A mentally ill man gouged out both his eyes during a church service at the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio claiming "a voice" in his head had told him to commit the gruesome act
The 46-year-old man, who had attended mass with his mother on Sunday, was rushed to hospital where surgeons attempted to reattach both of his eyeballs.
Police had recovered the man's eyeballs from the Sant'Andrea church aisle as horrified worshippers looked on.
The man, who remained conscious throughout, is almost certain to remain blind, according to ophthalmologists.
"It was shocking and happened totally unexpectedly. Just as I was starting my sermon, the man stood up and gouged out both his eyes," said parish priest Antonio Tanganelli.