Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
Italians are originally from the nation state of Italy. They speak Italian, a language based on Latin. There are probably about 30 dialects and regional Italian languages. The original settlers of the Italian Peninsula include Greeks, Etruscans, Latins, and Romans. Their land was named Italia by the ancient Greeks who once controlled the Mediterranean region. That changed in 146 BC when the emerging Roman Empire won the Third Punic War. Rome maintained control of the region until the 400s AD when they were defeated by various Gothic tribes.
The Roman Empire was foundational for Western civilization. Much of their technology, political structure and the Roman Catholic Church formed Western civilization. Even after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire in 476AD, other empires either emerged from it, or emulated it. First there was the Byzantine Empire, which was the eastern half of the Roman Empire which lasted until 1453. Later there was the so-called Holy Roman Empire, which lasted in some form for 1,000 years.
The Renaissance was birthed in Northern Italian city states like Florence, Milan, Bologna, and Turin. These states were economically and culturally powerful. They even established universities. Yet unifying as a nation was problematic for centuries. There were the Napoleonic Wars and hostile popes who did not want Italian kings to rival their power. Finally in 1861, Italy became a nation state with Victor Emmanuel II as their first king. The deal was sealed when Italian troops took Rome in 1870-71. Rome was now the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. Italy was one of the four victorious great powers in WWI. They annexed more territory and islands, and soon began to take colonies in Africa. Italy's defeat in WWII meant the loss of their short-lived colonies in Libya and Ethiopia. They moved from being a kingdom to being a republic in 1946.
Throughout their long history, Italians have often moved elsewhere, mostly for economic reasons. Most of the Italians who left Italy did so between the 1880s and 1914 when the country was facing serious economic troubles. There is an Italian diaspora in dozens of countries including Switzerland.
There are a large number of Italians in Switzerland. They share a border, and a percentage of the Swiss are of Italian heritage.
What are their lives like?
One cannot generalize about the jobs held by Italians in diaspora. They have come a long way since taking low paying jobs in the days gone by.
Though Diaspora Italians integrate aspects of their new culture, they maintain many characteristics from Italy. Italians are very social, and they love good food. No matter where they move, people welcome the addition of Italian food to their diet. Italians are known for their hospitality.
Family life is very important to Italians no matter where they live. Their families are smaller, and women have more rights than they did in decades past. The elderly are given much respect; the younger generations are expected to care for the needs of retired relatives. If at all possible, Italians have contact with their extended families. This is more difficult for those in diaspora.
What are their beliefs?
Over 90% of Italians profess to be Catholic, but less than 1% attend church more than three times a year, including weddings and funerals. Secularism and the occult are growing among Italians.
What are their needs?
Italians need people with the character of Jesus to live among them and show them the ways of truth. On paper Italians are 98% Christian, but their form of Christianity often does not center around Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ is often compromised either by secularism or church traditions.
Pray for a movement to a Christ-centered spirituality among the Italian people in Switzerland.
Pray hearts will soon be softened to receive the good news of Jesus Christ.
Pray that the power of the gospel would overcome materialism, hedonism, secularism, and occultic practices. May Christ be glorified among the Italian people.
Pray for Italian Christ followers to actively take the savior to their friends and family members.
ReferencesView Italian in all countries.