An Italian priest has offered dramatic testimony about the religious conversion of hardened Mafia killers, in an interview with the Italian daily Il Giornale.

Father Marcello Cozzi says that he has seen “the face of Cain” in the convicts that he has visited in prison. But he says that in some cases the life in prison has caused killers to examine their lives, repent, and undergo intense religious conversion.

One such case, Father Cozzi reports, is that of Gaspare Spatuzza, a Mafia chieftain who was linked to nearly 50 killings. “I’m sure” that Spatuzza’s conversion is genuine, the priest says. He reports that when the convict’s prison cell now looks like a monastery cell, lined with prayer books and theological works. “For years he has lived an ascetic life,” Father Cozzi says, adding that during one visit Spatuzza asked him to join in praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

For repentant killers, religious conversion does not produce “happy endings,” Father Cozzi says. He says that the reformed Mafia hit men are tormented by memories and nightmares.

The happy ending comes when the repentant sinner gets to Heaven.
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