On May 23, 1992, an important Italian anti-mafia judge, Giovanni Falcone, was driving down a motorway in Sicily with his wife and police escort. A little before 6 p.m. a bomb exploded on the route, near the city of Capaci, killing the judge, his wife and three members of the escort. The Capaci bombing was perpetrated by the Sicilian mafia in retaliation for Falcone’s fight against organized crime and has become one of the most notorious mafia attacks in modern Italian history.
Today, in the location of the bombing and just below the rebuilt motorway, is a garden filled with olive trees and dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives that day over 30 years ago.
During the general audience at the Vatican on April 5, 2023, representatives of the Italian national police force gave Pope Francis a bottle of oil made from those trees, in light of the Chrism mass to be celebrated on Holy Thursday. During this Mass the oils used for Baptism, Confirmation and other sacraments are consecrated.
The olives from this garden were already distributed to Sicilian bishops in 2022, in order to become the holy oils to administer the sacraments. This year the Italian police force amplified the initiative, distributing the oil from the garden to all the police headquarters across the country so that they could be given to the local bishops.
As Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis received the bottle on the sidelines of the general audience on St. Peter’s Square from the chief police commissioner of the city, Carmine Belfiore. He was accompanied by the chaplain of the Rome police and a representative of the national police force.
A garden dedicated to the victims of the mafia
The Garden of Memory “Quarto Savona 15” was inaugurated in 2017. It is named after the radio code name for Judge Falcone’s police escort. The idea for the space came from the widow of the police officer who headed the escort, Antonio Montinaro, and who died in the bombing. All the olive trees in the garden are dedicated to memories of the victims of the mafia.