Located in the neighborhood of Little Italy, the church of Madonna Della Difesa is but one among a large number of churches in Montreal, which has acquired the nickname of “City of 100 Bell Towers.” What sets this particular church apart, other than its impressive Romanesque architecture, is the fact that one of the frescoes depicts former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

This mural was completed in 1933, years before the start of World War II. Back then, Mussolini was still somewhat admired for his strong leadership, even by North American politicians. He also gained a large following in the Italian diaspora around the world as he was seen by many as a savior and a uniting force for Italy. The fresco in the Madonna Della Difresa church commemorates an important pre-war moment during  Mussolini’s rule: the 1929 signing of the Lateran Treaty where the sovereign state of the Vatican was created.

The church’s artist, Guido Nincheri, hadn’t included Mussolini in the original plans for the frescoes. It was the clergy that requested the Duce be fitted somewhere among the portraits of saints, religious figures and important Italian figures (such as inventor Guglielmo Marconi). He obliged and when the war started, he was jailed for three months due to his supposed fascist sympathies (which were never actually confirmed).

During World War II, the controversial fresco was covered by a tarp.  In the years following the war people tried to have it removed but never managed to. Just last week, another petition was started in order to denounce what is seen as an homage to fascism.


3 thoughts on “Why is Benito Mussolini Featured in a Church Fresco in Montreal?

  1. They left it there because Italy culturally is a bigoted shithole where authority always has to be respected even though it spits in your face and the church has always been the eager dog of theh ruling power or of whoever donated them money. I am Italian myself but as I soon as I get my Master degree I am out of this (still) fascist and backwards nation.

    1. I am embarrassed for the Italian community. It’s one more reminder that the Vatican has far more to do with politics and money than with Christianity. If the current Pope was truly a radical he would have put the child abusers and their facilitators in jail, allowed women to become priests and certainly have gotten rid of that Mussolini painting . “Today, after so many years, people think it’s not appropriate, but you have to go back to those days,” said Basilio Giordano, editor of the Il Cittadino Canadese, a Montreal Italian-language weekly. “If you don’t know the history, you just see an ex-dictator and you’re scandalized.” …That to me is a pure rationalization. Fascism is quintessentially anti-Christian.

    2. I’m commenting only to say that in three years I hope Lorenzo is now very far from our beautiful Country. I, as an Italian, for once welcome his words as good news because we Italians don’t need people like his kind who carry revolting and deranged ideas like one would carry a disease. There are too many of his kind still leeching here but luckily things are now changing, the winds are not in their favour anymore and they are becoming ridiculously pathetic and irrelevant caricatures. I therefore wish him a good life as far as possible from here. While in the event he is still afflicting our Country with his presence to this day I would politely remind him of his hypocrisy and would love to help him to disappear from here since his kind is never welcomed.

Comments are closed.