An Italian judge who was killed by the mafia in Sicily in 1990 was beatified on Sunday, May 9, and cited for his efforts to promote redemption through justice.
“In his service to the community as an upstanding judge, who never allowed himself to become corrupt, [Rosario Livatino] strived to judge not to condemn but to rehabilitate,” said Pope Francis.
Livatino was gunned down by a mafia hit squad, which shot at his car as he was driving along a Sicilian highway.
Despite the risks, he had refused an armed escort. He tried to flee his attackers, but was caught and killed in a field.
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.
He was beatified at a service in Agrigento cathedral in Sicily, where a glass box containing his bloodstained shirt was put on display as a relic.
Speaking to pilgrims in the Vatican City, Pope Francis praised the young magistrate.
“May his example be for everyone, especially for judges, an incentive to be loyal defenders of lawfulness and freedom,” said the pope.
Three years after his death, Pope John Paul visited Sicily and hailed Livatino as a “martyr of justice.”
Pope Francis put him on the road to possible sainthood in December, approving a decree of martyrdom which meant there was no need for a miracle to be attributed to him.
A miracle would have to be attributed to Livatino in order for him to be declared a saint.
Speaking after the Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis said the Sicilian magistrate was “a martyr of justice and faith.”
On the same day of Livatino’s beatification, the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development announced it has set up a “working group” dedicated to “excommunications of mafia members.”
A press release noted that Livatino is the first judge to be beatified in the history of the Church, saying he “courageously carried out his profession as a form of lay mission.”
The working group will seek to study the theme of excommunication of mafia members, work with bishops around the world, and promote various initiatives in this field.