Italy: Felonious Friars?

Despite the tension in the courtroom, four defendants remained calm and moved their lips in what seemed to be silent prayer. The impulse was natural: the four were robed and cowled Capuchin friars, accused with three laymen of operating a spectacular extortion-murder ring in racket-ridden Sicily.

The gang began operations in 1956 in the small island town of Mazzarino, site of a 200-year-old Capuchin monastery. One of its first alleged victims was Father Agrippino, whose evening prayers were interrupted one November night by a buckshot blast into the wall beside him. A few days later, Carmelo Lo Bartolo, the monastery gardener,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!