(Published in La Rassegna nazionale, 1941)
by Ugo Ciuchini
In the present time every Italian of the home front, whatever place he occupies in the social hierarchy, must have a greater sense of responsibility and justice, and indeed feel more alive, in his dealings with fellow citizens, that sense of human brotherhood, which is not only a Christian duty, but the spontaneous expression of national and racial solidarity, cemented now by the blood spilled by our generous brothers on the battlefield.
In order to win the war we need austere virtue, not the unleashing of vulgar passions.
Let us recall the words of Marshal Pétain and the other French patriots before the disaster of France: "The defeat was due to the pleasure-loving spirit of the French, to their neglect of a moral conscience and honesty."
We must use all our spiritual and moral resources. At the forefront of these is the religious sentiment of the Italian people, the religious sentiment that we were nursed with on our mothers knee, and which is the purest and noblest heritage we have received from our fathers.
Let us imitate the example of our ancestors, beginning with the ancient Romans, who Livy calls "men filled with religion, who did not undertake any civil or military venture without having propitiated the gods with sacrifices and without consulting the priests." Let us remember that one of the primary reasons for the happiness of the Republic, as Machiavelli noted in Chapter XI of his "Discourses on Livy", was the deep fear of God by many of the people.
The Italian people — the heir of the Roman people — is intimately Catholic; and, also looking at things from a simply pragmatistic point of view (when the light of faith is not shining in the soul), it is necessary to capitalize on this most powerful spring of religious feeling.
This, combined and fused with the love of Fatherland, creates miracles of superhuman fortitude and heroism, like that of the Alcazar. Franco's Spain was able to break free from the twist of the Red hydra, because aided by Mussolini's Italy and by the profound Catholic faith which animated his soldiers, who knew how to truly fight "pro aris et focis" (for God and country).
"Italy is Catholic, immutably Catholic in her tradition and in her instinct..." (Alfredo Oriani). Italy is Catholic by right and by fact, Catholic in mind and in heart.
Fascism from the outset understood the importance of harmony between the sentiment of Fatherland and the sentiment of Religion of the Italians.
Italy, which has the immense privilege of having in her bosom the Chair of St. Peter, knows its vocation.
While remaining in a distinct field and autonomous of its civil, political and economic realizations, in the designs of Providence it is destined to cooperate in the restoring and civilizing work of the Church over Europe and the world; especially by the effectiveness of example, realizing its own political life and Christian social order as it does now, brandishing the sword against Bolshevism—the denier of all Christian and civil principles.
Owing to close links existing between Italy and the Church, the cause of Italy, which recognizes its own vocation, becomes the cause of God (and the cause of God always ends in triumph); to fight for the Fatherland is to fight also for the Faith of the Fatherland, "pro aris et focis" (for God and country), according to the classical Roman motto; it is to fight for a better Europe, more harmonious, more just and happier; it is to fight for Christ. Europe "has needs and is thirsting for a new inner discipline and a new spiritual unity" and "no one can say what to prepare to history the magnificent Christian vitality." (Alfredo Oriani).
For the regeneration of Europe it is necessary to reconstruct intellectual and moral unity (the remote—but fundamental—cause of the current war is due precisely to this lack of spiritual unity, based on a single criterion of morality and justice universally accepted); this arduous task can not be accomplished without Rome, to which all European nations can look towards with confidence, as that which always keeps alive and vital the ferments (Christianity and Romanity) which previously, having merged with the peculiarities of the strong and loyal Germanic race, produced European civilization.
And a civilization, as acutely observed by the Secretary of the Florentine Republic (Book III, Chapter I, of the "Discourses on Livy") does not regenerate by reducing its principles. The biggest problem of the unitary reconstruction of the Europe of tomorrow is to unite Latinity and Germanism. And this union, while remaining distinct — each of the two worlds with their particular characteristics — may be accomplished, in an intimate and permanent way, under a "unified religious conception", which Hitler (Mein Kampf) lamented as missing in modern society and considered it necessary, because "for the masses, faith is almost always the only foundation of a moral conception of the world", and without moral foundations the world can not exist.
The history of Rome itself teaches us that empires are formed not only by the sword, but also with virtue, and that when there is no virtue, they become corrupt and come apart.
This means that the Cross in the center of the flag must not be a mere heraldic symbol, but the expression of an entire program.
Already in 1830 Ciro Menotti in his plan of the revolutionary movement entitled "Ideas for organizing the intellegences of all the cities of Italy for their independence, unity and freedom," he stated that "the banner of three colors, green, red and white" which was to be the flag of the regenerated Italy, was "also composed of the Cross", because it is (these are his own words) "the symbol of Liberty and of Religion".
The evidence demonstrates that, since the beginning of the Risorgimento, the holy ideals of Fatherland and Religion were inextricably united in the hearts of the vast majority of those who aspired and conspired for the independence and unity of Italy.
It was always the radiant ideal of the divine Alighieri, perennial interpreter and tutelary genius of the Italian race, which dominates our history: the ideal symbolized by the union of the Aquila and the Cross.
As with Dante, love for the Fatherland and love for Christ has always been united in the heart of the Italian people, whom "in its flower never withered" — as writes Giovanni Papini — "was more Dantesque" than many of his representatives.
And therefore the union of the Fasces and the Cross, symbols of the universal ideas of law and of God, is sealed in the fate of Italy and the Europe of tomorrow; because the new world that will emerge from the war will be the harmonization of Fascism and Christianity, that is, from the union of justice and love, the only two principles capable of reorganizing the world of tomorrow.
The Fasces and the Cross, symbolizing Romanism and Catholicism, are and forever will be — so long as Italy will be as the genius of the Duce is today, at the height of its destiny — the ideals that will guide her to true greatness.
The Emperor Constantine, after impressing on the shields and banners of his legionaries the Cross of Christ, "ad Saxa rubra" defeated Maxentius; and from that day, in which the Fasces and the Roman Aquila were joined to the Cross, there appeared in the world the most splendid of auroras, the dawn of Christian civilization.
In this grave hour for the fate of the Fatherland and European civilization, let us look up.
In the bluish skies of Italy there is still ideally shining, radiant with superhuman splendors and consoling as a divine promise, the Cross that appeared to Constantine...
O Italy, "in hoc signo vinces" — in this sign you shall conquer.