Italian Missionary Murdered In Amazon

Rome, Italy - Italian Father Ruggero Ruvoletto was murdered Saturday morning in his parish of St. Evelina on the outskirts of Manaus, in northeastern Brazil.

After the initial reconstructions, the police believe it was an attempted robbery, but the thesis is not very convincing because the Church was only missing a small amount of cash, and money was not taken from the priest's home.

Some witnesses say they saw two "unknown men" fleeing with some objects belonging to the religious.

According to MISNA missionary agency, police have arrested three individuals suspected of being involved in the murder. The identity of the three and the reason for the crime are still unknown.

Father Ruggero Ruvoletto was born March 23, 1957, in Galta di Vigonovo, near Venice. He was ordained a priest in 1982.

He was appointed director of the diocesan Missionary Center from 1995 to 2003.

He left for Brazil six years ago as a "fidei donum" missionary with Father Orazio Zecchin, in the diocese of Itaguai in Mangaratiba.

The following year he met with Francesco Biasin, then consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Pesqueira, in northeast Brazil, to take part in a missionary project on the outskirts of Manaus, at the request of the local dioceses.

A note from the Diocese of Padua states that the outskirts of Manaus is "a border area between the city and the jungle, where criminality is particularly aggressive and recently several assaults were reported. Ruggero himself took part recently in a manifestation calling for greater security."

Following news of the murder, hundreds of inhabitants of the Manaus suburb gathered around the parish to pay homage to the remains of the Italian missionary, who will be buried in his native country.

On Sunday morning, Bishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua said that the deceased "consumed himself greatly for the mission. He was a man and priest of good spirit, serene, always smiling and totally available."