Saturday, March 8, 2008

LDS life in Italy

By Trafford R. Cole
I thought it might be of interest to others to write a series of blogs on the saints in Italy and Europe, and how the members live the gospel here.
I belong to the Padova ward near Venice, Italy. There are presently five stakes in Italy. The first formed was at Milan about 14 years ago. The Venice stake was the second in 1996 and takes in almost all of northeast Italy. This is a geographical area that goes from Ogden to Provo and beyond, and there are 14 units in the stake that vary from about 120 active members in Verona, to about 12 active members at Mantova.
The Bari stake was formed a few years ago and in the last two years we have had the Rome stake and the newly formed Alessandria Stake that takes in from Turin to Genova and beyond. We are hoping that the reason behind forming the last stake is that five stakes are necessary to begin planning a temple in Italy. For the time being we attend the Swiss temple near Bern Switzerland. For the saints living in Sicily this means a 24-hour bus ride to arrive and the same to return home. To see Italy go to this link:,12.568359&spn=10.893993,20.43457&z=6&om=1
Even though I live at Padova, I am the branch president at Ferrara, which is about an hour away. At Ferrara we have an average attendance of 18 to 20 members. The missionaries have been there off and on for 35 years now, but the branch does not seem to grow. There is one active family and everyone else is single. Many are elderly ladies who are widows, but we also have some young adults. We have no primary, no young women and just one young man who next year turns eighteen. This is not to say that this isn't a great branch. These are members who have remained faithful for years through all sorts of hardship, and have maintained a strong spirit. When we sing all eighteen members often we make more joyous noise than a whole ward in Utah. The spirit is strong, but the difficulties are many.
Italy is a country that is 98% catholic, and many social, cultural and traditional activities revolve around the parish. The soccer fields often belong to the church and the nuns manage the kindergartens and nursery schools. When someone joins the church they don’t just change religions, but they go against hundreds of years of traditions and family and cultural values. Many have been ostracized by their families. Many have lost friends, some have even lost their job.
It takes courage to be a “Mormon.” It takes courage to join the church. It takes courage to live the gospel. It takes courage and a strong testimony that is put to the test constantly.


Doug Johnston said...

I love Italy. I traveled there when I lived in Spain when I was a child. I remember when Spain only dreamed of having a temple. I remember the wonderful day when I heard that Spain would get a temple. Someday I need to return to both Spain and Italy!

Rebecca Talley said...

My son is serving in Ostia right now and has served in Florence, Naples, and Castelemarre (spelling?). He's in the Rome mission and his 1st Mission President was our family doctor (who also organized the Rome Stake). My son has 5 months left. He loves Italy, though it is a difficult mission because of the reasons you've listed. He has had a few baptisms, but has really concentrated on teaching the people. He really loves his mission and, hopefully, one day we'll be able to return with him to visit where he's served.

My family comes from the Piedmont region in Northern Italy.

Thank for your post--I'm very interested in Italy as you can tell.