Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara - A LEGAL KIDNAPPING

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882) created this painting, "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara," in 1862. The long-lost-but-recently-rediscovered painting is now maintained at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. The work is an artistic interpretation of the moment when Edgardo is removed from his parents' home. It includes a nun, a Jesuit and a Franciscan (none of whom were actually present when the police removed Edgardo from his family). Image online via Sotheby's.


Marianna and Momolo Mortara were not told that an illiterate, Catholic servant girl (who worked for the Mortara family) had "baptized" Edgardo five years before, when the child was sick.


  • No one told Edgardo's parents that the servant girl had "baptized" the infant when the parents were not in the room.
  • No one told the Mortaras how the specific requirements of "the law" had been met.
  • No one told the parents, but someone told the Inquisitor.

Allegedly in exchange for a dowry (money), the Inquisitor (Father Feletti) convinced the servant girl (Anna Morisi) to acknowledge the "facts" to him. Once she admitted baptizing Edgardo, Anna Morisi betrayed the family for whom she had worked.

The Inquisitor's "investigation" was concluded. An order would be issued to the police. The police would "legally" take the child from his parents and his home.

The shocked parents were told they were losing their son forever.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

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"A LEGAL KIDNAPPING" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2001. Jan 19, 2020.
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