Churches without bells in Fascist Italy

Academic Article


  • This article examines how Fascism’s economic autarky impacted on church construction in the late 1930s. The shortage of copper in Italy due to sanctions imposed by the League of Nations and the ensuing Italian policy of self-sufficiency led to the installation of loudspeakers instead of bells in newly erected churches. The amplified sound of recordings and of tubular bells could be heard from far greater distances than that of traditional bells. Although these technologies disregarded the Catholic Church’s directives on utilising modern technical equipment in liturgy, their use was tolerated because of the economic circumstances. Indeed, some clergy endorsed these sound systems as a means of modernising the Church and as an act of patriotism. The practice, however, risked conflating ecclesiastical and Fascist broadcasts since the use of loudspeakers for political propaganda was widespread. In one case, the Fascist anthemGiovinezzawas played regularly from a church belfry: after the war, furious citizens destroyed this audio system. The decision by dioceses as to whether to adopt technological alternatives to bells exposed the conflicting positions within the Church towards both modernity and the Regime.
  • Authors

  • Garofalo, Piero
  • Farabegoli, Giorgio
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 2019
  • Published In

  • Modern Italy  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Church-State relations
  • Fascism
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • autarky
  • propaganda
  • sound technology
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 245
  • End Page

  • 264
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 3