A CHURCHGOER stood up during mass and ripped out his eyeballs, before collapsing in a pool of blood.
Members of the congregation screamed in horror as UK-born Aldo Bianchini, 46, blinded himself as a priest gave Sunday mass.
Witnesses say his mother tried to help him as the priest Fr Lorenzo Tanganelli called for help but it was impossible to save his sight.
Mr Bianchini is believed to have been suffering from a mental illness and had told doctors in Viareggio, Italy, he heard voices telling him to rip out his eyes.
Dr Gino Barbacci said: “To do that requires superhuman strength.
“He was in a great deal of agony and he was covered in blood.
“He said that he had used his bare hands to gouge out his eye balls after hearing voices telling him to do so.
“We tried to operate and save his sight by reinserting the eye balls in both sockets but there was nothing we could do and he will now remain blind.”
Fr Tanganelli added: “I had just started to read the sermon when all of a sudden there was a great commotion.
“This man at the back of the nave started tearing at his face and I realised he was gouging out his eyes.
“I called for assistance and the paramedics were quickly at the scene and he was taken away and then I carried on celebrating Mass but a lot of people had left because they were so shocked by what they had seen.”
In the Gospel of St Matthew Jesus says: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”