Sunday, June 06, 2010


I admire people who reach out to those whom society discards.  This is an article of mine which was published in Italy Magazine on Friday and it is about one such person:

Don Mario Picchi

Rome said goodbye to a great friend of the lost and abandoned on Tuesday. Don Mario Picchi, who died last Saturday at the age of 80, was a priest who, from the late 1960s, devoted his life to fighting drug addiction and those affected by it.

Born in Pavia in 1930, Don Mario became a priest in 1957. Ten years later he was called to Rome to assist in the Vatican’s charity projects. In 1968 he began to organise groups of volunteers to help drug addicts and went on to create the CeIS [Centro Italiano di Solidarietà] and his famous “Progetto Uomo” [“Project Man”] a series of educational and therapeutic programmes for drug addicts and their families.

His philosophy and programmes became models for other projects not only in Italy but around the world because the programmes were flexible enough to be adapted to other cultural, economic and social situations. In 1985 CeIS was recognised as a Non-Governmental Organisation by the UN Economic and Social Council.

Don Mario was also a writer and among his publications are: “Intervista sulla droga e sull’uomo “ [“Interview on Drugs and Man”] [1984], “Dietro la droga un uomo” [“Behind the Drug is a Man”] [1991] and “A Braccia Aperte” [“With Open Arms”] [2002]. “Progetto Uomo” has been translated into many languages. Of those he helped he wrote,

“We are a group of poor souls on the streets of the world. One day the members of this group will leave me and take their independent paths. I hope that faith in the ability of man, any man, will go with them.”
Don Mario received many awards and decorations and was created a Grande Ufficiale al Merito della Repubblica Italiana. Speaking at his funeral, Cardinal Agostino Vallani said,

“He welcomed all. His door was always open”.

As a last gift to Don Mario, the city of Rome is to donate land on which members of his community will be able to create and tend a market garden.



What a lovely story. There are not many people like him these days.

Laura said...

Inspirational life - thank you.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Well done to the City of Rome, for honouring this wonderful man with a lasting tribute.. How great that for the people of his community :-)

Liz Hinds said...

He sounds like a great man and I love the idea of ground given in his memory.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, people like this are rare, GCC. Hi, Laura. I agree. Hi, Anne and Liz. Yes, I think it's a very appropriate tribute.


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