The Italian Almanac


Italian News - October 19

First there were the demonstrations against the secret Gladio military network. Then came battles to stop building in the Nebrodi woodlands, sit-ins and protests against Mafia control of the water supply, for jobs and rights denied, all the while waving the red flag of the old Communist party (PCI), then the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) and the Democrats of the Left (DS). Finally, she became the first woman mayor of Castel di Lucio, a mountain village halfway between Palermo and Messina. Then all of a sudden, to the astonishment of her fellow politicians, widow Maria Viglianti, a grandmother and mother of four equally surprised children, announced she had taken vows as a nun in an enclosed order.

Sister Giovanna Francesca, as people are now calling the former mayor, made the move from her mountain municipality to the Visitazione convent in Palermo three years ago, but only now has she made the perpetual profession of her vows before the cardinal of Palermo. The solemn rite was observed with friends and relatives who went to the convent near the Palermo ring road, with the new nun’s four children, for a celebration that respected the enclosed order’s distances and rules.

“We continue to see her through the bars. Luckily, they no longer have the gratings there used to be”, explains Tiziana, the daughter who arrived from London, where she has been working for years and communicating with her mother exclusively by phone or letter. The same is true for Costanza, the daughter who works as a secretary at the middle school in Tusa. Felice and Salvatore keep in touch the same way. But all are proud of their “beloved and adored” mother, whom they unanimously declare to be “an exceptional person who has done something exceptional”.