Italy is an European country. Italian is its official language, and 93% of the population is native Italian speakers. Its ethnic background includes small clusters of German-Italians, French-Italians, Slovene-Italians, Albanian-Italians, and Greek-Italians. With various clusters of people come various beliefs in religion. Religion has influenced the culture, artists, and national treasures of Italy in various ways.
Culture is one aspect of Italy that is highly influenced by religion. Religion was part of the state constitution. The people of Italy are Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim. The Muslim community is still continuing to grow. The Jews, Muslim, Orthodox, or Eastern Rite Catholics make up about 2% of the population. The Roman Catholic community accounts for majority of Italy. There are more Catholic churches for individuals in Italy than any other country. Rome and the Vatican City alone are filled with thousands of shrines, relics, and churches. Church attendance is quite low, but the influence of the church is still high. Many office buildings contain a cross or religious statue in the lobby. The church sets forth hierarchy, which can be seen in all of Italian’s relationships. People in Italy respect their elders, those who achieved business success, and people from well-connected families. Each day of the year has at least one patron St. associated with it. Even trades and professions have a patron saint. Children are named for a particular saint, and they celebrate their Saint’s day just like it was their own birthday. In 1884, an agreement was made between the Italian Republic and the Vatican, which would be modified by the Lateran Concorde of 1929, and ratified into a new law in 1985. It stated that schools below college level were able to teach the Catholic religion, and everyone has the right to take advantage of or decline this privilege.
March 19th is celebrated as the Feast of St. Joseph. It began in the Middle Ages when there was a drought in Sicily. The desperate people living there asked Joseph for rain in exchange for a huge meal in his honor. Of course, the rains came and the land was thriving again. In keeping their promise, the people prepared an enormous feast, beginning the tradition of the St. Joseph’s Table and giving food to the less fortunate. Today, many churches and organizations still host St. Joseph’s Tables, in which parishioners or members prepare and donate large amounts of food, all meat-less items.
The Italians do believe in the supernatural. Many general supernatural beliefs of the Catholic Church are intertwined with older beliefs. An example is Sicily, in which, Arabic and Greek influences have blended with popular Spanish beliefs and been incorporated into Catholicism. They have beliefs in the evil eye, charms, spells, messages through dreams, and various other types of omens. They believed in witches with powers and anti-witches. Many of the beliefs have died out with...