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Heart of Palermo

Promise kept

"I shall tattoo Sicily on my chest," said this man who had passed out in a Covid coma in Lombardy and woken up in Palermo. Lombardia hospitals were full so Ettore Consonni was airlifted by military plane to Palermo. He kept his promise. He had the tattoo artist draw Sicily and its three-legged symbol, the Trinacria, on his chest, with the names of his children and grandchildren. " I did it to remind me of all the doctors and nurses who took care of me, loved me and saved my life," says Ettore, 61, a retired store owner. He was flown in a coma to the Civico Hospital in Palermo. "In the ICU I heard a Sicilian accent, and I thought it was some Sicilian doctor emigre," he said. "They told me I was in Palermo, but I thought they were joking," he told Giorgio Ruta, a reporter for La Repubblica. After 23 days in intensive care, on 6 April, he started to breathe again without the ventilator. And in that moment he swore to doctors and nurses: "As soon as this is all over I will get a tattoo of your beautiful island." Said and done." In Lombary he found Sicilyagain yesterday in the tattoo shop, where the artist gave him his tattoo for free, because his mother and grandparents are from Sicily.

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New bishop celebrates Christmas with homeless

"This is the real church," Palermo's brand new archbishop Corrado Lorefice said to those gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve at Fra Biagio Conte's Mission of Hope and Charity. Biagio, a lay brother who takes care of a thousand homeless people in three inner city homes for them in Palermo, welcomed the new archbishop to his shelter. Read More 
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Eternal Embrace

Watery grave, heart's embrace

This is a freeze frame from a video taken by Italian Coast Guard rescue and recovery divers of two refugees who died embraced on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea just off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Oct. 3, 2013, after the worst tragedy in those seas since 2000. Three hundred sixty-six people drowned together that day.
In this picture, two of them face each in what was left of their embrace. The empty space between them forms a heart. They died  Read More 
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Meals on Wheels for the Homeless


Dr. Marina Scardavi founded a non-profit called Shadow Dance to aid the homeless in body and soul. She got to know Palermo's homeless people through her homeless friend, Mohammed, an Iranian immigrant who earned a degree in architecture at the University of Palermo, but who prefers to be a vagabond who cares for other street people.  Read More 
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Home for Homeless Women

A corner of the 100-seat dining room of the Accoglienza Femminile of Fra Biagio Conte's Missione Pace e Speranza
Last week I visited the Women's Home, one of three centers comprising Brother Biagio Conte's Mission of Peace and Hope. It houses roughly a hundred homeless women, palermitans and immigrants, single women, women with young children and women with infants. It is housed inside the former convent of Saint Catherine of Sienna in Via  Read More 
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