ROME, Italy (Reuters) -- First it was Napoleon. Now it is Jesus Christ.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has compared himself to both, prompting the open scorn of his political opponents and even the quietly raised eyebrows of his coalition partners.

"I am the Jesus Christ of politics," Italian media quoted him as saying at a dinner with supporters on Saturday night. "I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."

Giuseppe Giulietti, a leftist parliamentarian, joked that he was sure that "God the Father and the rest of Jesus' family did not take this very well."

Marco Rizzo, a communist parliamentarian, called it a "grotesque comparison."

Pierferdinando Casini, a sometimes uneasy Berlusconi ally and outgoing speaker of parliament, distanced himself.

"I live on Earth. I don't want to mix foolish things with serious things," the Ansa news agency quoted him as saying when asked about Berlusconi's Christ comments.

On Friday, Berlusconi compared himself to Napoleon, saying only the French emperor had done more for his country.

Berlusconi will be competing against center-left opposition leader Romano Prodi in the April 9-10 general elections.

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