With the approaching 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy successfully led a petition for Rome, Italy to recognize Martin Luther, who sparked the Protestant Reformation.
On October 31, 1517, Luther, a German monk, affixed 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, and in doing so, laid the foundation of the greatest schism that has ever shaken western Christianity.
On January 3, 1521, Luther received the papal bull of excommunication, issued by Pope Leo X. And now, nearly half a century after the revolutionary action, an official recognition will granted to Luther by the city of Rome.
"In 2009, unbeknownst to each other, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Lutheran Church issued an application to the City of Rome, asking to name a square of the city ‘Martin Luther,’” said Dora Bognandi, former director of public affairs and religious liberty of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy, based in Rome.
Bognandi tenaciously fought for the recognition. “Thanks to the commitment of Dora Bognandi, a major Italian newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ recently attributed to the Adventists the whole initiative," said David Romano, current director of public affairs and religious liberty in Italy.
Early in the process, the office in charge of the urban road structure in Rome responded positively but failed to move the process forward.
"The State Council of all Churches in the Roman territory, in which Adventists are strong members and wise promoters, took the situation in hand,” said Bognandi. “We met several times with the municipal councilors, with the office in charge. We wrote several letters, until at the end of the year 2014 when we were told that the request had been granted and had to be finally approved by the City Council. "
Six years have passed since the first request “advanced to the Capitol by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, made in June 2009, to the dedicated Committee of Rome, in view of the 500th anniversary of the historic visit to Rome made by Luther," according to ‘La Repubblica’.
The official naming of the square in Colle Oppio Park, which is near the Coliseum, will take place on September 16, in order to allow to the Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Roberto Marino, to be present and to honor the event.
"I think it will be a place where evangelicals and Protestants will feel at home and will promote important activities," said Bognandi.
Representatives of various Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, and representatives of non-Christian religions are planning to attend the ceremony. “Because this is an important moment for all minorities,” said Romano. "We will present ourselves, and I hope also many members of our Adventist church will be there with me.”