VICENZA, Italy — A man who claims to see and speak to the Virgin Mary and 35 of his followers have been indicted for abusing the public faith, the Italian news agency ANSA reported today.
A Vicenza magistrate is investigating Renato Baron and his organization, Work of Love, which guides Italian and foreign pilgrims to the hill where Baron says his encounters with the Madonna have taken place. If found guilty, they could get three months in jail and an $1,800 fine each.
Baron and the members of his organization were recently found innocent of embezzlement charges in nearby Venice. The group has accepted donations from the faithful who flock to the hilltop hoping to catch a glimpse of the Madonna.