The highest officials of the institutions of Italy and the European Union (EU) said goodbye to the late President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, for the last time this Friday at a massive state funeral in the Italian capital Rome.
The funeral took place in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, after the city hosted the deceased’s burning chapel on Thursday, installed in the Campidoglio, the Roman town hall, and where around 4,000 people came to pay tribute.
The Republic Square where the basilica is located has been armored for the funeral, with a heavy presence of police officers and vehicles and a helicopter flying over the closed to traffic area, the newspaper ‘Il Corriere della Sera’ reported. In addition, the Italian authorities installed a large screen to broadcast the funeral live in the Baths of Diocletian.
The coffin arrived wrapped in the European flag and was received in honor by a picket – men from all army regiments. His wife Alessandra Vittorini and their children Giulio and Livia were already in church. Italian President Sergio Mattarella was accompanied by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, among others.
The European institutions were represented by the President-in-Office of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as well as the leaders of the political groups and other high-level officials of the European Parliament.
The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, has also come to bid farewell to Sassoli, whom he remembered as “a progressive friend” and a “great defender of European values”.
Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna and friend of Sassoli, emphasized in his sermon that “the end of the politician is difficult to understand”. “Your words, always calibrated, that you threw like an archer that smelled of brotherhood,” he added.
“Good road, David, your smile always reminds us to look for happiness and to build hope,” Zuppi continued before remembering a few words he had exchanged with Sassoli at Christmas when he was already sick: “We have a duty to protect the weakest, we are the hope if we don’t build walls.” Finally, he recalled a poem by the writer and theologian David Maria Turoldo, which suggests that “nothing and nobody dies and everything lives”.
As early as Monday, the European Parliament will pay tribute to Sassoli in a ceremony at the start of its plenary session in Strasbourg, France.
Sassoli, 65, had been hospitalized in Italy for two weeks for a “serious complication” with the functioning of his immune system, although the situation was only made public on Monday, the eve of his death, when the European Parliament informed the European Parliament about the deterioration in his health .
Finally, the President of the European Parliament died this Tuesday at 1:15 a.m. in the Cancer Reference Center in the town of Aviano, in the province of Pordenone (north-eastern Italy).
After hearing of his death, MEPs from all political families and leaders of the European Union expressed their dismay at the death of a politician who most have described as a staunch European and a staunch defender of the EU’s values and fundamental principles. Friend “, of whom many have emphasized his humanity and good spirit.