"MORMONS IN THE PIAZZA: History of the Latter-day Saints in Italy," by James A. Toronto, Eric R. Dursteler and Michael W. Homer, BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, $34.99, 632 pages (nf)
Missionaries first began preaching the gospel in Italy in 1850 in an effort led by Lorenzo Snow, who was later the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There was a great deal of excitement about preaching the gospel in a land with ties to the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament, but a reality of stymied growth soon beset the effort.
A number of issues eventually resulted in missionaries leaving the country for nearly a century.
The LDS Church received formal legal status in 1993 and missionaries returned. Bit by bit, the membership strengthened and grew to more than 25,000 with a temple under construction.
“Mormons in the Piazza: History of the Latter-day Saints in Italy” is one of the most comprehensive histories of the Latter-day Saints in Italy.
The authors place special focus on the perspective of Italians and provide a number of reasons for the growth of the church in Italy, including a “shifting constellation of factors” that include spiritual appeal, politics, a capacity for adaptation and individual religious proclivities.
The three authors served missions in Italy. James A. Toronto has a doctorate in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, teaches at Brigham Young University and served as President of the Italy Catania Mission from 2007-10 and the Central Eurasia Mission from 2015-17. Eric R. Dursteler has a doctorate from Brown University and is a professor and chair of the history department at BYU. Michael W. Homer is an attorney and independent historian who has received several awards for his publications.
Kurt Manwaring, MPA, is a nonprofit consultant in Taylorsville, Utah. He served a mission in Rome, Italy, and maintains a personal blog at kurtsperspective.blogspot.com.