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Catholic World News News Feature

Beatification for heroic Italian policeman? February 15, 2005

An Italian police official, who was shot by Nazi troops in September 1943 as he protected the lives of his countrymen, is now a candidate for beatification.

As a young police officer, Salvatore D'Acquisto was assigned to Torrimpietra, Italy, not far from Rome. On September 21, 1943, an incident occurred in which a German soldier was killed and two others wounded. Although the deaths seem to have been caused by an accidental explosion, Nazi officials labeled it an attack by the resistance, and the next day they rounded up 22 local residents, selected at random, to be shot in reprisal. D'Acquisto, arriving on the scene of the proposed executions, assumed responsibility for the German deaths, and was executed by a Nazi firing squad.

Father Paolo Molinari, the Jesuit postulator for the cause of D'Acquisto's beatification, says that the young man's sacrifice was "a genuine expression of true Christian love."

Those who knew Salvatore D'Acquisto say that his last act was a fitting climax to a life that was lived in quiet but deep devotion to the faith. His commander said that his sacrifice was the fruit of "a long preparation, through an apprenticeship to the Gospel, devotion to his family, and formation in the force."

The cause of D'Acquisto's beatification was opened in 1983, at the prompting of the Italian military diocese. After the completion of a preliminary study, the cause was transmitted in 1991 to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. "I hope that the Congregation will beatify him quickly," says Father Molinari.

At a February 14 symposium in Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini voiced the same opinion. "The Italian Church would like to see him soon raised the the glory of the altars, to stimulate and encourage all the young people, the police and the military," the cardinal said. "His sacrifice earned him the title of a martyr for charity."

In September 1973, Pope Paul VI spoke of D'Acquisto as "a magnificent example of humble courage in defense of others." Ten years later Pope John Paul II called him "a shining example of self-abnegation and sacrifice." Today a statue of the young police officer, which was blessed by John Paul II, stands in the town of Fiumicino, near Torrimpietra, on a street that bears his name.

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