Alfredo Ormando was born in San Cataldo (Caltanissetta, Sicily) on 15 December 1958. His parents were illiterate farm-workers with eight children living in very modest economic conditions.
Following his father’s death, he lived a turbulent childhood and adolescence and never attended school regularly. He was still a minor, when he was sent to a re-education centre; he ended the first cycle of intermediate school aged 20 and its diploma in 1993 when he was 35.
He lives in precarious conditions and is unemployed ending up in the street.
He spent two years in a Catholic Seminar, victim of a mystic crisis: this experience changed deeply its concept of the world.
Meanwhile he keeps being keen on writing which soon becomes the main objective of his life: convey via his works emotions and contradictions of everything is around him.
The publishing houses refuse to publish all his novels (an autobiographical Trilogy in three volumes Il Dubbio, L’Escluso and Sotto il cielo d’Urano), fairytales and short tales.
In 1995 making a great economical sacrifice and with the help of his eighty-year-old mother’s old age pension, Ormando publishes at his expense the short novel Il Fratacchione and in 1997 five short tales in a magazine he created with the title “I Miserabili”.
In October 1997 after not passing for the second time the written test of the Latin exam – the last exam before getting a degree in Literature - may have been one of the main reasons for sinking again in a state of depression: He had been victim of depression many times, but he would have never overcome this one.
Alfredo Ormando feels unsuccessful both as a man and as a writer.
In December 1997 he wrote this letter to a friend of his in Reggio Emilia:
Palermo, Christmas 1997
Dear Adriano, this year I can’t feel it’s Christmas anymore, it is indifferent to me like everything; nothing can bring me back to life.
I keep on getting ready for my suicide day by day; I feel this is my fate, I’ve always been aware but never accepted, but this tragic fate is there, it’s waiting for me with a patience of Job which looks incredible.
I haven’t been able to escape this idea of death, I feel I can’t avoid it, nor can I pretend to live and plan I future I do not have; my future will just be a prosecution of this present.
I live with the awareness of who’s leaving this life and this doesn’t look dreadful to me! No! I can’t wait for the day I will bring this life of mine to an end; they will think I am mad because I have chosen Saint Peter Square to be the place where I’ll set myself on fire, while I could do it here in Palermo as well.
I hope they’ll understand the message I want to convey; it is a form of protest against the Church which demonises homosexuality, demonising nature at the same time, because homosexuality is its daughter.
Excerpts from his correspondence:
“I want to die, I don’t want to be marginalized forever.”
“I am sorry if I was born, for having polluted the air you breathe with my poisonous breath, for having dared thinking and behaving like a man, for not having accepted a diversity I did not feel, for having considered homosexuality a natural sexuality, for having felt just like heterosexuals and second to none, for having the ambition of becoming a writer, for having dreamt, for having laughed.”
“The monster leaves the place in order not to offend you, not to make you feel ashamed any longer of his disgraceful presence, not to make you feel disgusted and turn your back when you meet him while walking on a street.”
“I couldn’t deceive my biological love for life anymore, I couldn’t find a reason for my marginalization, for my endless loneliness.”
“Do not try to build me a tearful tombstone, shall I be an infected after my death as well. If fuel won’t produce its effect, turn me into ashes, cremate me and disperse my ashes in the Roman countryside: at least I would like to be useful as manure.”
“Imagine, with one simple act I will get rid of all of you... during these 39 years I have never meant anything to you, instead you are ashamed of myself... I am not scared of dieing ... I am going back home.”
At the beginning of January Ormando feel he has come to the last step of his painful via crucis.
On that cold 13 January 1998 Ormando has just become 39 years old. His mother had talked to him the previous night. Alfredo had called her to inform her he would have gone to Rome for his studies. Gaetano Mangano, his landlord in Palermo, had seen hi two days before and Alfredo had borrowed from him a hundred thousand lira.
A woman who is cleaning the toilets in Saint Peter’s square sees Ormando pouring fuel on his clothes and running ablaze to the centre of the square.
The police immediately tries to help him and a policeman tries to extinguish the flames using his jacket. Before fainting Alfredo mumbles “I haven’t even been able to die.”
He is brought to St. Eugenio Hospital where he died after ten days of atrocious death throes.
The letters he had on himself are not published and the Vatican’s press gives out a press release in which it is declared that Alfredo Ormando committed suicide, not because of his homosexuality or of his protest against the Catholic Church, but because he has serious family problems.
But, immediately after his death, ANSA pres agency received his letters and published part of them.