Notes on ORAZIO PETROSILLO (1947-2007)

Orazio Petrosillo

After a disease of nearly 10 months, on May 11, 2007 Orazio Petrosillo passed away at the age of 60. Last summer he was hit by a ictus in Valle d’Aosta (Italy), where he was following the Pope’s vacations as a Vatican correspondent for Il Messaggero.

He was from Monopoli (Bari). He got a degree in Theology at the Pontificia Università Gregoriana and graduated in Philosophy at La Sapienza University of Rome. A practising Catholic, he was married and had two daughters. He had covered religious information since 1975. Since 1980 he had been following papal travels in Italy and since 1983 also those abroad. Before arriving at Il Messaggero, he had worked for Il Tempo and Ansa. A distinguished name in the weekly Il Nostro Tempo, he had also been writing for the Catholic newspaper Avvenire. Countless other newspapers and magazines have published his skilful articles, always to the point, incisive, well-grounded.  He has numerous scoops to his credit, which have gone around of the world.

He was always kind and affable and everybody was struck by his discretion and essentiality. He was appreciated by the colleagues for his generosity and availability, his professional competence and culture, for his extraordinary memory and his humour. Among his numerous assignments, he was also the President of the Association Aiuto alla Chiesa che soffre (Aid to the Church that suffers) and was a teacher at the CICS, Centro Interdisciplinare sulla Comunicazione Sociale della Pontificia Università Gregoriana (Interdisciplinary Center on the Social Communication of the Pontificia Università Gregoriana). He gave lectures and lessons in various universities, both in Italy and abroad.

Regular guest in television programmes dealing with religious topics, where he always gave his specific competence contribution, he had become a familiar face also for the great public above all on the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s death. On RaiUno he was also the host of the TV programmes Parola e Vita (Word and Life) e Settimo Giorno (The Seventh Day).

Among his books, we must remember Città del Vaticano (Vatican City) (Musei Vaticani 1998), Canto alla Madre di Dio (Song to the Mother of God) (San Paolo 1999), La città di Pietro (The city of Peter) (Musei Vaticani 2002), Vangelo in cronaca (Gospel in report) (San Paolo 2004) and the biographies of Giacomo Cusmano and Ludovico Necchi.

A keen lover of the Shroud for more than 30 years, he wrote two books with Emanuela Marinelli,  La Sindone, un enigma alla prova della Scienza (The Shroud, an enigma to the test of Science) (Rizzoli 1990), translated into several languages, and La Sindone, storia di un enigma (The Shroud, history of an enigma) (Rizzoli 1998). On the occasion of the 1998 Shroud Exhibition, his meditations were published, La Sindone da contemplare (The Shroud to be contemplated) (Elledici 1998). He participated in several study conferences and countless have been both his lectures on the Shroud, in every part of Italy and abroad, and his articles, written on the occasion of the main events that had  the venerated Relic as a protagonist.

His passing away leaves a gap both in the world of the journalism and the sindonology that cannot be filled. Our only comfort is the certainty that now, in the Glory of God, he contemplates that luminous Face that he has so much loved.