Italy remembers Gianni Agnelli

Napolitano, Elkann, Juventus, Pope Benedict recall Italian icon

Italy remembers Gianni Agnelli

Turin, January 23 - Hundreds of people turned out Thursday for a memorial mass in Turin cathedral on the 10th anniversary of legendary Fiat chief Gianni Agnelli's death. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Fiat President John Elkann and CEO Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari President Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Juventus Chairman Andrea Agnelli, team boss Antonio Conte and captain Gigi Buffon were among those present to remember the iconic figure, a symbol of Italian industry and style, who died on January 24 2003 aged 81. The president, Fiat top brass, several ministers and other dignitaries including publishers' chief Giulio Anselmi then went on to a civil commemoration at Turin city hall. Napolitano highlighted the value Agnelli attached to his position as Senator for life and said: "he operated in the heart of society, showing a strong sense of institutions and democratic equilibria. "That was what marked him out, making him a protagonist of our public life as well as a central figure in the economic world". Napolitano said Agnelli and the managers, technicians and workers who made Fiat great had been "motor forces in a path of transformation and advancement of Italy which we must resume". Elkann described his grandfather as "a brilliant and convinced ambassador of Turin in the world who recognised the important of uniting Italy and Europe". He added that Agnelli "would have certainly appreciated Fiat's union with Chrysler, the great group we are today, present all over the world". Pope John Paul II sent a message stressing Agnelli's "Christian faith". "(He was) a personality who, for more than half a century, drew national and international attention for his notable skills as an entrepreneur," said the pope. Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero recalled Agnelli's habit of phoning him every morning, adding: "when people enter your head and mind so much, they never really go away". A statement on the website of the Serie A champions and leaders said: "We'd like to imagine him siting in his seat at the (new) Juventus Stadium, clapping enthusiastically...and smiling at the fact that his Juve is in good hands". All the Agnelli family attended the ceremonies except for his daugher Margherita who is fighting the others in an inheritance case.

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