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Saint of the Day for 21 October: Blessed Joseph Puglisi

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi: Martyr of the Faith against the Mafia


Giuseppe Puglisi




September 15, 1937, Palermo


September 15, 1993, Palermo


21 October


May 25, 2013, Foro Italico Umberto I in Palermo, Pope Francis


O most humble St. Maria Bertilla, chaste flower grown amid the shadows of Calvary, who exalted the fragrance of your virtues in the presence of God alone, for the comfort of the suffering, we invoke you. Deh, obtain for us from the Lord your humility and charity by which you so pleased Him and that flame of O God, our Father, who through Thy Son and by the power of Thy Spirit hast predestined us to be ascended and immaculate before Thee in charity, hear our prayer. Thou, who hast associated Thy blessed and our brother Joseph Puglisi with the priesthood of Thy divine Son, as herald of the paschal mystery and dispenser of the gifts of salvation, deign to glorify him here on earth, through the ministry of the Church, as a witness to the love of Christ who gave His life for us. Amen. to our duties, to merit, through your intercession, the grace we need and the eternal reward in Heaven.


The Saint and Mission

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Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi, often known as Father Pino, embodied the essence of a mission that goes beyond mere liturgical practice or verbal evangelization. His life, spent on the streets of Palermo, in the alleys and squares, was a clear example of how faith can translate into action, into a daily battle for justice, education and hope.

Father Pino understood deeply that mission is not just preaching the Word, but living by it. His challenge was titanic: to directly confront the Mafia’s corrosive influence in Sicilian society, trying to offer young people alternatives to criminal life and the dangers it entailed. His mission was to educate, to open the eyes of the community to the dark realities that surrounded it, and to show that through love and dedication, even the densest shadows can be overcome.

St. Gaetano Church, where he served, became a beacon of hope for many. In an environment where the culture of “omertà” dominated, Father Pino’s voice rang out like a wake-up call, a call to moral and spiritual awakening. His mission was not just to save himself, but to save an entire community from the grip of organized crime.

But what made Father Pino’s mission so special? Was he not just one priest in a big church? The answer lies in his authenticity and courage. Where many might have given in to fear or indifference, he chose to stand by the most vulnerable, offering them not just words of comfort but concrete action. His initiatives, such as youth shelters and educational activities, were direct expressions of his evangelical mission.

His martyrdom, his assassination by the Mafia in 1993, only reinforced the message of his mission. His death underscored how important the struggle he was waging was and inspired many others to follow in his footsteps. As we recall the life of Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi, we cannot help but reflect on the depth and scope of his mission, which continues to resonate as a warning and a guide for all who seek to build a more just and loving world.

The Saint and Mercy

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi, affectionately known as Father Pino, represents a shining witness of mercy in a context often pervaded by shadows and violence. His existence, spent in the intricate streets of Palermo, has become an emblem of how love and compassion can actually effect change in people’s lives, especially in those situations where indifference and injustice seem to prevail.

Father Pino did not just talk about mercy; he lived it in every single moment of his life. In the streets of Brancaccio, a neighborhood of Palermo known for its social challenges and Mafia presence, the priest extended his hand to those who were often forgotten or neglected by society: young people at risk, families in difficulty, those who felt crushed by the weight of organized crime. His mercy was not limited to words of comfort, but translated into concrete actions, offering opportunities, hope and a future to young people who were in danger of being lost.

mercy, in Father Pino’s vision, was not simply an act of mercy, but rather a deep and radical commitment to justice. He was convinced that showing mercy meant fighting injustice, breaking the chains of oppression and giving a voice to those who had none. His opposition to the Mafia, which eventually led to his martyrdom, was not an act of defiance, but rather a manifestation of his deep compassion for the victims of organized crime and for a community that needed to break free from such chains.

However, what makes Father Pino’s mercy extraordinary is not just his determination or courage, but his ability to see beyond appearances, to recognize the dignity in every individual. Even when faced with those who might have betrayed or threatened him, he always showed deep compassion, seeking to bring conversion and redemption rather than condemnation.

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi represents a shining guide on how mercy can truly transform communities. His life and ministry remind us that, even in the most difficult situations, mercy can be a powerful force for change and healing. In remembering Father Pino, may we all find inspiration to live with greater compassion and love, putting mercy at the center of our actions and hearts.


Fr. Giuseppe Puglisi was born in Brancaccio a Palermo neighborhood on Sept. 15, 1937, to Carmelo, a shoemaker, and Giuseppa Fana, a seamstress. He entered the diocesan seminary in Palermo in 1953 and was ordained a priest by Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini in 1960. In 1961 he was appointed vicar cooperator at the parish of the Most Holy Savior in the hamlet of Settecannoli also in Palermo, and…


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