Forty-five stabs in the abdomen, back, and the kidneys. The victim is Maria Luisa Fassi, 54 years of age. The woman was working at a tobacco shop owned by her husband in Volta ad Asti avenue. It is exactly here that in the morning of July 4, at around 7:30, an attempt to robbery turns into murder. After weeks of investigations, the aggressor of the woman was given a name and a face: Pasqualino Folletto. The man confessed his guilt and shame. Behind this foolish action hides the tragedy of a sick daughter, lack of money to guarantee her treatment because all of them were spent on video-poker, where he kept going compulsively, so as to alleviate frustration generated by a difficult life. The man is now in prison. The news spread from television to Internet and in the hours following the arrest, Italy had to come to terms with an uncommon and unexpected action.
Piero Fassi, the victim’s father, despite his tragic loss, has been able to listen to the suffering of another family, the family of the murderer. The inflicted pain has become fertile, hence his receptivity: “We have learned that this man has a sick daughter. Unfortunately. If she wants us to, we will do what lies within our power to make her sufferance less painful and lonely. His family, also killed by this foolish action, is not guilty of what happened”. A slap in the face of those who do not believe that there are alternatives to resentment, hatred, and revenge.
It is not the first time, however, that forgiveness arrives where blood has been seen flowing. When such things happen, the impossible becomes palpable. This is the case of Carlo Castagna whose family members died in what came to be known as the Massacre of Erba. On December 11, 2006, the spouses Olindo Romano and Pink Bazzi slit the throats of his wife Paola, daughter Raffaella, and his nephew Youssef (two years and 3 months of age). A further aggravating circumstance in this situation is the fact that the couple seems to have planned the murder at least three months earlier, committing, thus, a violent act without precedent, pondered, wanted. Also this time, one of the darkest cases in crime news assumes a different, wider meaning. The power of perpetrated evil, albeit without sense and inexplicable, is defeated by good. Carlo Castagna has forgiven the murderers of his family.
“My wife and me – tells the man in an interview with the program in His Own Image – we have always borne in mind a phrase written on the façade of a church in a village near Erba, that was referring to the cross: “If you accept me, I will sustain you; if you you refuse me, I will crush you”. Forgiveness is not the result of mushy feelings nor of my bravery: it is a gift God gives us in order to allow life to start over again.
Those are heroic people, whose greatness depends on their ability to become small. They rely on God, delivering the death of the heart to the Lord and making possible their own resurrection. This is precisely what forgiveness consists in. It means also to resurrect to innocence the person in front of you.
This is what happened also to Pietro Maso , the protagonist of one of the most sensational cases of family murder in Italy. On 17th April 1991, in Montecchia Crosara, he killed both of his parents inside his own house. Accomplices of the crime are three friends who, along with Peter, have become the most popular young men in the village. Their reputation of skilful billiards players has spread fast to the nearby villages, but most importantly, it has affected their standard of living. Posh cars, designer clothes and expensive gifts for their girlfriends, whom they changed almost on daily basis. It was this “delirium of omnipotence” to blind Peter who, in order to obtain his part of the inheritance and pay back a bank debt of 25 million liras, decided to kill his mother and father.
It is in prison that something begins to change. The visit of a priest who wanted to offer him the opportunity to experience the love of God, will be the means through which will pass Pietro’s conversion. This time are speaking the sisters: “We could have abandoned that brother. It would have been easy. To forgive, on the other hand, is a more profound and difficult thing to do; but it has also bestowed joy on us. It is easy to love when you are on good terms with someone, but it is difficult when you hear ‘‘he has killed his own parents’’. Those words are very strong for us, but we know also that we must make our own the words of Jesus who says, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’. We have done this with the help of God and this brother who ”has died”, seems to have arisen again and it his story that gives us comfort sometimes.
Translated by Ecaterina Severin