I was 15 years old when Giovanni Falcone was assassinated. He was killed with his security guards in the conflagration known to history as the Strage di Capaci, named for the town near to where the explosion that killed them had happened.
One of his guards was 27-year-old Vito Schifani. His widow, Rosaria Costa, a mother of 22 years, was asked by her priest to speak at the funeral to spread some Christian forgiveness.
It is one of those TV moments that remain embedded in your vivid memory. It remained in mine. I remember watching it thinking how alien Sicily was, so eerily familiar in its appearances and culture and so entirely and fundamentally different in its mechanics. The mafia felt so far.
And yet here we are.
For the non-Italian speakers there’s a loose translation beneath the transcript:
« Io, Rosaria Costa, vedova dell’agente Vito Schifani mio, a nome di tutti coloro che hanno dato la vita per lo Stato, lo Stato…, chiedo innanzitutto che venga fatta giustizia, adesso. Rivolgendomi agli uomini della mafia, perché ci sono qua dentro (e non), ma certamente non cristiani, sappiate che anche per voi c’è possibilità di perdono: io vi perdono, però vi dovete mettere in ginocchio, se avete il coraggio di cambiare… Ma loro non cambiano… […] …loro non vogliono cambiare… Vi chiediamo per la città di Palermo, Signore, che avete reso città di sangue, troppo sangue, di operare anche voi per la pace, la giustizia, la speranza e l’amore per tutti. Non c’è amore, non ce n’è amore… »
“I, Rosaria Costa, widow of the officer my Vito Schifani, on behalf of all those who have given their life to the State .. the State …, I ask first of all for justice, now. I turn to the men of the mafio, because they’re in here (or not), but are surely not Christian, you should now that there is a chance of forgiveness for you too: I forgive you, but you must kneel, if you have the courage to change … But they do not change … […] … they do not want to change… We ask you on behalf of the city of Palermo, of Lord, that you made this a city of blood, too much blood, for You to work for peace, justice, hope and love for all. There is no love, there is no love…”