Today a plaque on the highway marks the spot where Livatino was killed. It reads: “Martyr of justice.” On Dec. 21, Pope Francis elevated this title when he recognized the judge as a martyr killed “in hatred of the faith.”
His legal legacy lives on through the work of the Rosario Livatino Study Center, which is dedicated to issues of life, the family, and religious freedom.
After a controversy erupted earlier this year over the translation of Livatino’s relics from his hometown to the Cathedral of Agrigento, it was announced Feb. 19 that the martyred judge’s body would remain in the town of Canicattì, about 25 miles northeast of Agrigento.
Livatino is buried in the chapel of the Canicattì cemetery, a town of about 35,000 people and his birthplace.
Pope Francis wrote a preface to a book about Rosario Livatino published in March in which he reflected on the lessons of Rosario Livatino’s life and death.
The pope recalled that the judge was shot dead by young men paid by two Sicilian organized crime groups, the Stidda and Cosa Nostra.
He said that Livatino’s last words were: “Picciotti [young mafiosi], what did I do to you?”
Pope Francis said: “To Rosario Angelo Livatino, today also through his beatification, we give thanks for the example he leaves us, for having fought every day the good fight of faith with humility, meekness and mercy."
Livatino did everything “always and only in the name of Christ, without ever abandoning faith and justice, even in the imminent risk of death,” he said. “This is the seed that was planted, this is the fruit that will come.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.