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Gospel according to the Cosa Nostra January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle.

Italian police have asked the Vatican for help to decipher a cryptic biblical message published in Latin by the new godfather of the mafia.

Matteo Messina Denaro, a ruthless killer noted for his designer clothes and playboy lifestyle, is widely regarded as the new boss of Cosa Nostra after the arrest last April of Bernardo Provenzano, 73, who had been on the run for more than 40 years. Messina Denaro, who has also been on the run for half his life, represents the new generation of computer-literate mafia bosses, running organised crime as an efficient multinational operation.

However, he is better known for his love of PlayStations, Porsches and glamorous women than for his learning. Each year, Messina Denaro places in a local newspaper a memorial notice to his father, Francesco, who died in 1998. And police noticed that this time it took the form of an amended Latin passage from the Old Testament.

The first part is a familiar passage, loosely based on Chapter III of Ecclesiastes. But detectives reading Il Giornale di Sicilia spotted that the second part of the notice, after the Latin word sed (but), does not appear in the Old Testament text. The sentence means: “Only he who wants to will fly, and your flight has forever been sublime.”

Antonio Ingroia, the anti-mafia prosecutor in Trapani, Sicily, said it was not known where Messina Denaro had learned Latin, or why he used it to convey a message. “It might seem far-fetched that a ruthless murderer should be apparently well-versed in sacred texts,” Mr Ingroia said. “But anyone who thinks today’s mafiosi are illiterate shepherds who sit in their huts making ricotta cheese is profoundly mistaken.”

Mafia bosses, many of whom profess to be good Catholics, have often used the Bible to construct coded notes, known as pizzini, that are used to communicate with members. Police are re-examining Messina Denaro’s previous memorial notices for hidden clues. He is wanted for at least 50 murders, the first of which was committed when he was 18.

He was given a life sentence in absentia in 2002 for his role in the murders in Sicily in 1992 of the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

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