Luigi Spadoni and Rosario Valastro awarded the Silver Palm

On the evening of Tuesday 19, the award-winning volunteers for the third edition of the ‘Palma d’argento – Iustus ut palma florebit’ prize were announced in Acireale

The award-winning volunteers for 2023 were announced and made public during an event at the Casa del Volontariato in Via Aranci. The afternoon was opened by a Eucharistic celebration at the Church of Jesus and Mary in Via Dafnica attended by volunteers from the Third Sector Organisations of the Diocese of Acireale. A procession then followed, culminating at the Cathedral Basilica with the offering of wax to the Patron Saint of Acireale.

The award

The award is presented every year to two important personalities who have distinguished themselves for charitable activities and is organised in collaboration with the Diocese of Acireale, the Centro di Servizio per il Volontariato Etneo, the Reale Deputazione della Cappella di Santa Venera and the City of Acireale.

The award is an opportunity to celebrate the example of Saint Venera who assisted the sick as a ‘volunteer among volunteers’ and to highlight some good examples in our present time. The choice of a palm tree is linked to Christian symbolism: it is in fact the symbol of the righteous, of those who dedicate their time and commitment to others.

The protagonists

The awardees for 2023 are Luigi Spadoni, brother emeritus of the Confraternity of Misericordia, a leading exponent of Italian Catholic volunteerism and a missionary of Misericordia thanks to “Spazio Spadoni“, which carries out mission projects with women’s religious congregations on the five continents, and Rosario Valastro, a volunteer for 30 years and now President of the Italian Red Cross.

The award to Luigi Spadoni comes in recognition of his extraordinary commitment in the world of volunteering at the service of the community. For the concrete gestures with which, through the works of Spazio Spadoni, he bears witness to the values that animate the actions of volunteers, and for the significant imprint that these gestures have left on the lives of many people.

Luigi Spadoni’s example is meant to be an example for the younger generations and a testimony of his deep passion for service to those most in need.

spadoniI am very excited and truly grateful to receive this award. I am so because I carry with me the people, so many, who at this moment receive it through my hands. Because I truly feel I am only the instrument of passage from you to all the women and men who for over 2 years have been animating works of mercy with Spazio Spadoni in so many parts of the world. This award is a boost and a breath of fresh air to continue growing but, if you will allow me, it is above all a gesture that brings Spazio Spadoni a new injection of responsibility. The thought then that I carry with this award is the desire to have the right humility accompanied by the right tenacity to continue this journey. And let me emphasise, receiving it in this land, Sicily, for me and us multiplies the emotion, the gratitude, the joy. Because it is a land where Spazio Spadoni has the great fortune of feeling at home“.

Rosario Valastro was chosen for his commitment to voluntary work at the head of one of the most important organisations in the Third Sector, always on the front line in emergencies and always committed to building a fairer and more supportive world.

One of the two prizes, as provided for by the organisation, is reserved for a citizen of Acireale, in the hope that it will be an example and an inspiration to all citizens to work together to build a better future.

ValastroFor me, receiving this award today is an honour,’ Valastro declares, ‘because it means rewarding the entire volunteer work of the Italian Red Cross. And it also means feeling a sense of pride for what are my deepest roots. The bond with my land, Sicily. I am and remain a Sicilian, which means being devoted to the culture of the deepest respect for the beauty of our land. This is a feeling that I also carry in my being President of the Italian Red Cross, where the tradition of history merges with the actuality of humanitarian commitment and with the future of feeling part of a national community founded on aid and humanitarian principles. The Red Cross is all this. It is tradition and history, and it has its sights set on a future made up of love for our emblem“.

When and where

The award ceremony is scheduled for the evening of 24 July in Acireale’s Piazza del Duomo. The archbishop of Acireale H.E. Monsignor Antonino Raspanti will personally hand over the ‘silver palm’, designed and made on a lava stone base by Palermo silversmith Benedetto Gelardi.


Spazio Spadoni

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