The Madonna statue was being carried through the streets of Oppido Mamertina, a town in the Calabria region, when the procession reportedly stopped outside the home of Giuseppe Mazzagatti.
The 82-year-old has been holed up inside since 2003, when the convicted killer was transferred from prison to complete his life sentence at home. The criminal career of the mafia boss reportedly dates back to the 1970s, while Mazzagatti was also described by Il Quotidiano della Calabria as being one of the main protagonists of a mafia blood feud during the 1990s.
After worshipers stopped outside Mazzagatti’s house Andrea Marino, the town’s police chief, left the procession, the newspaper said.
Following the incident the mayor of Oppido Mamertina, Domenico Giannetta, said he would call for a meeting with the public prosecutor of the region’s capital, Reggio Calabria, to share “our point of view”.
“We don’t have any reverence for a boss. If the facts and motivations of this ‘stop’ are those reconstructed up until now, we are the first to condemn it and distance ourselves from it. We are an administration that wants to pursue legality,” Giannetta was quoted in Il Quotidiano della Calabria as saying.
The news was also met with criticism from Nunzio Galantino, the bishop of Cassano allo Ionio in Calabria, where a three-year-old was recently killed by the mafia.
“The Madonna does not bow to gangsters. Whoever made the Madonna bow made a gesture that the mother of God has never done,” he was quoted in the newspaper as saying.
Oppido Mamertina is in the heartland of one of the three principle mafia groups in Italy, the ‘Ndrangheta, and has suffered outbreaks of violence as a result.
Last year it was revealed that a mobster was killed by the Mazzagatti clan by being fed alive to pigs, in revenge for the murder of another mafia boss.
One of the town’s youngest victims was nine years old when she was shot, alongside her grandmother, by the mafia in 1998.