Giusi Nicolini, the woman mayor of Lampedusa and Linnosa, was awarded the 2015 Peace Prize sponsored by the civil movement Die Anstifter of Stuttgart and awarded this year for the 13th time. Costantino Baratta, one of the rescuers at dawn on 3 October 2013 when 366 people, mostly Eritreans, lost their lives, received the prize on behalf of the Mayor who had other commitments on the Island. “We must never cease fighting”, said Baratta, reading Nicolini’s words, “to explain that migration is not the cause of the crisis in the West. If anything it was our policies of theft and exploitation which aggravated the conditions of poverty and destitution that caused people to flee from Africa”. The prize includes a sum of money, 5,000 Euros, which the mayor has decided to donate to the social services of Lampedusa and Linosa. And the Island of Lampedusa, now the symbol of a humanity that continues to offer hospitality, was celebrated by Pope Francis on the very day of the prize during his broadcast from Assisi where, at the foot of the Christmas tree, a seven-metre boat had been set up: the one on which in March 2014 the nine Tunisians who landed at Lampedusa had travelled. A crib had been set up in this vessel to remind everyone that, were it to arrive today, the Sacred Family would probably arrive by sea. And Mary, perhaps, might not give birth in a stable but amidst the waves. Just as, in fact, many have done to this day.
St. Peter’s Square
Aug. 22, 2019
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