Mysteries of the Faith (2023) s01e04 Episode Script

The Saint Next Door

Good morning.
A magistrate was killed in Sicily,
Rosario Livatino, 38 years old.
The ambush took place this morning
shortly before 9:00 a.m.
One moment
The Mafia is back again
killing a magistrate in Agrigento.
The killers chased him
off the road, shooting.
He was struck by a hailstorm of bullets.
Rosario Livatino was an esteemed
and devoted magistrate
of impeccable behavior.
My cousin, Rosario, had two faiths,
one in Christ and one in the law.
He dedicated himself entirely
to fighting organized crime, the Mafia.
Rosario gave his life for justice
and for the God he believed in.
In a cathedral in Sicily,
close to where Judge Rosario Livatino
was murdered,
an extraordinary ceremony is taking place.
In the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Peace be with you.
One of the Vatican's
most senior cardinals, Marcello Semeraro,
is blessing Rosario Livatino
as a martyr of God.
Judge Livatino died
forgiving his killers
like Jesus.
The will to eliminate this magistrate
was motivated by the fact that
being a practicing Christian,
he was not corruptible.
Cardinal Semeraro then reveals
something completely unexpected.
He declares the shirt Livatino wore
on the day he was killed
to be the Catholic Church's
latest Holy Relic.
Whilst old relics
connect the faithful to the past,
this shirt has been chosen
to inspire new faith.
Here it is,
the family chapel.
Here's Rosario, his parents,
Aunt Rosalia, Uncle Vincenzo,
and then above, the grandparents.
That morning, I had gone to university.
On my way back from the university,
I was still in the car,
a lady stopped me, a neighbor.
"They killed your cousin."
What did I feel when
when I heard the news, what? A void.
A dull emptiness.
An absence that stays with you.
Those are scars.
He and I became closer
when my grandmother died.
We were both movie fans.
We were both passionate about literature.
He was like a brother to me,
he was always the one looking out for me.
Rosario traveled down this road
every single day at the same time.
He was like a Swiss watch in this respect.
His work was important,
it was fundamental,
but he found himself in things
bigger than himself.
He didn't want security because
he didn't want there to be other deaths.
He did not want orphans or widows.
Rosario was fully aware
that his work could make him a target.
Which did make him a target.
On a quiet September morning in 1990,
Judge Rosario Livatino leaves the home
he shares with his parents
and drives to work.
Suddenly, he finds his car
is being blocked in
from the front and side.
Bleeding from his shoulder,
Judge Livatino stops the car and runs.
He stumbles, falls to the ground,
and cries out, "What have I done to you?"
The mafioso replied
by shooting the judge twice in the mouth
to silence him forever.
The shooting
probably started here.
This is the shrine dedicated to Rosario,
in memory of Rosario.
And here is where I come to pray.
Pray for us, Rosario. Intercede for us
because we need God's help
in this very difficult land
for this life that gives us so much pain.
This shrine
commemorates Judge Livatino's death,
but his holy relic is destined
to fulfill a more profound
and enduring role for the church.
Modern relics are a really good way
to demonstrate the importance
of the Catholic Church
as a living, breathing, evolving
constant part of the lives
of so many communities.
For me, it is a huge responsibility
to be the custodian of a relic.
Rosario's shirt was kept for a long time,
almost 30 years by Caltanissetta's Court.
To spare the parents the pain
of seeing the blood on the shirt,
it was never given to them.
It's a classic, elegant shirt
from the 1980s/'90s.
The brown is from the blood
that sprung from his body
when he was shot.
For me, the connection is personal.
Rosario Livatino
has become part of my life.
I come from the same town
as some of Rosario Livatino's killers.
When he was murdered,
I was only nine years old,
but those were the years
of the Mafia feuds,
so we all grew up in a climate of fear.
He was returning home
after a dinner with friends
when he was attacked by gunmen.
The ambush
was carried out in Valderice,
a town a few kilometers from Trapani
where the magistrate owns a holiday home.
In the 1980s,
the Mafia murdered
dozens of innocent people in Sicily.
The magistrate was found
riddled with bullets in his Golf.
The deputy prosecutor
was shot at least 20 times.
Undisturbed, the killers fled.
The Mafia controlled
almost every aspect of Sicilian life
and lawmakers were a particular target.
There were
killings everywhere at the time,
in the squares, by the beach,
to send people a strong message
and spread fear throughout the population.
But Rosario was fighting for humankind,
trying to eliminate
what isn't good for men.
Rosario Livatino is a testimony
that holiness is within reach.
Actually, like Pope Francis would say
these are "the saints next door."
Rosario died like Jesus did
for the salvation of mankind.
The Mafia killed
one of its fiercest opponents
on that September day,
but the murder was a turning point
in the history of the church.
Three years after his death,
close to where Livatino was shot,
Pope John Paul II held a mass
on national television.
He became the first pope
to publicly denounce the Mafia.
People of Sicily.
In the name of this Christ
crucified and risen,
of this Christ who is life,
I'll say to those responsible, convert.
One day, God's judgment will come!
Pope John Paul called Livatino
a martyr for justice.
It was a large part of the modern
project of the Vatican,
which emphasizes very strongly
that everyone can be a martyr.
Everyone has holiness within them,
and everyone can enact holiness
and be holy even when they're living
their ordinary lives.
The Vatican's
search to identify modern holy figures
was then reinforced
by Pope Francis himself.
The Church needs
everyday saints.
They're all the living blood
of the Church.
They are the witnesses
who carry the Church forward.
This call for everyday saints
is in turn creating
more modern-day relics.
There's actually
a whole department in the Vatican
that's called
the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints,
which is devoted to figuring out
who's going to be a saint
and what is going to be a relic
or what constitutes a relic.
The task
of the Dicastery of the Causes of Saints
is to declare new relics
in the name of the Holy Father.
Relics lead us back
to stories of holiness.
Stories of men and women
who let themselves be held by God.
We need relics because without memories
we would not have hope.
Belief in the power of relics
is as old as faith itself,
but in recent times,
the Vatican has used
the power of the media
to help amplify
the global reach of its relics.
It's 9:43.
There's the Pope's helicopter.
The crowd are going crazy.
A relic believed
to be the actual image
of Christ's face
at the moment of resurrection
became headline news in 2006.
The world's press was captivated
by one man's visit
to a small town in Italy.
When the helicopter arrived,
I went out of the house
and it went right over, above my house.
It was very emotional.
Here is Joseph Ratzinger,
Pope Benedict XVI,
he's passing right in front us
just meters away,
making his way to see the Holy Face
He arrived, he got off the helicopter.
He did this tour. It was extraordinary.
The meaning of my visit
is to show that I, along with you,
am trying to get to know
the face of the Lord.
We had the opportunity
to see him through the giant screens,
we saw everything.
So, we had the chance to see this Pope
kneel before the Holy Face.
Not only do we have the Holy Face,
we also have the Pope now.
If the Pope has come,
who is the representative
of Christ on earth,
it means that the Holy Face is important.
It is something great.
It's a matter of pride for us
to have it here in Manoppello.
It sent a clear message
to the world
that the true face of Christ
was in Manoppello.
Worldwide interest
on this relic grew a lot
about it being a miraculous image,
that it was the face of Christ
at the moment of resurrection.
You want
the pope coming to visit your object
just like you want the president
to come and visit your town
or to come and endorse you.
This lent the veil some credence.
Pope Benedict brought this
mysterious veil to the world's attention
but left Manoppello
without ever declaring it to be a miracle
or the actual face of Christ.
Its authenticity is highly contested.
Many people are convinced it's a fake.
Clearly, all this is a story.
It must be understood exactly as a legend.
Roberto Falcinelli
is one of the only art historians
to be allowed access to study the veil.
My involvement in researching
the Holy Face started in 1989.
I have been dealing for many years,
since 1978, I believe,
with the Shroud, this Veil,
and the Veil of Manoppello intrigued me.
You see this transparent image,
the appearance changes
slightly with the light.
The fabric's characteristics
can be beguiling.
I started taking some photos,
infrared photos, ultraviolet photos,
micro and macro photography.
Looking at the photos I realized
that there is pigment on the veil,
there is color.
And so this was a confirmation for me.
We are talking about a painting.
A painting?
No, I can't hear it.
Imagine what happened
when the word "painting" was said
in front of us, Manoppellesi.
Well, that was not appreciated.
It's like a minefield.
The studies I did on Manoppello
created issues for me
as I found myself going against
a number of faithful believers.
So much so that
when I then arrived at the shrine,
I found them all waiting for me.
Let's just say it was all
a bit embarrassing.
A Christian should say,
"Well, we are all brothers,
we must all love each other."
But the word "painting" is not
something that should even be considered.
We know that is the true face of Christ,
otherwise the Pope would not
have come to Manoppello.
The pope may have
graced Manoppello with his presence,
but the Vatican chooses not to dwell
on the issue of authenticity.
It never responded to Falcinelli's claim.
Let's say that
the attention to authenticity with relics
is considered a serious matter,
but it is not considered an absolute.
The object itself
is not the most important thing,
but the reality that it represents.
Whatever the Vatican says,
debates still rage about what the veil is
and what it's made from.
One woman is convinced
it's a precious fabric
that dates back to the time of Christ.
The Jesus
of Manoppello, I have to say, it's byssus.
Byssus is the silk of the sea.
A gift from the ocean. A gift from God.
Byssus is a very rare,
special material.
It's also known as sea silk.
It derives from a marine mollusk,
bivalve mollusk, like a big mussel,
and this particular
kind of mollusk is large
and it has hairy, long strands.
These are harvested
and then they're woven
into a very precious cloth.
Chiara Vigo is the world's
leading expert on byssus.
My family has been
working with byssus for 28 generations.
I was handed a spindle when I was five
and I am now 68.
Chiara was so intrigued by the veil,
she had to see it for herself.
When I looked
at the Veil of Manoppello,
I didn't have to think about it much.
It's made of a very thin fabric
that may have been part
of a very high-status outfit.
Jews that lived
in the Middle East during antiquity
at the time of the Romans
used to make fabric out of byssus.
It was used for spiritual rituals.
The clothing, it is a very special fabric.
Byssus would be a very expensive fabric,
and so it would only be accessible
to very wealthy people.
And the gospels say
that Joseph of Arimathea,
who is stated to be a very wealthy man,
wrapped Jesus' body in fine linens.
They could be referring to sea silk
as the finest possible fabric.
The enigma
of what the veil is made from
continues to draw people to it.
But advances in science and technology
in the last 50 years
have increased the opportunity
to search for answers.
One case in particular,
linked to another burial cloth,
made headlines around the world.
The Shroud of Turin.
For centuries, millions have worshipped it
as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
The Shroud appears
to show a blood-stained image of Christ.
And for centuries,
it has been treated as a holy relic.
The Turin Shroud
has this sort of relationship
with the Veil of Manoppello,
they're similar objects.
And it held people's imagination
because this cloth will have been in touch
with the dead body of Jesus
as he goes through the resurrection.
In 1988, developments
in carbon dating technology
led to an outcry
for the Shroud to be tested,
and Pope John Paul II took a bold step.
Pope John Paul II
has approved further tests
to learn more about
the mysterious Shroud of Turin.
Scientists from three countries
performed radiocarbon dating tests
on three small swatches of the cloth.
They concluded that
the flax from which the linen was created
was harvested somewhere between
1260 and 1390,
and therefore was definitely
a medieval creation
and did not date to the time of Jesus.
Scientists now think it's fake.
It couldn't be the burial cloth of Christ.
What about the actual scientists
who say that it's not true?
Does it affect you? Is it important?
Um I just go on my faith,
and that's all that a person can do
is just have faith that it is.
It's the true Shroud.
It's the burial cloth of Christ.
And that's it.
It can't be anything but true.
The Vatican's reaction
to the conclusions of the testing
were to largely ignore them.
Because the testing of the Shroud of Turin
was great for its reputation.
It probably made it more famous
than it had ever previously been.
All publicity is good publicity.
If people are talking
about your veils and your grails,
then they are talking about you,
and they love that.
Pope John Paul
continued to venerate the Shroud,
sending a clear message
that it remained
as important as ever to the Vatican.
Pope Benedict visited in 2010.
The Shroud is an icon written in blood.
And Pope Francis
came three years later.
I, too, place
myself with you before the Holy Shroud.
It is as if it were releasing
a powerful energy.
Since tested,
every time the Shroud
has been on public display,
millions have come to see it.
It comes to a point when
the object itself is just so charismatic
and has such an aura
and such a magnetic pull,
the people would just go
just to experience
what all the fuss is about.
In Manoppello,
the controversy surrounding its own veil
seemed to have little effect
on what the faithful believe.
I believe in miracles.
For me, that's the face
of the Risen Christ.
Almost every day,
I go in front of the Holy Face.
I feel immersed in peace,
serenity and tranquility.
The kind that a good father should give.
So when I look at his face,
I'm in safe hands.
In 2004, I was at a campsite,
I was on holiday.
And while I was sleeping
I saw the Holy Face
which was coming towards me.
It was moving back and forth,
just like a heart that beats.
Then I got so scared,
and I woke with a jolt in a sea of sweat.
I asked the Lord,
"What are you trying to tell me?"
"Will anything good happen to me?"
Two days later
I had a cardiac arrest.
My heart stopped for five minutes.
I was defibrillated,
and my heart started to beat again.
The doctors couldn't explain
what happened.
I'm certain the Holy Face intervened.
I think that the Lord guided the doctors
who resuscitated me.
Many people even today will feel
they have experienced
miraculous events around relics.
Relics attain a spiritual energy,
which gives them the power
to perform some kind of miracle.
Think when it comes
to miracles and relics,
there's no smoke without fire.
How you explain the miracles,
that's up to science, it's up to debate,
but I think the fact that it happens
around these objects and these relics
is probably undeniably
I mean, it's just been
too much of human history
that they've been talked about
and that this association has been made.
Tales of miracles
linked to relics
have long been passed down
from one generation to the next.
In the digital age,
these kinds of stories
spread around the world in seconds.
A valley woman declared completely blind
says she can now see
after coming in contact
with some religious relics.
She says a miracle occurred.
God does exist.
You just have to have faith.
We like to share
things that matter to us.
That can be an exponential viral effect.
I think with Manoppello,
people have seen something
that they find incredible.
And they think this is amazing,
and they want to go and tell
everyone that they meet.
Many pilgrims arrive at this holy place.
They come convinced
that they are meeting Christ.
They come really from all over the world.
The main goal of our initiative
must be to make
the Holy Face of Manoppello
even more well-known.
I've seen the whole world
arriving in Manoppello.
We are talking of the Philippines,
of the New Zealand,
of the Kirzmenistan.
I feel very proud of the fact
that it is better known in the world.
It means that, thanks to the Holy Face,
the name of "Manoppello"
is becoming more famous.
The thing that sometimes surprises me
is people who don't know
the Veil of Manoppello,
who do not live a life of faith,
find themselves in front of the image
and really encounter the face.
Its look touches them,
and they feel changed in a way.
You will see people cry
and people fall to their knees,
because this is a real confronting
of the perceived reality
of everything they have believed
for their entire lives.
Our Father who art in Heaven,
hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth
as it is in Heaven.
Every time I hold the relic in my hands,
it sends a shiver down my spine.
A thousand thoughts go through my mind
about how, despite all the difficulties
that we encounter in life,
holiness is within reach.
On one hand,
relics can be considered old and obscure,
but a bloodied shirt
with two bullet holes
speaks to a teen,
without the need for words.
By bringing this relic to the people,
we hope to change
the mentality of this land,
to change people's hearts
and bring hope.
Don Gero
takes Livatino's shirt on pilgrimages,
using it as a PR tool.
And it's gaining global attention
on YouTube.
We have been everywhere around Italy.
I spend the whole time thinking about
how I can treat Rosario's shirt
as a missionary tool
to bring a message
that speaks to everyone forever.
The Vatican,
arguably the world's original influencer,
is now exploiting
all forms of social media
to ensure its message reaches
a new generation of believers.
The most famous relic of all,
Christ's Crown of Thorns,
will itself soon be unveiled
for a new generation.
In 2019, the fire that ripped
through Notre-Dame
meant that the crown
was almost lost forever.
Shock at the news spread across the world,
leading people to donate
nearly a billion dollars
to help rebuild its home.
Now, in a rare glimpse
behind its closed doors,
the cathedral is coming back to life.
I hope we will be
at Notre Dame Cathedral once again.
And in the framework
of this renewed cathedral,
we will be a home in which this Crown
of Thorns can takes its rightful place.
Because I know that the faithful
will flock and rediscover it.
People today have this crisis of faith.
But at the same time,
I think that this crisis
opens up an extremely important place
to the search for meaning.
Relics are invitations
for us to come closer to Christ.
We walk towards the Crown of Thorns
as if we were walking towards Christ,
as if we were walking towards the Cross.
Holy relics
can help connect people to God.
When you're in front of the Crown,
you feel like God is watching us.
They spread the word.
These are difficult times,
but the relic brings
a moment of real hope.
And invite us
to belong to something
bigger than ourselves.
It changes you, it changes your life.
Deep inside,
I believe the Holy Face saved me.
Relics still matter to people.
They matter because people want
to have faith, they want to believe.
They want to believe
that if they are in contact with something
that is considered to be holy
by the church,
that they too will be able
to get the redemption
or the healing that they are looking for.
Faith is about engaging with
everything that we
can't know about reality.
So, relics are perfect
for engaging with faith
because by their nature,
they're mysterious.
And they engage with the aspects of life
that we can't understand fully.
My cousin, Rosario,
was the closest thing
I ever had to a big brother.
When I look at the relic,
it is as if he and I were together again,
were meeting again.
His shirt reminds me
that death is not the end
but a door we walk through
to reach the house of God.
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