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This week’s issue is dedicated to the worship of devotional images and objects; these symbols of faith and devotion have a very ancient history and still today, you can find them in the houses of many worshipers. Once again, we will discover the roots, the evolution throughout the years and the features of devotional articles with a special focus on the main sector players: Italian manufacturers.




Devotional objects have always been the symbol of the divine that is closest to humanity in everyday life. We need only think of how many people keep holy images, crosses or small statues in their house, car, office whether they are devotee or atheist, practicing Catholics or not. These symbols identify our faith and worship of something higher.

Since Roman and Greek times, Pagans used to place some reproductions and images of their gods in their houses, countryside and farmlands, in order to get protection and plentiful harvests. Later, in Christian times, the Council of Nicaea in 787 AD definitely ratified the worship of images in sacred buildings and from mid-15th century, the Council of Trento legitimized the reverence of sacred images in private houses in favor of a faith closer to the people. From that moment on, there is a proliferation of holy images, on-wall crosses and small statues of the Virgin Maria or Saint Joseph or representing the many saints of Catholicism. 



The sector of devotional articles in Italy counts on more than 3000 manufacturers, ranging from medium to small size, which are often family-run craft businesses. Over the years, the different productive areas have specialized more and more, thus giving life to real productive districts. Rosaries produced in the Marche region, especially in the area of Loreto, have become famous and much appreciated all over the world.

The area of Naples and the center of Capodimonte have become famous thanks to hand-painted porcelain figurines and traditional cribs, still crafted in the small shops in San Gregorio Armeno.  The best papier-mache nativity scenes are typical of the area around the city of Lecce, while Bagni di Lucca, in Tuscany, is among the main areas for the manufacturing of ceramic devotional objects. Furthermore, all the mentioned areas host important churches and sanctuaries, places of pilgrimage for many worshipers from all over the world.

The main attraction of our country is, of course, Rome; every year, millions of faithful visit the heart of Christendom and the majority buy at least some sacred souvenir or gadget. According to Registro Imprese, in Italy there are more than 700 shops specializing in selling devotional articles, of which more than one hundred are based in Rome due to the presence of the Vatican. Other cities with an important presence of specialized retailers are Naples with 47 shops and Foggia with 42. Bergamo is the first city in the north of Italy for shops figures (35), followed by Padua, the city of St. Anthony (32), and Venice (23). 

Despite increasingly fierce competition from countries like China, Made in Italy production is the best known and the most appreciated abroad for its quality and design. The buyers of these products come both from European countries such as Bosnia, Portugal, France and Spain, where many important sanctuaries are located, and from Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Philippines. United States, Canada and South America confirm as good customers and countries from the African continent such as Nigeria are emerging as new interesting areas thanks to many religious missionary congregations. 



At a time of uncertainty like this, quality and expertise in production become even more important. Here below is a brief talk with Andrea Bonella, from the company Fratelli Bonella, on how to enhance and promote their strengths in order to start again as soon as possible:

1 How are you facing the current situation of emergency inside the company?

I guess we are facing these months like many other Italian companies, with a little bit of anxiety and doubts. Unfortunately, once again we had confirmation of how difficult it is to do business in Italy now. Politics has made many promises at press conferences and on social networks, which they have not kept yet.  

2 Do the downturns or cancellations of orders, if there are any, concern Italy or abroad?

We had many cancellations of orders for what concerns the internal market, while as for export we have received requests of postponements to a later date for orders ready to be shipped. We have also experienced the lack of seasonal orders, which we were expecting.     

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?

We think that, for the moment, the only strategy is to wait and try to limit damage. We believe that next edition of Koinè in October might be the perfect occasion of recovery only if the emergency is over and we can count on a significant participation of buyers from abroad. Otherwise, it might be better to postpone the event.  

4)         Which are the main markets for you in terms of geographical areas and types of clients? 

For what concerns the export, we sell mainly in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and Latin America. As for the domestic market, our portfolio of clients is made of bookshops and specialized retailers.

Right now, the basic element on which to focus is to bring buyers and sellers together in every way possible for a quick restart of the business. Koinè is at the forefront in supporting our customers’ business thanks to many innovative tools, which we will make available to the companies.

New business strategies and technology go hand in hand, aiming to bring to Koinè, from 25 to 27 October 2020, the main national and international professionals of the sector. 

Find out the exhibitors preview: EXHIBITORS' LIST


To participate at the next edition of Koinè: register yourself!


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