Italian culture and history: The Italy of Faith

Nov 28, 2015 435

WTI Magazine #73    2015 November 27
Author : italia.it      Translation by:

 

As the heart of one of the world's most significant religions, Italy has always been a destination for those who have made their faith a way of life and who wish to explore the roots of a world that has produced art, architecture, and objects of inestimable value. Italy is a land of pilgrimage - one of the foremost in the world - and is home to countless places of devotion and worship.


The Basilica of St. Francis


A holy city for Christians, Assisi is an eternal destination for pilgrims wanting to the see the places where Saint Francis was born, where he worked, and where he died.


Having been the birthplace of the Franciscan Order since the Middle Ages, Assisi has been the center of the Franciscan Cult and the movement's diffusion throughout the world, focusing on a message of peace and tolerance, especially in regard to other religions.


Francis died at the age of 44, and only two years later, he was canonized in an official Church ceremony in Assisi, on July 16, 1228. On that same day, Pope Gregory IX laid the first stone of the future Basilica, destined to become the "mother house" for the Franciscan Order.


The Sanctuary of Assisi is one of the oldest existing Gothic churches in Italy, and its walls are decorated with frescoes by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti.


The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua


The city of Padua is inextricably linked to the figure of St. Anthony, a Franciscan friar of the thirteenth century, venerated all over the world and patron of the city itself. Strenuous defender of Catholic doctrine, he fought the Cathar heresy, especially in France, with great energy and considerable success. He moved to Padua, where he died aged 36, and, due to the miracles attributed to him, he was canonized less then one year after his death by Pope Gregory IX. His relics are preserved in the little church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, next to the monastery he founded in 1229. This church represents the nucleus from which started the construction of the actual Basilica of Saint Anthony that now includes it as Chapel of the Black Madonna. The building of the Basilica began in 1200, but renovations and changes to the structure continued throughout the twentieth century.


The Padre Pio Sanctuary


The "Road of Pilgrims" that runs to the Arcangelo Michele Grotto, San Giovanni Rotondo (Apulia) was constructed in the late 1800s. San Giovanni Rotondo is the birth city of St. Pio (meaning Pius, and known in Italian as Padre Pio) of Pietrelcina and is famous all over the world as the city where the venerated monk worked his miracles. Pio was beatified in 2002, and it was he who founded the Sanctuary adjacent to the ancient Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Next to the Convent a second, larger Sanctuary (designed by noted architect Renzo Piano) was inaugurated on July 1, 2004.


Eucharistic Miracles


Italy is a destination for many pilgrims seeking out the sites of miracles tied to their religious faith. The cradle of Catholicism, Italy is a place that traditionally preserves its memories of prodigious and often scientifically-inexplicable events. However, these phenomena are recognized by the Ecclesiastical Authorities, for their predominant connection to the sacraments and to the hagiography of the Catholic religion.


The Bel Paese is the location for dozens of miracles recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, which have become ideals of veneration and the motivation for the pilgrimage of the faithful. Many Christians believe in the Eucharist, which in the Catholic and several Protestant Churches represents the sacrament established by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper, on the vigil of the Passion.

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