Rosaria Schifani: “Messina Money doesn’t exist for me”

(by Elvira Terranova) – “Can I be honest? That Messina Denaro there has no effect on me. Neither hot nor cold. Really. It doesn’t tell me anything. For me it doesn’t exist, I don’t even calculate it…”. The voice of Rosaria Schifani, widow of Vito Schifani, one of the three men of Giovanni Falcone’s escort who died in the Capaci massacre, is firm. resolute. Without uncertainties. She is on the train to go to Pescara, where tomorrow she will remember the massacre 31 years ago. And she on her phone with Adnkronos retraces the moments after that May 23 that with a few months old baby she snatched her young husband, Vito Schifani. One of Giovanni Falcone’s guardian angels. Rosaria Schifani was just 22 years old. Who doesn’t remember those words spoken from the pulpit of the San Domenico church during her funeral? “I forgive you but you have to get down on your knees,” she said. Not following what was written on the sheet that the parish priest, Don Cesare, had handed her, after the ‘supervision’ of the bishop.

Surprisingly, she changed the words written on that sheet: “Now, addressing the men of the mafia, because they are in here, but certainly not Christians: know that there is the possibility of forgiveness for you too. I forgive you, however you have to get on your knees, however…” he said – If you have the courage to change… to change. But they don’t want to change, they, they don’t change, they don’t change… If you have the courage to radically change your projects, your mortal projects what do you have…” Today, 31 years after that day, Rosaria Schifani, who has lived in Liguria for almost 30 years, where she remarried, says: “If I see that girl there again I think I would have embraced her and I would have said: ‘Brava, you said what you thought”. When they gave me the note at the funeral home with the prayer to read, I said to myself: ‘But I can’t read it’, but it was the only way to get on the pulpit and say what I thought So I didn’t say anything. I don’t even know where I got that strength from. The Lord gave me that opportunity.”

And he adds: “Poor thing, Don Cesare. I think I put him in trouble that day…”. Then she says: “Each of us has a strength to demonstrate, but it takes the right moment. And that was it. Other women would have done it too. My Vito was the love of my life, and it was unfair to have killed him. Against the cowards you have to scream, you don’t have to keep quiet. I’ve always been a bit rebellious, against life’s adversities”. And she remembers when the former police chief gave her an envelope with money, as well as the other relatives of the victims. But she didn’t want them. “I didn’t want to be bold with Parisi, at that moment it seemed like a bad thing to take that envelope. Others took it.”.

‘It took me years to put all the pieces back in place’

Rosaria Schifani doesn’t really want to talk about the trials, which lasted 31 years. “It’s better not to go into it – she says – at the moment it’s better to stay out of it. I’m just saying one thing: But is it normal that the trials have been going on for 31 years? Obviously there’s something wrong … Fiammetta Borsellino is right”. In these days her book, entitled “The Mafia mustn’t stop you”, published by the Rizzoli publishing house, is in the bookstores, where Rosaria Schifani tells about her life. From his childhood in Vergine Maria, a poor neighborhood of Palermo up to the massacre, to the decision to leave his city and move to Liguria, with a 3-year-old boy, little Emanuele, who is now captain of the Guardia di Finanza.

But why write the book 31 years after the massacre? “I had that manuscript in a drawer, I had sent it to a small publishing house at the time but nothing came of it. I think that everything has its time. I like to tell myself, I have had particular vicissitudes, even health. And I wanted to put pieces of my illness, I decided to share it to help other women who have followed my path”. And again: “I wanted to remember my Palermo, my Vergine Maria district. I remember my experience in the 80s, from my childhood to the 90s”. “It was very difficult – he admits – it took me years to put all the pieces back in place, it wasn’t easy”. A somewhat difficult childhood and adolescence, with an old-fashioned father. “I attended the masters because my father had forced me to, but now I’ve made peace with the past, with my father, with some people”. “Perhaps it took time …”, he still tells Adnkronos.

“We must forgive ourselves and those close to us”. And to forgive ourselves? “That takes time…”, she says. “I tried to be kinder to myself, I also did psychotherapy – explains Rosaria – you know, the loss of a loved one, like my father, made me so sad. And in the book I retraced many painful passages, but which they served to grow”.

‘You don’t overcome that pain, but you continue to live’

Rosaria Schifani became a widow, as mentioned, at just 22 years old. How do you overcome a pain as strong as that of the killing of her husband? With a few months old baby? “You can’t go over it,” she replies dryly. “But we continue to live, you take and swallow many bitter pills. At first there are many friends, then slowly people return to their homes, then you have to fight alone. You are a widow with a child, you are left with only family and some friends, everything is going to diminish. Maybe it’s also right like this…”, he still tells Adnkronos.

“My son and I grew up together, he gave me energy to be able to go on. Perhaps I would have liked to change the context of growth, so much so that in 1995 I decided to leave. It was a great blessing, but not because I didn’t like it Palermo, but to make him live in a healthier context”. “My son and I shared the pain, I remarried and found a boy who was his father but inside he has a pain that will never go away …”.