Marietta Jaeger Lane and Deacon Bob Lane stand in a small underground chapel in Rome.
Marietta Jaeger Lane and Deacon Bob Lane stand in a small underground chapel in Rome. In November, the Lanes traveled to Europe where Mrs. Lane spoke about the death penalty as part of the Cities for Life program. (Photo provided)

Marietta Jaeger Lane, the Three Forks woman known internationally for her work against the death penalty, recently returned from Rome, where she and husband Deacon Bob Lane participated in the Cities for Life program.

It takes place annually in support of the United Nations’ 2007 resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty. Cities for Life is sponsored by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay organization whose members strive to live in the Gospel-oriented ways of St. Giles, or Sant’Egidio in Italian, and St. Francis of Assisi. In addition to working against the death penalty, the community has brokered peace treaties in countries where others could not and has developed an effective AIDS project in Africa, Mrs. Lane said.

Visiting Rome in November marked the third time in three years that the Community of Sant’Egidio has honored the Lanes, who are members of Holy Family Parish in Three Forks, by inviting them to participate in Cities for Life.

After Mrs. Lane spoke in Rome on Nov. 29, the mayor flipped the switch that illuminated the entire Colosseum as a sign to the world that the city supports life and opposes killing in any form. On the same night, other cities in Europe and Africa illuminated their tallest towers in a show of support.

On Nov. 30, the Lanes flew to Trieste, Italy, and from there traveled to Slovenia’s capital of Ljubljana, where Mrs. Lane spoke to an assembly of students at a large Catholic high school. Returning to Trieste, the Lanes joined members of the Community of Sant’Egidio for one of their twice weekly gatherings in which prayers are offered for the poor, the homeless, the incarcerated, death-row inmates and the victims of their crimes, particularly the condemned and their victims in the United States.

After returning to Rome, the Lanes privately toured the Catacombs of Priscilla, in the company of a catacombs guide who is a Sant’Egidio member. On their last evening in Rome, the Lanes attended the Sant’Egidio community’s Saturday Mass, open to the public and usually celebrated with at least 13 priests at the altar. A festive, group dinner followed.

For the third time, Vatican Radio interviewed Marietta Jaeger Lane about her faith-based opposition to the death penalty. The two previous interviews were in the 1990s. Lane became an activist against the death penalty after her 7-year-old daughter, Susie, was abducted in 1973 and killed.

Published in The Montana Catholic Online, Volume 27, No. 1, January 21, 2011.