SPECIAL EXHIBITORS: FOCUS ON CHURCH AND LITURGY
Italy has always been a world leader in the production of church pews, altars, pulpits and furnishings made to decorate and embellish places of worship in many catholic countries. Liturgical objects like sacred vessels, vestments (for the altar and for the celebrant) and the so-called ‘consumable products for liturgy’, like candles, incense, hosts and wine for the mass are part of the production. This article will focus on the origins of the production, the major exporting countries and the views of some leader manufacturers about the current situation and their forecast for the future.
The production of furniture and equipment for worship dates back to the first Christian communities, which in not time went from Eucharistic celebrations in private houses using common, everyday life objects, to the designation of specific locations for the ceremonies. At the same time, comes the need to find appropriate materials and shapes to make the objects for the celebration of the mass. From the seventh century onward, the first liturgical regulations on production came into use. The indications concerned symbols and materials, and these last had to be precious and appropriate to the purpose.
If what distinguished objects and furniture formerly were the rich materials, nowadays simplicity, ‘clean lines’ and hand production make the difference. This is how liturgical objects and furniture have become throughout the years the external expression of faith and of the importance of liturgy, thanks to their beauty, high quality and preciousness.
FEATURES OF THE SECTOR
Trying to determine the exact number of national producers specialized in sacred furnishings and consumable products for liturgy is not easy. Such companies are often very small, sometimes true artisan laboratories employing less than five people and, often, they are entirely family-run businesses. Notwithstanding this, what emerges clearly is the superior quality of national production and the undisputed expertise of artisans and companies of the sector. This is reflected in high demand of Italian products from all over the world.
The main export markets for the products Made in Italy are European countries such as Germany, France, Spain and United Kingdom. United States, Canada and South America, countries of long Catholic tradition, are good and loyal customers too. In addition, other export areas are Philipines, Corea and countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa, where Catholicism is expanding the recent years.
The most requested products for the export are the consumables, such as incense that produce an annual turnover of 59 million euros, tapers and candles, that reach 22 million and hosts, whose annual export is worth 2 million. The situation is different for the Italian manufacturers of vestments and sacred vessels, whose primacy in recent years has been undercut by countries such as Pakistan and India, where the initial stages of production take place. Then, they ship the items to Italy for finishing. Italian companies still keep a fundamental significance in the manufacturing of sacred furnishings such as church pews, altars and pulpits and in wood, marble and bronze statuary, this due to the complex manufacturing, often following very ancient techniques. This is, once again, further proof of the virtuosity and expertise of our professionals.
WORD TO THE COMPANIES
In the following lines, Roberto Koliotassis from the company Koras Srl and Tenuta S. Giorgio, both located in Torre di Mosto (Treviso), tells us how they are facing the current difficulties and identifies the solutions and strategies for a complete and effective recovery of the sector.
1) How are you facing the current situation of emergency inside the company?
“The current crisis has caught almost all the companies off-guard. Many of us were unprepared to face such new, high-risk situation. Our primary goal is to safeguard the health of our customers, partners and employees. For this reason, we decided to close down the factory for the moment.”
2) Do the downturns or cancellations of orders, if there are any, concern Italy or abroad?
“For what concerns our production, the main decrease is affecting orders from Italian customers.”
3) Which are the strategies you think is useful to put in place now and which are the opportunities to be seized in the next months for the economic recovery of the sector? Among these, how do you consider the participation to Koinè next October 2020?
“The next edition of Koine will surely represent the opportunity to relaunch the entire sector. One of the aspects to take care of will be, in my opinion, to guarantee the participation of the visitors to the event, in compliance with the rules for everyone’s safety.”
4) Which are the main markets for you in terms of geographical areas and types of clients?
“Our customers are primarily located in Italy, in many different areas and regions. They are principally parishes and sanctuaries.”
The best national and international manufacturers of furnishings for the church and liturgical objects are waiting for you at Koinè, from 25th to 27 October 2020 in Vicenza. We will start again all together, betting on the expertise of the professionals and the quality of production, key factors for the sector.
FInd out the exhibitors of the next edition of Koinè : Exhibitors preview
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