Italy, Movimento Tradizionale Romano
Presentation and report by the Movimento Tradizionale Romano (M.T.R.)
Following the suppression of the ancient cults at the hands of the Catholic authorities, , as other countries of
Europe , witnessed the survival of pagan elements in the folk customs, celebrations and agricultural rites of its lower classes. Yet Greek and Roman paganism, which was so deeply entrenched in the cultural identity of the Roman and Italian elite, was preserved in various forms, manifesting itself in ways which are not always easy to define from a historical perspective. It appears that there have always been pagan elites in
; and this is due chiefly to the continuity of Greek and Latin culture in our country, a culture which transmitted the pagan philosophy of Platonism (which is itself deeply connected to alchemical esotericism). Aspects of this philosophical and esoteric paganism can be found in the Middle Ages in the thought of emperor Frederick II, king of
Sicily , and of his son Manfred, both of whom were excommunicated by the Catholic Church. Pagan elements can also be traced in the writing of Ghibelline authors like Dante and Cecco d’Ascoli (who was later burned at the stake).
It is at the time of the Renaissance, however – that is: when the religious power of the Middle Ages lost part of its hold, before being renewed by the Reformation and Counterreformation –that a more explicit kind of paganism emerged. It is in this period that and
discovered their ancient, pre-Christian spiritual bond, when the pagan sage George Gemistios Plathon reached the court of the Medici, and both Italian princes and men of letters were deeply influenced by pagan Neoplatonism (a matter of concern for the Catholic Church). The Rome of the popes witnessed the birth of the so-called
Academy , whose leader, the Humanist Pomponius Leto, performed Roman rites in the ancient catacombs with the title of pontifex maximus. In 1468 Leto and his men were imprisoned and tortured by order of the pope. The Greek and Latin classics which were again discovered in the Renaissance period revealed treasures of ancient wisdom and provided many examples of rites and prayers which any learned Italian could now adopt: the way was paved for the return of Roman worship.
The turn of the XIX century witnessed the re-emergence of the ancient
School under the guidance of Amedeo Armentano (1886-1966) and Arturo Reghini (1878-1946). In 1928, on the pages of UR (a magazine published by an esoteric group of the same name), Reghini will write that the secret chain of pagan religious wisdom in and
had never been broken. In Rome, an archaeologist of international renown, Giacomo Boni (1859-1925), while excavating the ancient monuments of the Forum and Palatine hill, reverted himself to the prayers and offerings of the ancient Romans, and exhorted the
State to take the Roman past as its model. Again in 1928, the philosopher Julius Evola (1889-1974) published a book entitled “Imperialismo pagano” (kr “Pagan Imperialism”), in which he sought to deter the new Fascist regime, who had adopted the Roman fasces as its symbol, from compromising with the Catholic Church. For many years after 1929 there will be little talk of paganism in . But at the beginning of the 1970s a new group emerged between Rome, Naples and Messina, the so-called Gruppo dei Dioscuri, which was inspired by
Rome ’s mythical past and performed a series of rites based on the idea of a “return of Vesta’s fire”. This group will then provide the basis for the establishment of the Centre for Traditional Studies “Arx” at Messina, in
Sicily , in the 1980s. The Arx centre, directed by Salvatore Ruta, will begin the publication of “La Cittadella” magazine.
In 1981 "Arthos", the magazine run by Renato del Ponte (a scholar of ancient Roman and Italian religion later known for his books Dei e miti italici (1985) and La religione dei Romani (1993)), organized a public meeting with the help of other magazines and organizations active at the time. The meeting was held at Cortona, an ancient Italian holy site, on the 1st of March (the first day of the Roman sacred calendar). The purpose of the meeting was that of bringing Roman Tradition to the attention of various spiritualist groups of the country. A second meeting was then held at
Messina in December on the subject of "Virgil and The Sacred". Between 1985 and 1988 three other meetings followed in
Sicily (the 1st, 2nd and 3rd "Conventum Italicum"), which were led by the representatives of three communities following the "Roman Path to the Gods": Salvatore Ruta, Renato del Ponte and Roberto Incardona. By the end of these meetings, the "Movimento Tradizionale Romano" had been born, an organization soon to become the most significant pagan group in contemporary . In 1992, at the 4th "Conventum italicum" at Forlì, the "Curia Romana Patrum" (C.R.P.) was established as the doctrinal and ritual guide of the MTR. Following this decision, a common Kalendarium was chosen, marking the essential days in which community and private rituals are to take place, as well as marriages according to the rules of the ancient "confarreatio" or "Comunione del farro" [Communion of spelt]. Today the M.T.R. consists of four gentes. From north to south: the "Pico-Martia" (pater Renato Del Ponte), the "Iulia-Primigenia" (pater Daniele Liotta), the "Castoria" (pater Roberto Incardona) and the "Aurelia" (pater Sandro Consolato, who took the place of Salvatore Ruta, passed away in 2002).
Renato del Ponte has the role of Princeps or Magister, or head of the Cura Romana Patrum and of the whole Movement, which is nevertheless based on a federal structure. The Movement issues its own magazine, “La Cittadella”, and runs two internet websites (http://www.saturniatellus.com e http://www.lacittadella-mtr.com). Although its representatives, its activities and its publications have undoubtedly been acknowledged by at least part of the Italian cultural establishment, is a country deeply conditioned both by the Catholic Church and by a rationalist, materialist and secular culture. Being pagan in is not easy. Our spiritual life is centred on cult, which is still described as ‘private’ even when it is held in a communal setting: as the religion of the Romans was first and foremost the religion of the
State (one has always to bear in mind that the priests of
Rome were its magistrates), a full restoration of Roman religion could only take place by the establishment of a public cult run by the State. Our private cult, not unlike public cult, is determined by the ancient Roman calendar, with its Kalendae, Nonae and Ides. Within the MTR rites consist of an offering made to the Gods (and it is worth pointing out that what is offered here are incense, herbs and food, and that ritual does not entail the sacrifice of animals). The rite is performed with sobriety and in ways compatible to modern living. One day is held particularly sacred in our religious calendar, and that is the 21st of April, the day in which
Rome was founded. We celebrate this day publicly (at least to some extent), among the ancient ruins of the city. Other important dates are those of the Solstices, which each of our communities celebrates in its own way. For the 2006 Solstice, we were invited to
Olympus by our Greek brothers of the YSEE. We were most pleased by this meeting. And we are most pleased to be in Latvia today, with fellow pagans from other countries, here to celebrate the return of our ancestors’ cults, which for so long have not seen the light of the Sun we all cherish and worship.
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