Known as the “Boy Judge,” he was assassinated by the Mafia for upholding his Christian faith

Rosario Livatino soon to be Beatified

By Larry Peterson

Rosario Livatino was born in Sicily on October 3, 1952. He was the only child born to Vincenzo Livatino and Rosalia Corbo. Growing up, Rosario was a quiet boy, stayed out of trouble, and was an excellent student. He had a kind heart and never refused to help other students who were having difficulty with their studies. Most importantly, Rosario was devoted to his Catholic faith and loved it deeply.

After finishing high school, he attended the University of Palermo and in 1975 graduated magna cum laude. Three years later, he moved to Caltanissetta (located in central Sicily), where he began his career as a magistrate. After a few years, he became a public prosecutor in Agrigento, and in 1989 he was appointed a judge.

He helped the poor of his town as much as possible

He tried to keep his Christian life quiet and low-key. He helped the poor of his town as much as possible and always wanted to keep it secret. When he attended  Mass, he sat in the back pews trying to remain unnoticed. He kept a Crucifix on his desk and a Bible next to it. The Bible had many pages with verses underlined. Ironically, his church pastor in Agrigento only found out that he was a judge after his death.

Much of what is known about Livatino’s life comes from his diaries, which he began keeping in 1978. During that year, he wrote, “Today I took the oath, and I am a magistrate. May God assist me and help me respect this oath and to behave as demanded by the education I received by my parents.” Rosario took his work very seriously.

Rosario Livatino had to face the realities that were part of Sicily. The most intense reality was the presence of the mafia. The dreaded organization  was strongly connected to most of the local and national politics. Rosario knew he would have to stand for law and order or compromise his character to protect his own safety. As was his way, he turned to Jesus and Mary for their help.

The most intense reality was the presence of the mafia

Judge Livatino knew the identities of the mafia families and did his best to avoid granting them the smallest of favors. He also avoided contact with them as best he could. It was no easy task as he was always being invited to club meetings or even church gatherings. It was at these meetings that members of La Cosa Nostra were frequently in attendance. It was a thin wire he walked, and every day was a challenge.

When he sat on the bench, there was no “thin wire.”  He was a good man filled with God’s grace and determined to fulfill his duties. However, many of the defendants who appeared before him had mafia affiliations.  A just man could not avoid making enemies. As time went by and Judge Livatino meted out sentences prescribed by law, he became hated more and more. The local “bosses” had their form of justice. Many times it was an assassination.

In his diaries, Judge Livatino wrote that issuing judgments is one of the most challenging tasks that men are required to perform. He wrote, “The duty of the magistrate is to decide; however, to decide is also to choose. . . . that the judge who believes may find a relationship with God. It is a direct relationship because to administer justice is to realize oneself, to pray, to dedicate oneself to God.”

Rosario Livatino harbored many doubts and fears. He wanted desperately to meet a woman and get married, but it never happened. He began resigning himself to being alone, realizing it was better he had no family. Two years before his death, he received the sacrament of Confirmation. He knew he needed the strength of a Christian soldier. It was during this time that he rejected having a bodyguard.

The “Boy Judge” said goodbye to his parents and left for work—

On the last day of his young life, the man called the “Boy Judge” said goodbye to his parents and left for work in Agrigento. As he drove his car, he was rammed from behind and forced to stop. A motorcycle pulled up on the other side, and men from inside the vehicle and from the motorcycle opened fire, shooting through the windows. Rosario managed to get out and tried to run, but he fell. He rolled over on his back and watched as the assassins quickly surrounded him, pointed their guns down, and opened fire. The date was September 21, 1990.

A Martyr of Justice

Pope St. John Paul II said that Rosario Livatino was a “Martyr of Justice” and in an indirect way, of the Christian faith.”

Pope Francis has approved his decree of martyrdom and his beatification will take place during the spring of 2021.


The Miraculous Image of Our Lady with the Bowed head

Our Lady of the Bowed Head

Our Lady of the Bowed Head                             pineterest.com

By Larry Peterson

“The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God.” St. John Damascene

Pictures and statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been carved, chiseled, painted, or made in some way by many people from all over the world since the beginnings of the Catholic church. The numbers are too many to count.  One of these is a picture of the Blessed Mother that was originally found in a pile of trash. It is called Our Lady of the Bowed Head.

The story of the picture begins in Sicily in 1610. A Carmelite monk, by the name of Dominic of Jesus and Mary, was charged with inspecting an old, broken-down house to see if it might be suitable to convert into a monastery. As he walked around the grounds, he passed a pile of trash. Giving the debris a cursory look, Friar Dominic kept on walking. Suddenly he stopped. Something or someone was telling him to go back and look closer at the trash.

He heeded the prompt and returned to the garbage pile. He grabbed a broken stick and began separating the mounds of junk. When he saw the edge of a picture frame, he paused. He carefully pushed away the debris that surrounded what he now realized was a painting. Rescuing the artwork from its impending fate, he pulled it out and discovered it was an old oil painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He could not believe someone had thrown such a beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother in the garbage. Friar Dominic wrote that the first thing he did was to apologize to Mary. He said, “I am sorry, dear Mother, that someone has treated thy image in such a terrible manner. I will take it back to the monastery with me and fix it up, and I will give thee the homage which thou so rightly deserve.”

Dominic did indeed, take it back to the monastery, and restore it as best he could. He hung the picture in his cell and every day gave Mary the attention, reverence, and devotion that was due her. He prayed to Our Lady with an increased exuberance asking her for the graces to please Jesus in all things.

One day when Dominic was cleaning his cell, the sunlight happened to land on the picture. Dominic thought there was dust on the painting and went over to clean it. The humble friar felt that he had been remiss in his duties and, raising his eyes to heaven,  apologized profusely to Our Lady for having neglected her painting. He even apologized for using the old rag he had.

As he proceeded to dust the picture, Our Lady’s face began to move, and she smiled at the priest. Dominic was not sure what was happening and then Our Lady spoke to him saying, “Fear not, my son, for your request is granted! Your prayer will be answered and will be part of the reward, which you will receive for the love that you have for my Son Jesus and myself.”

She proceeded to tell him that she would grant him any favor he wanted. He asked for Her to help his friend be released from Purgatory. She told him,  Dominic, my son, I will deliver this soul from Purgatory if you will make many sacrifices and will have many Masses offered for this soul.” Then the apparition of Mary faded away.

The apparition of Our Lady vanished, and Friar Dominic remembered the words of the Holy Virgin when she promised to answer the prayers of all who would honor and pray to her before the miraculous image. He knew he had to share it with everyone and the painting was placed in the Oratory of St. Charles located next to the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale.

The painting remained in the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale until Dominic’s death in 1630. Then it was loaned to the Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian. Later it was loaned to Emperor Ferdinand II and then returned to the Carmelite Fathers after Ferdinand’s death in 1655. In 1901 a new church was built in Vienna and the image was given a place of honor there.

Today it is in the monastery Church of Vienna Dobling. September 27, 1931, it was solemnly crowned by Pope Pius XI – the 300th anniversary of its arrival in Vienna.

Fr. Dominic was declared Venerable by St. Pius X in 1907.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020