Satanism: More and
More Widespread among Catholics
Falasca, with the collaboration of Stefano Gasseri
Is Turin really the capital of Satanism in Italy? The notion is now so
widespread that it seems to have become a commonplace not merely for the peopleconcerned but also for the man in the street. As early as 1986 the idea
was launched by the German weekly Der Spiegel when it portrayed Turin as
a city besieged by the nightmare of Satanism, where thousands of adepts were
constantly engaged in devil worship. The uproar caused by a 1988 conference on
Diabolos, Dialogos, Daimon held there, and sponsored by the city government,
merely confirmed the impression.
This general impression does, in fact, have some historical basis. During the
second half of the 19th century, this city capital of the Savoy monarchical seat
became a refuge for a great many magicians and followers of the occult,
attracted to Turin by substantial help from the governors. For, those were the
years of fierce opposition between the two institutions of Church and State,
which was in favour of encouraging the spread of the phenomenon to the detriment
of the Catholic Church. Thus until the end of the century the Pie Imontese
rulers allowed sects of all kinds, satanic and occult, considerable freedom for
But it would be mistaken to think that the current Satanic wave, now swelling,
is the direct offshoot of the 19th century variety.
During this century, satanic sects in Italy all but disappeared. The reason was
the authorities' growing hostility - the first trial in Turin of followers of
satanic sects took place in 1890 - but mainly the hostility of the establishment
generally during the immediate, culturally materialistic and primarily Marxist
According to sociologist Massimo Introvigne, the phenomenon was barely existent
during the 1960s. But it was precisely then that an alternative culture
developed in the United States which spread to Europe and became embodied in the
1968 students' movements. In those years, Satanism took on new life in
California when Anton Szandor La Vey, a young San Franciscan, founded a "Church
of Satan" that had startling appeal. But the real father of contemporary
Satanism must rightly be considered to be Alastair Crowley, the English
Rosecrucian who died in 1947 and whose writings on Satanism and the Occult
largely inspired La Vey's "church". In the atmosphere of protest that developed
around the 1968 movements, interest in all forms of transgressive behavior
increased in Italy as well as elsewhere. Newly reimported, the phenomenon of
Satanism began to spread in Italy once again. As the crisis within Marxism grew
progressively more acute during the 1980s, finally leading to the collapse of
regimes in eastern Europe, the ground became increasingly fertile for it and it
is now spreading on an alarming scale.
Turin is no longer an isolated spot on the map of Satanism. In recent years
Bologna has also earned the name of "satanic city". The administrative center of
the region of Emilia and its surrounding countryside have witnessed episodes of
profanation of churches and cemeteries and the celebration of black masses.
During these rituals, which follow an inverted version of the canons of a
Catholic mass, the devil is invoked and the Eucharist profaned, but there is
also a great deal of sexual activity. And sometimes crimes proper are committed.
The Bolognese judiciary has been investigating and the magistrates in charge
have announced dramatic revelations to be made public soon.
Meanwhile Father Gabriele Amorth, the official diocesan exorcist, has recently
declared that "Rome is currently the most satanized city in Italy". Apart from
the city itself the phenomenon - a phenomenon foreign to the traditional culture
of the Eternal City and imported from outside - centers on the surrounding
known as the "Castelli Romani". What are the reasons for the large-scale spread
of these rituals within the capital? In an interview last year. Father Amorth
offered the following explanation: "I'd say that in general the presence of the
Pope at Castel Gandolfo (in the Castelli Romani), and not only there but also in
Rome, the center of Christianity, is more than a secondary attraction for all
those intent on countering faith".
The recent focus on the question by Italian Church hierarchy also suggests that
Satanism is now spreading among ordinary people. In collaboration with the
Italian Group for Research and Information on Sects (GRIS) and the University of
Bologna, the Episcopal Conference is backing a nationwide survey on the subject
of religious sentiment. The declared aim is to provide a map of these phenomena
This article was taken from the No. 5, 1996 issue of "30Days".