Published: Wednesday, 23 November 2022 – Newsroom
ROCCA DI PAPA (event) – On November 23, 1825, the 25-year-old doctor from Cesena was beheaded (together with Angelo Targhini) by mastro Titta in Piazza del Popolo for a murder never committed. Rocca di Papa dedicated its schools to him
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The November 23, 1825 the carbonaro was sentenced to death for “harm majesty” and executed Leonidas Montanaritogether with Angelo Targhiniin a Piazza del Popolo packed with about thirty thousand people, right in the heart of Rome.
Born in Cesena on 26 April 1800, from an early age Montanari showed a passion for caring for the sick and despite not coming from a wealthy family, he regularly completed his schooling in his hometown. Later, at the age of nineteen he moved to Bologna to undertake university studies in Medicine and Surgery, which he was then able to continue in Rome, attending the local university and completing an internship at the hospital of Santo Spirito in Saxia. After obtaining his medical degree, towards the end of 1823 he was appointed doctor taken to Rocca di Papawhere he carried out his profession with competence and passion, above all placing himself at the service of a population that was mostly indigent and in need of constant attention and care.
In Rome Leonidas Montanari approached the Carbonaribecoming a frequent visitor to one of the so-called “sales” (secret Carbonare meetings) called Constancefounded by Angelo Targhini from Brescia, son of the cook of Pope Pius VII.
Montanari joined the Carboneria inspired by the noblest ideals, that is with the intention of making his own contribution to the “awakening of national sentiment”.
The night between 4 and 5 June 1825, however, proved unfortunate for the young doctor: in fact, while he was walking in the company of Angelo Targhini near the church of Sant’Andrea della ValleGiuseppe Pontini from Belluno, a Carbonari who had betrayed his “sale” by turning into a spy in the service of government authorities, was wounded in the right side with a knife blow, even if the blow later turned out to be non-fatal.
No evidence was advanced for the guilt of Leonidas Montanari, who knowing himself innocent, did nothing to escape justice and unlike almost all of the other under investigation, did not accuse any of his companions without proof.
Despite this, in the name of the “Pope King” Leo XII (1760-1829) who showed very little Christian piety, a special court was set up which condemned the alleged culprits Leonida Montanari and Angelo Targhini without any proof, but based simply on the testimony of an informer. In reality, the two young men were guilty only of being Carbonari, that is to say of being inspired by values incompatible with the temporal power of the Church.
Speaking of the horror of a justicialist Judiciary that imposes its own truth, Montanari left a warning written on the wall of the prison where he was locked up before his execution, a sort of invitation to future generations: “Listen wisely, believe wisely, decide justly”.
And so it was that that day at the end of November 1825 two heads rolled at the hands of Master Tittathe executioner of the Papal States from 1796 to 1864. The execution took place in a Piazza del Popolo crowded with people, a crowd of souls who were silent and defenseless against a papal Rome and the center of Catholic spirituality.
Both were buried at Muro Torto, in the deconsecrated land where suicides, thieves, prostitutes and vagabonds ended up. Even today to the left of Porta del Popolo, next to the Carabinieri barracks, you can read the plaque in memory of the execution of the two carbonari on purpose in 1909, created by the Orvieto sculptor Lorenzo Cozza.
Furthermore, the dramatic story of Leonida Montanari and Angelo Targhini was also brought to the big screen by the director Luigi Magni, in the film In the year of the Lord (1969) starring Nino Manfredi, as well as the two French actors Robert Hossein and Renaud Verley, who respectively interpreted Montanari and Targhini.
In Rocca di Papa instead, the Castelli Romani town where Leonida Montanari worked as a doctor and did so much for the Rocca community, theState Comprehensive Institute to the Cesena surgeon, located in the area of the old funicular, downstream of the former Pro-Rocca.
And on Corso Constituente, already via dei Palazzi due to the historic buildings that overlook it, you can admire the commemorative plaque with an epigraph of the famous poet Giovanni Pascoli, in memory of the shedding of innocent blood.
by Flavia Santangeli