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The Press: Trouble with the Bible

2 minute read

Italy’s 15 million fumetti fans—readers of the photographic romance magazines that take their name from the dialogue balloons—usually go for soap-opera plots. But last winter a Milan fumetto entrepreneur, Pino Vignal, scored a modest inaugural success —80,000 copies—with a fumetto magazine based on the Bible.

Hailed at first as a way to bring the Bible closer to the people, Vignal’s La Bibbia soon encountered more trials than Job. The Italian Rabbinical Council denounced La Bibbia as “sacrilege”; Milan’s Roman Catholic Cardinal Montini withdrew the nihil obstat of the church. Sales slumped, and ugly rumors grew that Vignal’s crew of actors, who posed for the crude Biblical scenes, lived private lives of less than Biblical probity.

Last week Milan cops arrested Vignal, unmasked him as one Giuseppe Tosini, well known to Roman law authorities as a swindler, cigarette smuggler, drunk and vagrant wanted on four counts. La Bibbia’s fate—Tosini had two years worth of Scripture scripts—was left in doubt. To get the public and the Bible closer together, said Monsignor Enrico Galbiati, Milan’s Roman Catholic ecclesiastical censor, it will be necessary to bring the public level up rather than drag the Bible down.

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