full recovery.

Attacker Had a Troubled History

Renzo Cerro, the attacker, attempted to flee the basilica on foot; but he was stopped in the nearby Piazza Dante by Carabinieri, Italian police, and by the basilica's own guards who were patrolling the area surrounding the basilica – part of an enhanced police presence in the wake of recent terror threats against the Vatican. According to The Italian Insider, Cerro suffers from psychological disorders and already had a criminal record. When he was apprehended, he told the officers, “The Church does not understand me.”