Are you going on holiday to Italy? Are you interested in the religion of Italian people? Perhaps you want to see some of the main religious sites in Italy? Our guide to religion in Italy gives you the facts & information you’ll want to know.
Religion in Modern Italy
Italy is a modern European state that is secular in its government and the traditional power once held by organised religion is declining. Today nearly one fifth of the population of Italy profess to be either Atheists or Agnostics, while much of the remainder of Italians who do profess a religion do not necessarily follow it that strictly. Nevertheless, in comparison to some other Western European countries religion is still very much ingrained in the culture of Italy.
Catholic Religion in Italy
Italy is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Catholic branch of the Christian religion. It was in Italy that Catholic theology first developed and the Pope, who is the official head of the Catholic religion, resides in the Vatican City in Italy. About 80% of people in Italy identify themselves as followers of the Catholic religion, although regular church attendees represent only between 30-40% of the population.
Although secular practices have to a large degree penetrated in to the culture and customs of Italians, certain religious rights and observances are still observed quite faithfully. Every year there are several feasts and festivals that have their origins in the Christian religion. The majority of marriages in Italy still take place in a church and are administered by an official man of religion. First Holy Communion which is a right of passage for all young members of the Catholic religion is observed by the majority of people in Italy.
Like other countries that follow the Catholic understanding of the Christian religion such as Spain, pilgrimage is very popular and every year thousands of pilgrims travel across Italy to some holy sight to seek blessings.
Other Christian Sects in Italy
While there are other denominations of the Christian religion represented in Italy, these are very small in number. Perhaps the most significant of these are the Jehovah Witnesses who number approximately half a million people. Other interpretations of the Christian religion in Italy include the Protestants.
Islam in Italy
Today Islam is the second largest religion in Italy. The total number of followers of the Muslim religion in Italy currently stands at about 1,000,000. However, it should be noted that the majority of followers of the Muslim religion in Italy are either recent immigrants or second generation immigrants to Italy. With the exception of Sicily, Mainland Italy was never subjected to Muslim rule during the middle ages, although much of the intellectual impetus behind the Italian renaissance is attributed to the contribution of Medieval Muslim scholars who preserved, translated and re-introduced ancient Greek ideas to Europe from the 14th century onwards.