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Italy: Mafia thanks God for new boss

A crime family's use of a sacred shrine to sanctify its new don provokes outcry.

"My priests are 'in the trenches," he said, because changing the centuries-old traditions and rites that mobsters use to assert their power — such as processions stopping in front of the homes of local kingpins as a sign of reverence — was something deeply resented by the population. “We are now trying to 'purify' these rites, but it isn't easy.”

For a start, the rector of the sanctuary, Nino Strangio, told GlobalPost that every pilgrim who now visits Polsi receives a copy of the bishop's letter. This will happen also on Sept. 1, the Marian holiday when 'Ndrangheta summits are traditionally held.

"We heard about these things but until now it was just hearsay. I thank the police for putting the spotlight on these meetings," he said. "Now, we must be courageous and rebel against this phenomenon that defaces the beauty and holiness of this place."