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Italian Priest Finds Bleach in Chalice in Suspected Mafia Hit


Posted on: March 1, 2024, 02:21h. 

Last updated on: March 1, 2024, 02:21h.

An Italian priest got the shock of his life as he was about to sip from a chalice of wine while saying Mass in Cessaniti, a small town in Calabria, southern Italy, on Saturday. Father Felice Palamara suddenly realized the Communion cup had been laced with bleach. Now, authorities are investigating an attempted Mafia hit on the cleric.

‘Ndrangheta, Felice Palamara, Cessaniti, bleach, chalice
Father Felice Palamara, above, dodged a bullet when he smelled bleach in the Communion cup. The priest has been a vocal critic of the local ‘Ndrangheta and may have narrowly escaped an attempted Mafia hit. (Image: Crux)

Palamara had just consecrated the wine and was seconds away from sipping from the chalice in celebration of the Eucharist when he caught a whiff of sodium hypochlorite, also known as liquid bleach.

The Mass was halted, and laboratory tests later confirmed the priest’s suspicions about the poisoned chalice, sparking a police investigation.

It’s not clear how the bleach got into the decanter that holds the Communion wine, although anti-Mafia police are presumably grilling the altar boys.

Pulpit Mafia Critic

Palamara has been a vocal critic of the ‘Ndrangheta, the local Mafia outfit in Calabria that in recent years has risen to become Italy’s most powerful criminal organization and one of the richest in the world.

The ‘Ndrangheta has been known to launder the proceeds of crime through the Italian online betting market in which it has been shown to hold shadowy interests.

As well as gambling, the syndicate is believed to run 70 percent of the cocaine in Europe and to control much of the illegal arms trade around the world, selling weapons to both sides in the Syrian civil war.

Last September, anti-Mafia police struck a huge blow to the ‘Ndrangheta, making more than 80 arrests in an operation to root out the syndicate’s influence in local governments in Calabria.

This was part of a wider offensive against the group that saw the conviction in November of 207 defendants with ‘Ndrangheta links, including a former Italian senator, an ex-police chief, a former mayor, and two former regional councilors.

Dead Cat on Car

In Cessaniti, several public officials, including the mayor, resigned after investigators criticized “the influence of the local ‘Ndrangheta on the Town Hall.”

From the pulpit, Palamara preached about the importance of rooting out local government corruption and respecting the law. This led to death threats, and his car has been vandalized twice in recent months.

A priest in the nearby parish of San Basilio Magno, Father Francesco Pontoriero, has also preached against the ‘Ndrangheta. He recently found a dead cat on the hood of his car.

Palamara, who now has a police escort, refuses to be intimidated.

“My revenge is called love, my shield forgiveness, my armor mercy … I will not dwell on obstacles, nor will I be frightened by the darkness,” he wrote in a social media post this week.



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