Revenge Seen Behind Missionary´s Murder in Brazil

Italian Priest, 61, Founded Hospital and School

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RIO DE JANEIRO, FEB. 28, 2001 ( A priest shot at the dinner table by hooded gunman “was a hero” who died because of a politician´s revenge, said a friend.

Father Nazareno Lanciotti died Feb. 21 in São Paulo´s Syrian-Lebanese hospital after being shot while dining with guests in his residence.

Father Lanciotti, 61, was a native of Subiaco, Italy. He had been living in Brazil since 1973, working in the remote town of Jauru, in the state of Mato Grosso, where he founded the hospital of Our Lady of Pilar, and the Zemechi school for poor children.

“On the afternoon of Feb. 11, two hooded men burst into Nazareno´s residence, when he was dining with some friends and collaborators,” a friend of the victim, Father Jose da Silva, told the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

“They aimed a revolver at his head and began playing Russian roulette,” said the priest of the nearby Diocese of Livramento de Nossa Senhora. “While one of the two hooded men ordered the guests to keep their heads on the table, the other began to pull the trigger. At the third attempt, the bullet perforated the back of his neck.”

One of the guests, Giancarlo della Chiesa, a businessman from a nearby city, witnessed the scene. Della Chiesa told Avvenire: “One of the two hooded men asked the priest to open an old strongbox, thinking that it would be full of money. In fact, the strongbox had been locked for 20 years, and Father Nazareno had lost the combination.”

For his part, Father Jose da Silva insisted that “the motive was not the robbery as one has been led to believe, but vengeance over the victory of Catholic candidate Divino Marciano, to the mayoralty of the city.”

Jauru is almost on the border with Bolivia, a land of drug traffickers, large landowners, and Masons.

“Father Nazareno had never suggested to the faithful how they should vote,” Father da Silva stressed. However, someone attributed to him “the responsibility for the defeat of mayor Jose Gonsalve Filho, connected with Masonry and known as Zinho, who was running for re-election.”

Zinho would have allowed the opening of brothels and was, according to many, the point of reference for shady local powers connected with Masonry.

According to Father da Silva, while in the hospital Father Nazareno told another priest that those who ordered the murder were probably the same “powerful” men interested in the promises made by the Masonic mayor.

“Father Nazareno was a hero, and the people adored him,” Father da Silva. “If the residents of Jauru find the murderers, I think they run the risk of being lynched.”

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