Date of publication: 23/10/2020

Castelli Prize: Prison Writers, the thirteenth edition

World News

ROME – The award ceremony of the “Carlo Castelli for solidarity” competition took place on Friday 16 October 2020, for the first time online. The literary prize, now in its thirteenth edition, reserved for inmates in Italian prisons, is promoted by the Italian Federation of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. As every year, the competition enjoys the patronage of the two branches of the Italian Parliament, the Senate of the Republic and the Chamber of Deputies, the Ministry of Justice and the European University of Rome. The event was also awarded the special recognition of the medal of the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella. 

This edition was characterized by the presence of two excellent Media Partners: the Pontifical Dicastery for Communication, which brings together Vatican Radio, Vatican Media and the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and the broadcasters of the Italian Episcopal Confederation: TV2000 and Radio InBlu. The event was broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube.

The ceremony opened with the welcome of the General President of the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul, Renato Lima de Oliveira, in connection from Brasilia: “The closeness, the comfort, the encounter: these are three pillars of the life of many sisters and brothers of the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul. But there is a place where these three actions are more necessary than ever: prison “. “The Carlo Castelli Prize – he continued – brings the solidarity of the volunteers inside the prison, but which also brings the solidarity of many inmates outside the walls, thanks to the aid projects that this award allows”.

As every year, also for this edition the jury awarded a “double prize” to the first three classified: a part of the prize was given to the author while another sum was allocated to a work of solidarity. Thus, even those who have “made a mistake” in life and live the experience of imprisonment will have the opportunity to do a good deed. “We believe that this – says Antonio Gianfico, President of the italian Federation of the Society of San Vincenzo De Paoli – is a stimulus to help the inmate to reconcile himself with his own experience and with society”.

The theme of the thirteenth edition was: “The outside world seen from inside”. From the inmates’ stories emerges precisely the awareness of living in a “suspended time”, the anxiety of not knowing if, once their sentence has been served, there will still be someone outside waiting for them, if they will still find a home or a job. But another sentiment also emerged from the works: fear. All of us, who lived in the “outside world”, during the lock down, remained somehow “recluse” in our homes and experienced feelings of isolation and seclusion. How did the inmates experience the pandemic seen “from within“?

Aiming at the essence of the narrative, stimulating above all the inner thrust that the person is capable of feeling and expressing, the Castelli Award means closeness to those who have embarked on a path of change, or conversion, and also to those who are not yet still been able to set out on this path, as well as provoking a reflection in all the people who do not want to see and hear about prison.

Alessandro Ginotta

Press Office

Italian Federation

Society of Saint Vincent De Paul