In May of 1972 a 33-year-old geologist named Laszlo Toth jumped a railing at St. Peter's Basilica and took a hammer to Michelangelo's Pieta, shouting "I am Jesus Christ." He took off the Virgin Mary's nose, eyelid, and right arm from the elbow down. He was given nine years.

The Pieta is now restored.

This man may well be the inspiration (in nomine) for Lazlo Toth, the SNL comedian/guerilla letter-writer/prankster pseudonym of Don Novello, who in some letters wrote to Anheuser-Busch in the 1980s pushing Bush Beer, a "kinder, gentler" beer; in others wrote to Nixon, supportively, during Watergate; and wrote frequently to the Vatican regarding the possible sainthood of Father Guido Sarducci, following a rumored miracle on a New Jersey turnpike. The naivete and subtle humor is only strengthened by the commonplace, complete hoodwinking of the target. The collected works of Lazlo can be found in the books
  • The Lazlo Letters: The Amazing, Real-Life, Actual Correspondence of Lazlo Toth, American!
  • Citizen Lazlo! : The Continuing, Unrelenting Correspondence of Lazlo Toth, American!

    His reign of 'terror' lasted about a decade.

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