Rizzuto Told American Judge About Spot on Lung in 2007

Vito Rizzuto was buried in a coffin made of gold.

Canadian Mafia drug kingpin Vito Rizzuto, 67, died in a very unnatural way for someone in his line of work: of natural causes, on Dec. 23.

His funeral mass this past Monday was held at Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense, a Catholic Church in Montreal's Little Italy. It is the same church where masses were held for Vito's father and one son, both named Nicolo, though the son preferred Nick. (Vito's other son, Leonardo, reportedly practices law).

(The church has a certain notoriety of its own regarding its sizable cupola, brick facade and frescoes -- specifically one fresco painted prior to World War II that depicts Benito Mussolini signing the Lateran Accords in 1929, which recognized The State of the Vatican City, ensuring its "absolute and visible independence" and "to guarantee to it an indisputable sovereignty in international affairs." The treaty's principles are upheld today. Built by Italian immigrants, the church was inaugurated in 1919.)

Nick, long considered Vito's heir apparent, was murdered in 2009, while Vito's father was assassinated a year later, by sniper fire. It was Nicolo who had gained control of what was initially a small subsidiary of New York's Bonanno family, which over time, under Vito's leadership, absorbed other organized crime groups in Montreal.

In late 2012, when Vito returned home after serving his sentence (his former Bonanno brethren-turned-informants Sal Vitale and Joe Massino could be said to have bought their freedom with Rizzuto blood), he swiftly defeated all would-be usurpers and continued avenging the murders of his family members up until this past November, less than one month before his own death.

Nine limousines carried mourners to and from the church in Montreal's Little Italy.
It is still not known if his stay in a U.S. prison contributed to his death. The Montreal Gazette has revealed: "Vito Rizzuto’s health problems became a matter of public record on May 4, 2007, when he told the American judge who sentenced him (to the equivalent of a 10-year prison term) that, two months earlier, a doctor had noticed a spot on his lung and recommended he get a CT scan. Rizzuto appeared to be in relatively good health after he returned to Montreal. But according to a police source, the Mob boss appeared very frail when he was spotted in a Montreal supper club just days before his death, reportedly of complications from lung cancer."

Mourners walking out of the church at the end of the ceremony.
The funeral Monday attracted hundreds of mourners and widespread media coverage. 

The Don who ruled Montreal for decades was laid to rest in a gold casket.

Nine limousines nuzzled along the curb in front of the church to transport the family as dozens of photographers, TV crews and onlookers gathered alongside police officers seeking to decipher the actions of any Mafiosi in attendance, no doubt trying to identify Vito's successor based on any overt signs of deference shown to him.

The Mob boss "oversaw a heroin and cocaine network that spanned the length and breadth of the country," according to the UK's MailOnline.

The priest who oversaw the ceremony told the Toronto Star: "It was a very simple funeral.

"People displayed a very, very surprising level of calm and seriousness."

Rizzuto's mother is on the left in this picture.
A contingent of the curious braved the bone-deep chill of a Montreal winter to see the events. One woman was quoted saying she was attracted by the air of mystery surrounding the family, having watched from the street at the funerals of Rizzuto's father and son as well.

"We don’t know their secrets, that’s for sure, but their names are mentioned all the time in the newspapers and on the news."

As for the successor, he "will very likely come from within the family," one source told The Gazette.

"Someone acting as a consigliere, likely Rocco Sollecito, will look at everything and advise the family on who should take over. But for the Rizzutos, it will be a relative, someone from the family."

Montreal police which mourners with a careful eye.