Religions of Italy - Life in Italy (2023)

Italy and its long history of spirituality

When it's aboutspirituality, Italy is atraditionally catholic country. Despite the large increase in the practice of other religions, most Italians still remain distant.Catholic. A survey carried out bydoshaIn 2014, 3/4 (75%) of Italians consider themselves devout Catholics. 10% of us feel spiritual and believe in the existence of a higher entity, but we don't join any organization.Religion, while 5% belong to different religions.

The remaining 10% of Italians are evenly split between atheists (meaning they don't believe in the existence of any kind of higher spiritual entity) and agnostics (meaning they believe the existence of God cannot be proven or proven). . deny). . In short, 3/4 of all Italians are Catholic, 1/4 are not. Of these, 1/5 are non-religious and 1/10 non-believers.

The increase in multiculturalism in the country and the increase in immigration from culturally very different countries to Italy has increased the presence of religions that until 40 or 50 years ago were practically unknown within our borders: today,Islam and Buddhism,"novelties" in our country, to be practiced side by sideHebraism, Protestantism and Orthodoxywho, by the way, were persecuted for centuries. The issue of multiculturalism and the spread of religions other than Catholicism in Italy is among the most interesting and sensitive issues to deal with today, especially in the name of the incredible rise of religious extremism around the world. In fact, it could very well be the subject of an article of its own, but it is not the focus of this article. Is forhistory of spiritualitywe want to spend time on earth: a history that goes hand in hand with that of the earth and begins centuries before the coming of Christ. From the pre-Roman population, through the great Roman cults, to the advent of Christianity and the diversity of current practices, Italy has remained through the centuries a strongly spiritual country, whose culture and art have been profoundly influenced, although many today are not. can admit it - through himSpirituality.

Before God stood the gods: Rome and its gods

The cliché associated with Rome and itsReligionit is a polytheism of Greek inspiration, which is at least partly true: the Roman pantheon, that is, the gods worshiped by the Romans, were largely those already worshiped in Greece, although with different names. The Roman Jupiter, god of all gods, was the Greek Zeus; his wife Juno was called Hera in Greece. Minerva, goddess of wisdom, strength and military strategy,born from the head of Jupiter after the great god suffered a particularly painful migraine, was known to the Greeks as Athena. Venus, goddess of beauty, was Haphrodite; Diana, goddess of nature, hunting and the moon, was the Greek Artemis. Her brother Apollo, god of poetry, the sun and music, was the Greek Apollo.

Each phase of human life was controlled and protected by a specific god. This was typical of ancient polytheistic religions, as they were not only a way of structuring spirituality, but were also unconsciously developed by mankind to provide an explanation for what was then unexplained, especially in the realm of nature: the winds were caused by a god, like the rising of the sun and the shining of the moon.

romanoSpirituality,it was much more diverse and also more complex. Although the official Roman pantheon was respected and accepted by all, other forms of worship were common among citizens of the Empire (and the former Republic). Hedeath cultwas particularly widespread, as it was thepenaten: these were similar to Christian guardian angels and were considered protectors of families and homes; each family had its own, and many Romans considered their worship more intimate than that of the great gods.

Religions of Italy - Life in Italy (1)

The Romans were for the most part, and generally,religiously tolerant: They left freedom of worship to all conquered peoples and it was not until the arrival ofChristianitythat authentic religious persecutions occurred in the Empire, although, as we will see below, they were not as frequent as we might believe and were not necessarily due to a purely spiritual problem.

But in Rome religion was different from spirituality: if people's spiritual needs were often not met by the intimate and personal cults of the dead and the Penates, Roman religion, especially during the Empire, was a political matter. For the imperial Romans, he, the emperor, was the first and foremost of all gods. Emperor worship was supreme and essential, and the most important of all forms of worship. As stated, the Romans were very tolerant of religion and left their subjects free to follow their local practices after annexation to the empire.provided they agreed to recognize the emperor's divine nature.He was not a representative of the gods on earth, he was a god. The God of Rome and His Greatness.

Needless to say, this is a big part of what I haveearly christiansin trouble (and the energetic Jews of Palestine before them): his refusal to accept the emperor's divinity. As monotheists, Christians believe in a God whose incarnation was Christ, not necessarily the Emperor of Rome: this has been a cause of persecution, as has the fact that Christians are considered politically dangerous for their sense of close community and independence. The fact that the early Christians tended to come from the less favored social strata also terrified Roman power, because their herald of a new faith made them socially more dangerous in the eyes of political leaders.

The topic would take days to write and unfortunately we don't have all that space... However, we finally got to the point whereChristianityentered the world of Rome and therefore also of Italy.

Religions of Italy - Life in Italy (2)

Rome, the holy city of Catholicism

we all know thatChristianityfinds its most ancient roots in the countries of Israel and Palestine and in Jewish spirituality. However, it is withROMthat Christians are mostly connected, and this has very specific historical reasons. These are particularly important for us Italians, as they bring together the two cultural and philosophical currents that - with all the due impurities of the others, of course - form the very core of our tradition and our cultural essence: theGreco-Roman and Judeo-Christian. During Jesus' preaching years, the Middle East, where he and his disciples lived and spread the word, was under Roman rule. After the death and resurrection of Christ, and according to the Gospel narratives, after having named Peter his successor and having asked him and the other apostles to take the Christian message to the whole world, it was natural that Jesus would continue to leave the fragrant , soft lands of Israel to take your message to various places. The world, Jesus told them, and at that time the world was the Mediterranean Sea and all the countries and lands that lay before it. And then she was the undisputed queen of the world, Rome, which was also the capital of the empire of which Israel was the province. The decision to make Rome the final destination was a natural one, and Rome was.Pedro, the first Pope of the Christian Church, andPablo, the apostle and father of Christian dogma, brought his message. Both lost their lives here during Nero's persecution of Christians, but their legacy has made Rome what it is today.

Therefore, Rome is the center ofChristianitybecause then the center of the world as it was known and the last place of testimony of two of the first Christian saints, Peter and Paul, indoctrinators and apostles of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Christianity itself became a legal religion within the state (Edict of Milan, 313) by the Roman Empire and by the will of its Emperor Constantine, whose official religion would become in 380 with the Edict of Thessalonica. they play this central role in the development and preservation of Christianity, although other places (Milan, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Tours) may be considered holy cities in their own right, especially during the Middle Ages.

From then on, the history of the Church and of Christian thought remained doubly linked to that of Italy.

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Italy's religion

During theMiddle AgesItaly became the birthplace of arts and philosophy, many of them inspired (and funded) by the Holy See.Christianity,also through the spread of monasticism from the early Middle Ages, it became the religion of all of Italy and Europe. Monasticism did much not only for the spread of Catholicism (before the Reformation, all Christians were Catholic and the two terms were interchangeable), but also for the development of Western thought and the transmission of classical knowledge. They were greatly helped in this, starting with the 8th.heCentury and its invasion of Spain by the Arabs. A people of profound knowledge and an extreme sense of beauty, and it is thanks to their scholars and intellectuals that a large part of Greek philosophy, for example, entered the modern world. Medicine, astronomy, mathematics are all disciplines.Arabicmuch more sophisticated than the Westerners of the time and this was transmitted to the peoples of Europe through contact and mutual respect. in the 9heIn the mid-19th century, the Arabs also conquered Sicily, a part of Italy where the influence of their architecture and culture can still be seen today. Not only Christianity but also other religions have contributed to the beauty of our civilization.

or romanCatholicThe Church experienced a resurrection well into the 16th century, though almost always in opposition to the Protestant religion.lutheranismhowever, it became an issue in the mid-15th century and so on.roman inquisitionbegan under the leadership of Pope Paul III. Together withInquisitiona growing effort arose to bring the Catholic religion to the people. Bishops were encouraged to make their presence known to the common people, seminaries were built to train more clergy, and churches multiplied, all in an effort to supplant the still strong Protestant religion.

During Italy's years of struggle for independence from foreign powers and for unification, the Church vigorously fought against the project of Cavour and Vittorio Emanuele II. the truth is thestate of the church, the Church's political and territorial agency, held power over much of central Italy and was reluctant to cede that power to Savoia. Therefore, for a long time the church was considered co-responsible for the late unification of the country.

Church and state interference in Italy has been a historical commonplace throughout history. In fact, not only in Italy, but throughout Europe, where history, especially in certain moments of the Middle Ages, was almost determined by the struggle between secular and religious powers. In Italy, the separation of church and state was finally signed and confirmed in 1929.approach back,Signed byCardinal Pietro Gasparri, the Vatican Secretary of State andBenito Mussolini, then Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy. Since then, the presence ofCatholicismin Italy it was largely spiritual, although the Vatican's possible involvement in some of the great mysteries of postwar Italy remains one of the most debated topics in the country.

Religions of Italy - Life in Italy (4)

We have seen how Italians consider themselves Catholic, but today only a minority of them practice it regularly. However, since his arrival at the Holy See ofPope Francisco, things have changed a bit. The Argentine Pope is very popular with the people for his simplicity and attitude, and this seems to have brought about some return to faith. However, many others are starting to feel disillusioned with Bergoglio, who has been criticized for some public speaking slips and some acts of questionable taste. Only time will tell what the current Pope's role and legacy will be for Catholicism.

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Beyond Catholicism

WhileCatholic churchIts long history and current strength make it the most prominent religion in Italy,Jewish belief and cultureit also plays a role in Italian religion. A small number of Jews settled in the city nearly two thousand years ago.ROM,and they gradually gathered in the southern part of Italy.Jews played an important role in they were considered the first to lend money and charge a fixed rate of interest, which gave them great influence in trade and the management of goods. They faced persecution during the 16th century, dating back to the World War II years, as they were forced to live apart and wear a symbol of the religion for all to see, a practice that was repeated during the Holocaust. Basically, they were emancipated in the 18th century, but suffered deportation and death during WWII. However, their lineage lives on and remains strong today with over 40,000 Italian Jewish citizens.

HeevangelicalThe community in the country reaches 750 thousand members, mostly Pentecostals;orthodox christianin Italy there are around 1.3 million, whilemuslimsthere are about 1.2 million, according to the Muslim World League. However, this estimate has been lowered significantly by Caritas reports, which put the number at 650,000. Many are those tooBuddhistsit's himindians, both reaching over 100,000 followers. As is often the case, while these estimates are considered official, they may not be entirely accurate as they are based on official records that may not include part of a given community. This applies in particular to religious communities that have grown through legal and illegal immigration.

By Susie McGee

Updated by Francesca Bezzone

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