All it takes is one look at their faces to really under stand the meaning of the Pope’s words: “Where there is no work there is no dignity!”
At the Due Palazzi prison on the outskirts of the
Italian city of Padua these words could not be truer.
Every year, the
prison’s inmates crank out more than 60,000 panettoni, Italian
sweet bread loaves traditionally eaten at Christmas.
The inmates use
award-winning recipes to make these sweet treats.
though, their work helps them regain confidence day by day because
someone has bet on them and on their ability to start over.
At the Due Palazzi prison outside Padua there
are three inmates to each cell that is meant for one person. Behind the
prison walls is a fine pastry making lab, as well as some building
where bicycles are assembles and luggage components manufactured and a
At Christmas time the bicycle assembly line is used to
prepare the packaging for the panettoni which are shipped not
just al lover Italy but to other parts of the world such as France, the
UK, Germany, Spain, China, Taiwan and The Antilles.
an early start for the inmates that work in the pastry lab,” says
Nicola Boscoletto, the president of the Giotto social co-operative.
6.30 am it’s time to prepare, bake and package the panettoni. For those
doing time, being able to work means having a new way to pass the time.
But it also gives inmates the chance to learn a new profession… and
return to a normal life. We always strive to give people dignity… A man
is not his mistakes.”
Benedict XVI was the first Pope to place an order
in for 250 Christmas treats produced by Giotto’s prisoner workforce.
Given that it’s Vatican spending review time, it was thought that the
Pope would not be placing an order this year.
But Francis decided to
continue the tradition and will be offering a number of home
made Christmas sweets, prepared by the prisoners.
for the prisoners is no secret: every eleven days, on a Sunday, he calls
up a group of them who are being held in an Argentinean establishment.
“When I telephone the prisoners I ask myself: “Why not me? … Why did he
fall and I didn’t? Because we have the same weaknesses and for me it is a
mystery that makes me pray and brings me closer to the,” Francis told
the prison chaplains.
“We are so grateful to Francis for
continuing this tradition. It means so much to our inmates. The
cooperative employs 120 prisoners, 15 of them externally. Apart from
the pastry lab there is also a catering service that employs another 25
prisoners,” Mr. Boscoletto stated.
“Unfortunately, of Italy’s 67,000 inmates, only
700-800 have a proper job. If each inmate costs the State €250 a day,
that’s €100,000 a year, one can see how important prison jobs are and
how important it is to invest economic resources in this,” Mr.
Other specialities prepared by Giotto’s patissiers
include home made biscuits, breadsticks, focaccia bread, Italian Easter
cakes, sweets inspired by St. Anthony and other traditional treats.