A poll conducted in 2014 showed that 3/4 (75%) of Italians consider themselves Catholics believers and 10% of them feel spiritual and believe in the existence of a superior entity, yet do not associate themselves with any organized religion, whereas 5% are affiliated to different creeds.
Atheists and agnostic
The remaining 10% of Italians are equally divided between atheists (who do not believe in the existence of any type of superior spiritual entity) and agnostic (who feel the existence of God can be neither proven nor denied).
The growth of multiculturalism in the country and the increase of immigration from countries culturally very different from Italy has enhanced the presence of creeds. Nowadays, Islam and Buddhism, new to the country, are practiced side by side with Hebraism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy which, on the other hand, have been followed for centuries. The topic of multiculturalism and the diffusion in Italy of different creeds beside Catholicism is among the most interesting and, today, most sensitive to treat.
Each segment of human life was controlled and protected by one specific god during the times of Roman Empire. This was typical of ancient polytheistic religions, because they were not only a manner to give structure to spirituality, but had been also unconsciously developed by mankind to provide an explanation to what was then unexplainable, especially in the realm of nature: the winds were caused by a god, just as the rising of the sun and the shining of the moon.
Although the official Roman pantheon was respected and embraced by all, other forms of worship were common among the citizens of the Empire. The cult of the dead was especially widespread, as it was that of the Penates: these were similar to the Christian guardian angels, and were considered the protectors of families and households.
Romans were largely – and usually– religiously tolerant: they left freedom of cult to all people conquered and it was not until the coming of Christianity that bona fide religious persecutions took place in the Empire. But in Rome, religion was different from spirituality. The cult of the Emperor was paramount and essential and was the most important of all forms of worship.