This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience.

The History of our Church in Milan

The beginning: 1872-1903

In 1873 a group of about 20 people left the Free Church of Milan and guided by Pastor Oscar Cocarda founded the first Baptist community in the city. The reasons for our forefathers' faith are three: they were convinced that believers must be baptised, they had a different understanding of the pastoral ministry and hoped for a congregational organization of the church.

We would like to point out here that the Italian Free Evangelical Church is an 18th century tentative to create a protestant church entirely Italian following the ideals of the political Risorgimento based on standards, for the most part, anticlerical and Garibaldian.

In 1875 a young Pastor was appointed in Milan: Enrico Paschetto. Under his guidance the community grew in numbers and activities and a more central place was found. The place of worship was in Via del Pesce 39 (today Via Paolo di Cannobbio).mappa-diaz The district then was very different: popular, somewhat ill-famed with little winding streets. New baptisms of Catholics followed every year and a Sunday School for children was opened and teaching hymns was begun. Also some Catholic parents sent their children to the Sunday School, a very rare thing in Milan. Many members helped the Pastor with his activity, among whom a certain Angelo Barni, a humble, uncultured blacksmith; he became a tireless evangelizer and deacon and was an assiduous and studious reader of the Bible and a true pillar of the young community. Paschetto's activity in Milan extended beyond the pastoral field, in fact, exactly in that period he was called to teach Hebrew at the International Linguistic Institute.

In 1881, Pastor Giuseppe Colombo arrived. He remained only two years in Milan and organized the Church Council. In 1883, Pastor Nicola Papengouth arrived in Milan, a gentleman by birth and education. He was the son of a Dutchman, an officer of the Russian navy, and a Polish woman. He was born in Odessa on the 15th of June, 1858 and was baptised in Paris in the Seine. Here he studied painting and then passed to classical and theological studies in Switzerland. Then he followed his father to Naples where he helped with the work of evangelizing. He is remembered as a refined, open, generous man, a little eccentric. The little community grew among a thousand difficulties; in 1889, there were 33 members and a lively Sunday School. It was Nicola Papengouth who had the intuition to begin evangelizing together with other evangelical churches then present in Milan (Waldenian, Methodist and Free Church). Thus a “Milanese Evangelical Christian Circle” was founded and a “Society for Mutual Assistance and Charity of Evangelical Christians in Milan”. They began holding services and reunions together.