‘Con il volere di Dio’: Bernardo Provenzano and religious symbolic ritual

R Merlino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


This article adopts an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the symbolic religious language utilised by mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano in his social interactions with the lower echelons of the Sicilian mafia. When Provenzano assumed control of Cosa Nostra in the 1990s, he inherited an organisation severely diminished by a decade of internal conflicts, violence and the arrest of numerous leaders. The article argues that religious performative behaviour and language were used by the mafia boss to establish his leadership over Cosa Nostra, reshape its internal structure, and thereby revitalise an organisation in apparent terminal decline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-381
JournalModern Italy
Issue number3
Early online date19 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Bernardo Provenzano
  • mafia
  • social interaction
  • social drama
  • symbols
  • ritual
  • performance
  • pizzini (messages)
  • religion
  • Cosa Nostra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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