Vatican Court Convicts Climate Activists For Ruining Statue

Vatican Court Convicted Two Italian Climate Activists to Pay More Than $30,000 For Gluing Themselves to Ancient Statue.

Jun 14, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
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Guido Viero and Ester Goffi, ordered to pay $30,000 for damaging an ancient statue. VIA GETTY IMAGES


Vatican Court convicted climate activists Guido Viero and Ester Goffi of paying more than $30,000 for ruining an ancient statue. Last August, two Italians glued themselves to the statue of Laocoön and His Sons, and now have to pay the money as restitution. This happened during major climate protests in Italy.


Symbolic Reasons for Attacking the Statue

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Head of the older son, Antiphantes. Via Wikipedia


Guido Viero and Ester Goffi are the Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) environmental activist group members. While protesting they held a banner saying “Last Generation: No gas and no carbon” in Italian. Laura Zorzini, also an activist, filmed the two. Last Generation stated they decided to go after this statue because of its symbolic meaning.


The heartbreaking depiction illustrates two enormous sea snakes attacking and killing the priest of Apollo and his sons. The gods Athena and Poseidon sent the serpents. The statue, first unearthed in Rome in 1506, is currently regarded  being among the most priceless pieces of art in the Vatican Museums.


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Laocoön and his sons, also known as the Laocoön Group. Marble, copy after an Hellenistic original from ca. 200 BC. Found in the Baths of Trajan, 1506. Via Wikipedia


Laocoön also attempted to forewarn his fellow Trojans against allowing the Greek steed that was earlier left outside the town’s doors after the Trojan War. The organization claimed that researchers and activists work to alert others surrounding them regarding the effects of present acts on tomorrow, much like Laocoön did.

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Vatican Court Requests Jail Time

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A two-year term and a $3,240 (€3,000) penalty for both Viero and Goffi, as well as an a single month punishment for Zorzini, are what the Vatican prosecutor, Catia Summaria, asked for. Summaria said, fortunately, that if the court chose to impose suspended sentences, they should pay back the whole amount of the harm done to Laocoön and His Sons.


The cost of the renovation alone was $3,400 (€3,148). Guy Devreux, the director of the granite repair facility for the Vatican Museums, stated during an earlier trial  the sculpture’s stone foundation was “absolutely” a “integral part of the work”. The foundation of Laocoön and His Sons sustained long-term harm as a result of the climate change demonstration, though less than Devreaux expected.


Baldacchino, Bernini, 1623-1634, Bronze, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
Baldacchino, Bernini, 1623-1634, Bronze, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City


Viero and Goffi both faced a $1,750 (€1,620) charge along with $30,000 in reparations and a nine-month suspended sentence. Zorzini received a $130 (€120) fine. The lawyer for the Vatican City State, Floriana Gigli, asserted that Viero and Goffi understood their activity would result in “inestimable” harm to the artwork by referencing their choice to attach their hands to the foundation.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.