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

The History of the Baptists in Italy


The first years

The first Baptist churches were established in Italy as a result of the work of English and American missionaries. This is the first real fact of our history. At first, this produced a considerable limitation. The missionaries brought theological and cultural standards evolved and developed in their countries of origin. Their interest, per es. in the Italian political situation was functional, that is to say, they analysed it to see if it was favourable or not to the growth of their work. The only goal of the missionaries was to evangelize Italy and everything else was functional for this scope.

The first missionaries who arrived in Italy were two Englishmen, Edward Clarke and James Wall. In 1865 Edward Clarke settled in La Spezia and founded “La Spezia Mission”; James Wall founded in Bologna in 1863 a mission which later on became the work of the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) of London. In 1870 the first Baptist missionary of the Southern Convention (USA), William Cote, arrived and he established the first Baptist church in Rome in 1871. The second missionary from the Southern Convention, G.B. Taylor, a very capable man, arrived in Italy in 1873 and gave a strong impulse to the expansion of the Baptist church in the period of formation.

From the initial group in La Spezia, the work of “La Spezia Mission” spread to Tuscany, then Emilia and Veneto. The Mission was transferred to Rome in 1870 and developed in Turin, Naples, Genoa and Val di Susa reaching a total number of 20 churches and groups. The American Baptist Mission begun in Rome by Cote and organized in 1873 by Taylor spread to Puglia, Basilicata,Lombardy, Piedmont, Calabria, Sardinia and the Syracusan area. Complessively, about 50 churches and groups were established in various localities. These churches and groups were small,hardly more than 50 people. The majority of the members were farmers or unskilled workers. In this first phase about 20 Italians constituted the ministry of the local churches, many of whom came from the Free church, while the missionaries directed the functions of administration, government and organization of the mission and work. This geographical distribution of the Baptist churches in Italy, curiously, has remained practically unchanged. The result of this missionary work was the creation of a network of communities. In 1884, so as to better coordinate the evangelical work the three missions constituted the Christian Apostolic Baptist Union. In 1922, The Baptist Mission of London left Italy following agreements made with the American baptists.