Leaders of the European Union, as well as representatives of the largest institutions in Italy, said goodbye this Friday (01.14.2022) in Rome with a solemn state funeral to the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, who died last Tuesday at 65 years.
Sassoli’s coffin wrapped in the flag of the European Union entered the Basilica of Santa Maria de los Angeles and the Martyrs in Rome, where the funeral rites of great personalities in Italy are celebrated, with a guard of honor. This is, not in vain, the first EU representative to die while in office.
The funeral was attended, among others, by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez. The ceremony was broadcast live on RAI public television, under the title “Ciao David”, in a very moving tribute to the fact that Sassoli, before entering politics more than 10 years ago, was the presenter of one of his star newscasts.
Dedicated to “protecting the weak”
In a church packed with personalities, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, a personal friend, summed up Sassoli’s legacy: “Protect the weak and not let walls go up,” the prelate stressed. On Thursday, thousands of people, from ordinary citizens to ministers and political opponents, lined up to enter the funeral chapel installed in the room of the Protomoteca of the Capitol in Rome.
His fellow MEPs will remember him next Monday at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg in the presence of the presidents of the European institutions, the former Italian prime minister and secretary general of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta and the French head of state, Emmanuel Macron.
At the end of today’s ceremony, both his former RAI colleagues and his team at the EP President spoke: they were all “proud” of him and recalled how he opened Parliament to women seeking asylum and those who were hungry offering a hot meal, among other things. His daughter Giulia read her father’s last Christmas message: “Inequality is no longer tolerable or acceptable, the duty of the European institutions is to protect the weakest.”
David Sassoli, during his Sakharov Prize award speech at the European Parliament on December 15.