Mt. Carmel St. Cristina Society

The Roots of the Mafia

Did you know...

What is this organization called "The Mafia"? There are several theories about the beginning of the Mafia in Italy. The word "Mafia" was not used in Italy before the 19th century.

One theory is that the usage began in the 13th century when the French occupied and ruled Sicily. The French were despised by the Sicilian people and on Easter Sunday in 1282 the people rebelled. All the French on the island were killed or fled. The Sicilian leadership group in the rebellion called itself "Morte Alla Francio Italia Anela." The acronym was MAFIA.

Another acronym in 1860 during the Italian reunification, Guiseppe Mazzini was credited with the motto "Mazzini autoriza furti, incendi, avelenamenti" (Mazzini authorizes theft, arson, poisoning) - MAFIA.

In Naples was a group called Camorra, in Calabria was a society known as the Ndrangheta, or brotherhood, but the Sicilian term Mafia became generic for these criminal bands and Americans knew nothing of the Neapolitan Camorra or the Calabris Ndrangheta.

To Americans the Sicilian Mafia meant organized crime and all Italian-Americans were presumed to be connected. Also, the media treated Italian-Americans differently from other crime groups. Italian-Americans have to right to expect objective reporting! The Mafia is one small element of organized crime in America. It does have roots primarily from South Italy. However, objective review of the history clearly shows that the stereotype has been greatly exaggerated!