· Vatican City ·

Encountering God behind the bars of a maxium security prison

The friar, the boss and the found-again son

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20 August 2021
I can still hear that slow and decisive walk in my memories. I was sitting in a corner of the sacristy of the maximum security prison for cooperating witnesses, and I was waiting for the priest to celebrate Mass, then being a deacon. Those steps echoed throughout the chapel enveloped in a silence of reverence. It was Mr Pasquale (imaginary name), a cooperating witness, formerly a prominent representative of the Calabrese ’ndrangheta, which was very active throughout the national territory. He was the boss! Every Sunday, as if it were an obligatory ritual, he was present at Holy Mass, seated in the first pew as “befitted his rank”, from which, with an austere and severe manner, he observed every gesture. I was only 33, performing the service of deacon chaplain at the wishes of the archbishop at the time. I was a young and naïve friar, ...

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