From a man to a ‘man of honour’: The role of religion in the initiation ritual of the Sicilian mafia

R Merlino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This article adopts an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the religious symbolism in the initiation ritual of the Sicilian mafia. Since the beginning of Cosa Nostra in the nineteenth century, the ritual of affiliation has been the official point of entrance of new members into the secret organisation. Through the analysis of the confessions of mafia defectors it is possible to explore what impact the ritual has on their identity and on that of the organisation as a whole. The article argues that religious symbols and language have been used by mafia leaders during the ceremony of initiation to add sacred value to the event, affect the initiates at an emotional level, and eventually establish their authority over new affiliates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Volume9
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • ritual of initiation
  • mafia
  • ritual
  • social interaction
  • performance
  • symbols
  • religion
  • Cosa Nostra

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