A Surrealist Painter Stabs St. Paul VI

Pictured: The blood-stained undershirt of St. Paul VI.

On November 27th, 1970, at the Manila International Airport in the Philippines, the pope was stabbed by Bolivian surrealist painter Benjamín Mendoza y Amor Flores, who was dressed as a priest. He later claimed “I will save mankind from superstition.”

Paul VI was struck in the chest and twice in the neck with a short dagger inscribed with the words “bullets, superstitions, flags, kingdoms, garbage, armies and sh*t.” The strikes to the neck were ineffective because the pope wore a rigid collar to relieve his cervical spondylosis. Inexplicably, he was also wearing two undershirts that particular day, and the chest wound was light. He continued with the papal visit and the wounds were not disclosed until after his death. The undershirt is now a relic.

Mendoza served 38 months for the attack, and following his release continued to have art exhibits around the world. He said he did it for the attention and because the pope represented religion, which is superstition. Mendoza was disappointed that he didn’t succeed in killing the future saint. Asked if he would try it again he replied, in halting English, “It’s gonna be a pleasure.”


Mendoza after the attack