Rosario Livatino: a model of the professional commitment of the laity in public life

The 37 year old judge killed by the mafia beatified in Agrigento

May 9, 2021, saw the beatification of Rosario Livatino, an Italian magistrate whom Pope Francis called a “martyr of justice and faith”. Blessed Rosario was born in 1952, in Canicattì, Sicily. After completing his studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Palermo and passing the Italian magistrature exam, he held various positions until he was finally promoted to the position of assistant judge of the Court of Agrigento in 1989.

Blessed Rosario’s upstanding character was particularly evident in his work for the court. Despite the pressure that local mafia and other groups of organized crime continually placed on representatives of the state, particularly by the use of death threats, Blessed Rosario fought unceasingly against corruption, winning numerous victories against these groups that resulted in the seizure of parts of their property and numerous arrests. The courageous integrity and dedication to justice that he practiced in the workplace was widely felt and lead eventually to his assassination at age 37 in 1990, by order of a number of groups of organized crime. 

Regarding the beatification of judge Livatino, Dr. Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Lay, Family and Life explains that “He was hated because he was just, because he exercised both mildness and firmness together in his profession. The young magistrate lived the Christian life not only when he passed through the doors of the Church, but also when he passed through the doors of the court: one life unified his own, which was lived according to the motto “tutela di Dio” (guardianship of God), which he liked to write on some of his personal effects. A silent martyr of our times, who always saw his work as a place to give witness to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. In Rosario Livatino we have a model who can inspire us to the professional commitment of the laity in public life”.

Blessed Rosario stands for us today as a heroic example of the way in which Christians are called to live their faith in the middle of the world. In a time in which the evils of the mafia were ignored out of fear or out of desire for personal gain, Rosario Livatino refused to succumb to indifference or selfishness. He did not hesitate to take sides in defence of the truth and protect the victims of underworld organisations, even at the cost of his own life. 

Blessed Rosario thus represents the kind of everyday holiness that Pope Francis encourages in Gaudete et Exultate, which is “found in out next door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence” (GE 7). We are all called to be saints in our families, among our friends and in the workplace “by living out lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves” (GE17). 

12 May 2021