Italian judge killed by Sicilian mafia to be beatified as martyr

Pope Francis likens 1990 killing of ‘boy judge’ Rosario Livatino to a hate crime against Catholic faith

An Italian judge who was killed by gunmen in the Sicilian mafia in 1990 will be beatified as a martyr, the Vatican has announced.

In a decree of martyrdom published on Tuesday, Pope Francis wrote that Rosario Livatino had been murdered for his faith, and likened his killing to a hate crime against the Catholic faith.

Known as the “boy judge” because he looked younger than his 37 years, Livatino had led many investigations into the mob at a time when Sicilian clans were involved in a full-blown war.

The bosses of la Stidda (the star), a mafia criminal group operating in the central-southern part of Sicily, ordered Livatino’s death because he would not bow down to the mobsters and continued to investigate their affairs.

As numerous witnesses testified during a later trial, Livatino was also mocked by the mafia, who considered him a “bigoted” because he was a regular churchgoer and a fervent believer.

On 21 September 1990, as Livatino drove his Ford Fiesta along the Agrigento highway, he was rammed by another car and forced to stop. Livatino tried to escape on foot across the fields but the four killers caught up with him and shot him dead.

During the investigation, the prosecutors noted that, in all his diaries, Livatino wrote a mysterious abbreviation: “s.t.d.”, which they later understood to be the Latin acronym for sub tutela dei (in the hands of God).

After his death, John Paul II described Livatino as “a martyr of justice and faith”.

Pope Francis, who strongly supported the case for beatification, has called Livatino “an example, not only for the magistrates but for all those who work in the field of law – for the consistency between his faith, his commitment to work and for the relevance of his reflections”.

The decree of martyrdom proposed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints and approved by the pope means there is no need for a miracle to be attributed to Livatino’s intercession with God for him to be beatified.

Livatino’s beatification ceremony could take place in spring in Agrigento.


Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

The GuardianTramp

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