An Italian priest has written to Pope John Paul II asking him to revoke a 700-year-old order excommunicating an entire Tuscan town.
Fr Mario Pruccoli wrote to the Pope after he discovered that the 400 inhabitants of the village of Monticello Amiata were forbidden to receive the sacraments under an edict issued by Pope Urban V in 1369.
The early medieval pontiff excommunicated the village on the advice of Charles IV after the population refused to pay taxes to the emperor.
Fr Pruccoli said the excommunication continued to trouble the residents of Monticello.
"We have been excommunicated for almost seven centuries," the parish priest said, "and now it is time to turn over a new leaf. This is why I turned to the Pope."
If John Paul II responds to the request, Fr Pruccoli believes that life in the village will be transformed.
The priest said that with a European Union grant Monticello cold attract curious tourists from around the world. "Otherwise", he said, "the people will suffer from it and the village will die."
Blessed Urban V was pope from 1362 to 1370. The outstanding effort of his pontificate was the attempt to move the papacy from Avignon in France and to re-establish it in Rome.
But after less than three years in the Eternal City, he found his position threatened by the many revolts within his own Papal States. He died soon after returning to Avignon.