A poisoned chalice in Cessaniti

A poisoned chalice in Cessaniti

: FELICE PALAMARA: Failed attempt to poison outspoken priest Photo credit: Alberto Tarsitani

A parish priest escaped poisoning after noticing that the flasks of wine and water used for communion smelt different from usual.

Fr Felice Palamara, who was saying Mass in Cessaniti (population 3,595) in southern Italy, immediately halted the service and notified the police.

They later found that bleach had been added to both flasks and are now examining CCTV footage to identify the person responsible for tampering with them.

As Fr Palamara has both respiratory and heart problems, swallowing the bleach would have been especially dangerous for him.

In an area where the ’Ndrangheta network still holds sway, the priest has condemned its influence on the town and investigators suspect the poisoning was retaliation for speaking out against the mafia.

Talking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Fr Palamara said he was convinced the intimidation attempt was not the work of Cessaniti parishioners.

“I have been here for 10 years and always had good relations with the people of Cessaniti,” he explained.

“We won’t allow anyone to do harm to the parish. Nobody can stop a town that deserves redemption and that wants to grow.”

Cessaniti’s town council was dissolved in August 2023 owing to fears that it had been infiltrated by ’Ndrangheta elements, a step that has to be taken frequently in southern Italy where the network remains powerful.

Nor was this the first incident, as Fr Palamara has received threatening letters and his car was deliberately scratched some weeks before the failed poisoning.

“I feel calm but hope that the forces of justice can get to the bottom of these criminal acts,” he told the Corriere della Sera interviewer.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.