European leaders grieve for David Sassoli at state funeral in Rome

ROME — Politicians, heads of state and European leaders gathered in Rome on Friday for the funeral of European Parliament President David Sassoli, who died on Tuesday.

Flanked by sword-bearing, caped Carabinieri, Sassoli’s pallbearers carried a coffin draped in an EU flag into the Michelangelo-designed Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and of the Martyrs.

Mourners, socially distanced and carrying masks, crammed the church, nestled inside the traditional ruins of the Diocletian Baths — a location historically used for state and navy funerals.

During the proceedings, mates, household and colleagues paid tribute to the journalist-turned-politician, who unexpectedly rose to turn out to be head of the European Parliament in 2019 after 10 years as a European lawmaker. They shared reminiscences and praised Sassoli for his braveness, recalling how he tried to make the European Parliament a spot for these in want, handing out meals to the homeless and offering an area for ladies in troublesome conditions.

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, a college buddy who additionally led the service, mentioned that for Sassoli, politics “was, and had to be, for the common good.” Sassoli, he mentioned, needed “a Europe that was united and based on its founding values.”

In Italy, Sassoli is remembered fondly as a long-time information anchor on state tv’s TG1 channel. Zuppi described him as “a journalist of quality, that serene face that accompanied so many TV news broadcasts projecting respect and credibility.”

In addition to ministers and social gathering leaders, these attending included Sassoli’s fellow EU presidents, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Spanish chief Pedro Sánchez have been additionally there, as have been senior figures from Italy’s Democratic Party, which Sassoli represented within the European Parliament.

Fellow information anchor Elisa Anzaldo mentioned Sassoli’s nightly greeting, “buona sera” (good night), beamed into residing rooms throughout Italy “as if he didn’t want to disturb people while they were having dinner.”

Sassoli’s later success in Brussels stunned colleagues, who thought he was too good for the cynical world of politics.

“The dictionary of virtues, you had them all,” Anzaldo mentioned. “We thought you wouldn’t go far in politics. What a joke you played on us.” 

Although a well-known face in Italy, Sassoli “blushed at compliments,” his son Giulio recalled.

“You taught us that fame and popularity only have meaning if you do good things with them,” he mentioned.

Sassoli’s spouse, Alessandra Vittorini, who met her future husband once they attended college collectively, mirrored on the extraordinary outpouring of sorrow, seen within the 4,000 individuals who paid homage to the deceased European chief on Thursday at Rome’s City Hall.

Vittorini mentioned her household had at all times shared Sassoli together with his work. But the truth that that they had shared him “had produced the extraordinary recognition of the past few days, with lines of people, flowers, cards.”

Vittorini recounted that in his last weeks, Sassoli advised his spouse he had had an awesome life, “if sometimes complicated.”

But, she recalled him including: “To go at 65 was too early.”

“It was truly too early,” she mentioned. “There are so many things we still have to tell you, projects to design and a future to imagine together.”

Vittorini mentioned she is aware of reworking “the emptiness of loss into passion, values and love will be very hard, but you taught me that nothing is impossible.”

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