Christianity in Italy

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Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian Denomination in Italy. According to a 2005 survey by Eurispes, 87.8% of the population identified themselves as Catholic; of those, 36.8% considered themselves practicing Catholics and 30.8% said they attended church every Sunday.[1]


Nested in Rome is the Vatican City, a sovereign city-state and vestige of the much larger former Papal States, which is governed by the Pope, who holds the office of Bishop of Rome. The Vatican City is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Roman Curia and of the Pope's official residence, the Apostolic Palace. Thus the Vatican City, and Rome in general, is the government capital of the Catholic Church. It is the principal ecclesiastical seat of the Holy See Basilica of St. John Lateran, the location of the Pope's cathedral.

Within Catholic churches, different liturgical rites are practised: the Latin Rite (which comprises the widely practised Roman Rite and the Ambrosian Rite, practice in the Archdiocese of Milan), the Byzantine Rite practised by the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church (three dioceses in Sicily, Calabria and Lazio), the Armenian Rite (notably in San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Venice), and other Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. Due to immigration, the Byzantine Rite is especially practiced in Italy by Ukrainian Greek Catholics and by Romanian Catholics.

The Italo-Albanian Catholic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Romanian Church United with Rome, and other minor churches are all autonomous particular churches in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

The country's Catholic patron saints are Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena.[2]

Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity[edit]

Protestant church in Bordighera, Liguria.

While Catholicism is by far the largest Christian denomination in Italy, and the country has more cardinals than any other country in the world, it is also home to a significant minority of other Christian denominations. The oldest of the non-Catholic entities, the Waldensian Evangelical Church, forms a single church with Methodists and is a pre-Lutheran Protestant community (which then adopted Calvinist theology, so that it can be considered the Italian branch of Reformed churches), based in some valleys of Piedmont.

In the 20th century, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostalism, non-denominational Evangelicalism, and Mormonism were the fastest-growing Protestant churches. Immigration from Western, Central, and Eastern Africa at the beginning of the 21st century has increased the size of Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal and Evangelical communities in Italy, while immigration from Eastern Europe has produced large Eastern Orthodox communities.

In 2006, Protestants made up 2.1% of Italy's population, and members of Eastern Orthodox churches comprised 1.2%.


These data refer to the whole Italian population (58,751,711 - 2006, estimated)[citation needed].

See also[edit]