Rome shines golden light through the arches of the Colosseum for 24 hours in celebration of New Jersey's abolishment of the death penalty.
"We light it up when there is real good news, a real step forward in the campaign against the death penalty," said Mario Marazziti, a spokesman for Sant'Egidio and coordinator of its campaign for a worldwide moratorium of the death penalty, in a telephone interview from Italy.
New Jersey's legislature voted this week to replace the state's death penalty with life in prison without parole. Gov. Jon Corzine signed the bill in a Statehouse ceremony on Monday. The Colosseum lighting would happen the following day, Marazziti said.
The Colosseum, a site of executions and gladiator contests during the Roman Empire, has emerged as a symbol in organized campaigns against capital punishment. It has received the golden treatment -- its regular lighting is white -- about 20 times since 1999, most recently last month after a committee of the United Nations General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions, Marazziti said.
Other special lightings include when Albania abolished its death penalty in 1999 and in 2003 when then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted all death sentences in that state.