by Jasper Ridley – A Book Review
Updated 6 December 2013
My great grandfather, Aristodemo Giovanni Frandi, fought in Garibaldi’s ‘army’ and eventually emigrated to New Zealand in 1875. Many were the tales he told his family about the betrayals of the Catholic Church, of its priests and nuns, who informed on Garibaldi’s fighters time and again. Read more about Aristodemo and Annunziata Frandi
The Catholic Church has the audacity to say that Catholics made a fundamental contribution to creating a united Italy and a national identity, in a message marking the country’s 150th birthday. Pope Benedict XVl has in the past stated that Christianity helped forge a national identity that resisted political fragmentation on the Italian peninsula, and foreign domination. He stated that the Church’s contribution came through education, literature and the arts in general, listing such personalities as Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini, whose works were often commissioned for religious purposes. Is the pope trying to publicise a dwindling Christianity in this age of free thinking and science?
Benedict obviously lives in a religious fantasy world. Artists were stymied and never allowed to paint what they pleased in case it offended the Catholic Church. Many artists lived a life of subsistence because of this and it is well documented how the Catholic clergy, including extremely wealthy popes and cardinals, enforced their sexual proclivities on young artists. The 19th Century Pope did all he could to quash any attempts at the unification of Italy. It would mean that the papal states would shrink to the City of Rome and finally to Vatican City. Giusseppe Garibaldi led the Risorgimento; he and his followers hated the Catholic Church (Papal Rome) because so often they were betrayed by nuns, priests and cardinals. It was Garibaldi and those politicians who supported his quest for unification, who finally forced Austria, papal sycophants, and France, out of Italy. Garibaldi’s heartbreak was that Nice, his birthplace, was ceded to France in 1861 by politicians, as part of the deal that they leave the peninsula.
It is such a joke that Pope Benedict could come out and say it was through Catholic education and literature that Italy was united. The truth is, only ‘the list’ of books approved by the Church were available for the general populace to read. Most literature that made its way to Italy was burned or hidden in heavily fortified libraries only accessible to Monks and Cardinals. See previous post Vatican Library. As for resisting political fragmentation; the only reason they exiled or brutalised any political opposition was because the Church did not want to lose the corrupted power base they possessed. The Church was fully funded and supported by the Spanish, French and Austrians.
If any group can be held responsible for seeding the Risorgimento (resurgence) it was the people of Italy themselves; mostly peasant farmers, some elitists, and mercenaries who had fought with Garibaldi in South America. Peasant farmers, led by Garibaldi, almost single-handedly drove foreign power out of Sicily, and this was the catalyst that began the unstoppable unification of the peninsula. The Roman Catholic Church opposed unification simply because it would mean the end of the vice grip they held over Italy. Read Garibaldi by Jasper Ridley, it is very enlightening and I would hazard a guess that it is not one of the Vatican’s favourite books.
– Anne Frandi-Coory 6 December 2013