Protestantism in Italy

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Protestant church in Bordighera, Liguria.

Protestantism in Italy is a Christian minority in an overwhelmingly Catholic country.[1]

While Catholicism is by far the largest Christian denomination in Italy and the country has more cardinals than any other country in the world, Italy is also home to a significant minority of Protestants. The oldest of the non-Catholic entities, the Waldensian Evangelical Church, is a pre-Lutheran Protestant community (which then adopted Calvinist theology, so that it can be considered the Italian branch of Reformed churches) and is based in some valleys of Piedmont. Since 1975 the Waldensians form a united church with Italian Methodists, who have traditionally had a non-episcopal polity.[2]

The Protestant Reformation in Italy began early, before the end of the 15th century, and quickly collapsed at the beginning of the 17th century. Its development was hindered by the Inquisition and also popular disdain.[3]

Protestantism among ethnic Italians had a small group of followers in Switzerland, and would emerge in the Italy during the rissorgimento in the nineteenth century. The king of Savoy granted religious freedom and civic emancipation to the Waldenses in 1848, extending religious freedom to the rest of the peninsula as the unification advanced. Newer Waldensian congregation sprung up as well as the Italian Christian Free Churches (which lasted from 1852 to 1904) and the Italian Church of the Brethren.[4] Meanwhile British and American missionaries began to preach and plant Anglican, Baptists, and Methodist churches.

In the early twentieth century, lay missionaries spread the Pentecostal religion throughout the country. Nowadays, most of those resulting Pentecostal congregations belongs to the Assemblies of God in Italy, the Pentecostal Christian Congregations, the Italian Pentecostal Christian Churches, the Apostolic Church in Italy, and other smaller groups.

The Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI), formed in 1967, comprises all the historical Protestant churches of Italy (including the Waldensians and Methodists, the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Italy, the Baptist Evangelical Christian Union of Italy, and some minor churches), plus two observer members with a large following (the Federation of Pentecostal Churches and the Italian Union of Seventh-Day Adventist Christian Churches).[5][6]

In the 20th century, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals, non-denominational Evangelicals, and Mormons were the fastest-growing Protestant churches. Immigration from Western, Central, and East Africa at the beginning of the 21st century has increased the size of these churches, as that of Baptists and Anglicans.

In 2006 Protestants made up 2.1% of Italy's population.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Religions in Italy (Italian)
  2. ^
  3. ^ (Italian) La Riforma in Italia (accessed 21.06.2010)
  4. ^ Spini, G.l'Evangelo ed il beretto frigio. Rome: Claudiana,
  5. ^
  6. ^