For Italian Catholics, a different debate over ‘choice’

A pharmacy across the street from Vatican City in Rome, Italy. | Photo by Michael Wilner

It may be the last empire in the world on which the sun never sets: the Catholic Church, a kingdom full of believers and skeptics alike, with its one billion followers strewn across the globe. With such reach and untold wealth, it might seem ill-advised to question its influence. But walk across the street from its seat of power, and you will find a direct challenge to that influence at the most unusual of places: a local pharmacy.

Fighting the Good Fight: Profile of an Evangelical Missionary in Italy

A lighted cross.

Brent Harrell is a Protestant Evangelical from Boise, Idaho who now lives and works in Rome as a missionary for his faith. Through his various efforts, some stemming from within the church he set up in a suburb of Rome, he hopes to missionize the world’s most Catholic country.

The nuns of Rome

The nuns of Rome | Photo by Andrea Palatnik.

While wandering the streets of Rome, Andrea Palatnik was struck by the volume of nuns in the city. Camera in hand, she documented almost every nun she came across and put together a slideshow.

Outside the camps: Helping the Roma in Rome

Clothes hang between two trailers inside the government built Roma camp in Ardea. The fence separates the camp into Muslim and Christian sections although both groups move freely between both sides. Roma from Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are likely to identify as Muslim while Roma from Serbia and Romania consider themselves Orthodox Christian or Catholic. | Photo by Bogdan Mohora

The Roma (gypsies) are a group of people who are historically Italy’s most marginalized, hated, victimized and poor. Sant’Egidio is a lay organization that battles negative public sentiment to provide these people with the social services they desperately need. The services are not granted to them in the camps they are forced to live in by the government, which in turn has spurred ethic and religious conflicts within camp boundaries.

Revealing Family Secrets

Amedeo Di Cori's photograph and the letters he sent from the Regano Coeli prison in Rome. | Photo by Aby Sam Thomas.

Sara Terracina works as a tour guide in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, explaining the history of the Jewish families there. But it was only in the past few months she learned more of her own family’s history — through a series of letters she rediscovers her uncle Amedeo, who was killed by the Nazis in 1945.

The paradox of birth control in Italy

The Vatican. | Photo by Anam Siddiq.

As the debate over birth control in the US rages on, this video takes a closer look at the duality of opinions – and practice – of women’s reproductive rights in Italy, and how the Catholic Church extends its long arms of the law across the pond.

The African Catholic Experience


Many Africans move to Rome to study Catholicism and the teachings of the church. Brandon Gates speaks with two Africans studying at Pontificia Università della Santa Croce about their experience as African Catholics.

A long way from home: African refugees lost in Italy


Stranded in Italy after leaving war-torn Libya, African refugees like Yeboah Emmanuel try to get by despite the lack of documents and the restrictions of a complicated legal limbo. Miles away from family and not sure about a place to call home, they depend on the kindness of strangers like the volunteers from a protestant organization in Rome.

Immigrants in Rome find a home in the Protestant Church

Screen shot 2012-05-07 at 10.31.01 AM (1)

Italy’s political and social climate has made it a difficult place for immigrants to live — especially those who aren’t a part of the Catholic Church. As a result, Protestants and immigrants have created a sense of community for themselves in Rome.

An order that educates

The chapel inside Policlinico Universitario Campus Bio-Medico. | Photo by Teresa Mahoney.

There are over 50 educational institutions worldwide affiliated with Opus Dei, a 20th-Century Catholic lay organization founded by Josemaria Escriva. Though the group has a storied history of involvement with education, the affiliated institutions are surprisingly independent.

Bearing the Cross in a Changing World


Who are America’s priests? How many are there? Where do they come from and who instructs them? “Bearing the Cross in a Changing World” — a short documentary — takes you from Rome to New York to answer those questions.

Stumbling upon memories

Sira Fatucci points to the five stolpersteine she had commissioned for members of her father's family. | Photo by Aby Sam Thomas.

Amid the grey cobblestones that line the narrow streets of this ancient city are some that seem to demand the attention of a passer-by.Their placement in the city seems random, but they are part of an art installation called “stolpersteine,” a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust by German Artist Gunter Demnig.

A reversal of faith: When the ‘missionized’ become the missionaries

Cloister gardens of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Rome. | Photo by Anne Cohen

The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary are not the missionaries as we have come to know them in memoirs and movies: strict nuns and priests carrying the banner of colonialism to unknown, “savage” lands. These sisters are modern missionaries for a brave new world.

Women and the law of the Church

It wasn’t until the Code of 1983 when the church officially recognized and encouraged lay people to become canon lawyers. | Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.

Canon law is an area that has been traditionally dominated by men and specifically, priests, until recently. The Archdiocese of New York, faced with an understaffed priesthood, began incorporating lay people into the fabric of Canon law. Now, the Archdiocese has sent its first woman to study Canon law in Rome.

Being Gay and Catholic in Rome

Screen shot 2012-04-27 at 12.03.48 PM

This short documentary examines the constant battle between religion and homosexuality, through the eyes of a schoolteacher in Rome discovering his sexuality and accepting his faith.

Pilgrim profile: Sister Maria Patricia

Sister Maria Patricia. | Photo by Nathan Vickers.

An interview with Sister Maria Patricia, a nun from the Apostles of Jesus Crucified Order, and faithful follower of Padre Pio.

In the shadow of Silvio’s saint


Angelina Jadanza, came to San Giovanni Rotondo 44 years ago on pilgrimage and never left — eventually serving in the hospital Padre Pio founded.

Pilgrim profile: Rose

Rose, born in Cameroon, is on a two-day pilgrimage from France. | Photo by Teresa Mahoney.

An interview with Rose, a pilgrim who’s come to pray for her daughter’s success at the shrine of Padre Pio.

Attracting the diverse

Milena Ercolino. | Photo by Aby Sam Thomas.

20-year-old Valentina Franzese makes for an unlikely pilgrim, but she has been traveling around various places of religious significance throughout Europe with her family. Contrastingly, Milena Ercolino, has been working as a tour guide at the Padre Pio shrine for over 12 years.

Beyond San Giovanni Rotondo: Padre Pio still speaks to the world

A technician works the soundboard at Tele Radio Padre Pio. | Photo by Anne Cohen.

Tele Radio Padre Pio, broadcasts Padre Pio-related content 24 hours a day, acros four continents. Here’s a glimpse inside this small but potent operation, right in the heart of San Giovanni Rotondo.

Padre Pio: Making business personal

Rodolfo San Rafaelle (right) and his wife (left) at their small souvenir shop in San Giovanni Rotondo. | Photo by Teresa Mahoney.

San Raffaele Articoli Religiosi souvenir shop was one of the first top open up in San Giovanni Rotondo, almost 45 years ago. It now competes with nearly two dozen similar stores.

Cured by Padre Pio

Screen Shot 2012-03-26 at 11.15.01 PM

Agnes Reyes and Maria Persichetti are just two of the many pilgrims who travel to San Giovanni Rotondo every year come to ask Padre Pio to have their ailments be cured with a blessing or miracle.

The Business of Pilgrimage

Screen Shot 2012-03-29 at 7.09.40 PM

A pilgrimage is one of the oldest forms of tourism, and religious travel is still going strong, despite the economic recession. The small Italian town of San Giovanni Rotondo, the resting place of a modern-day Saint, epitomizes a place where faith and finances intersect.

Coming Soon

Features on Italian religious groups coming soon!