|Feast of St. Mark (Festa di San Marco)|
On April 25, while most of Italy is celebrating the Feast of the so-called “Liberation”, the Julian-Dalmatian exiles are celebrating another feast: that of St. Mark.
Official mainstream historiography, written by the victors of war, depicts April 25 as a day of joy and celebration, a day which represents the liberation of Italy from Fascism, the reintroduction of democracy and Italian freedom, and the end of the Second World War. Such an interpretation ignores the terrible crimes and atrocities committed by the Allied Powers in Italy, the brutal violence and massacres perpetrated by the bands of partisan terrorists, the many persecutions conducted by the Communists, the Allied restoration of the Mafia, and the silent war that carried on in many Italian regions even after the official cessation of hostilities.
Not to mention the de facto loss of Italian sovereignty that took place a result of the occupation of Italy by the Allies – an occupation which reduced Italy to political and economic slavery. It is a precarious – and rarely spoken of – political situation that continues today (there are now more than 100 U.S. military bases on Italian soil, an open demonstration of ongoing foreign occupation).
Was April 25th truly a liberation? Let’s recount a few historical facts:
- Was it a “liberation” for the 1,000 Italian civilians killed in Bari on December 2, 1943 as a result of illegal poison gas secretly smuggled into Italy by the Allies?
- Was it a “liberation” for the 3,000 men, women and children raped and sodomized near Monte Cassino by French Moroccan troops during the Marocchinate in May-June 1944?
- Was it a “liberation” for the 614 school children and civilians of Milan, killed by American bombers in the Gorla Massacre on October 20, 1944?
- Was it a “liberation” for the hundreds of Catholic priests and religious slaughtered by the Communist Partisans between 1943 and 1947?
- Was it a “liberation” for the city of Trieste, whose population was terrorized by the Yugoslavs, and which remained under Allied occupation until October 26, 1954?
- Was it a “liberation” for the 20,000-30,000 civilians slaughtered in the Foibe Massacres and the 350,000 Italians forced into exile between 1943 and 1954?
For the Italians of Istria and Dalmatia, April 25th represents genocide, deportation to concentration camps, the massacre of thousands of Italian civilians, the rape, torture, persecution and terror suffered at the hands of the Yugoslav Partisans, the occupation and annexation of Istria and Dalmatia by the Yugoslav Communists, and the expulsion of Italians from their native homeland.
Asking the Italians of Istria, Dalmatia and the Quarnaro to celebrate such events by observing April 25 as a “Day of Liberation” is the same as asking the Jews and Poles to observe September 1 in celebration of the Invasion and Occupation of Poland.
Therefore, Julian-Dalmatian Exiles look to another April 25th: the feast of St. Mark.
The Feast of St. Mark is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church, observed universally by the whole church on April 25. Although celebrated throughout the world, the feast is celebrated most energetically in the city of Venice. It almost carries the status of a national feast. St. Mark has always had a special place among the Venetians: he is the patron of the city, and the famous Lion of St. Mark – the ancient symbol of the Republic of Venice – is none other than a symbolic representation Venice's great patron saint.
Every place the Venetians went, they carried with them the Lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venetian civilization. In Istria and Dalmatia the palaces, churches and fortresses proudly displayed the Venetian Lion of San Marco. Despite the attempts of the Slavs to dismantle or chisel them away since occupying and partitioning that territory after the war, these lions are still present today, and bear witness to the Italic roots of the culture, history and language of that region.
St. Mark, with all he represents, thus hold a very dear place in the hearts of the Julian-Dalmatian Italians, most of whom are still living in exile in Italy. For them, their hearts and minds are now turned to him on April 25th; not to the disgraceful Day of “Liberation”, but to San Marco, the sacred patron and representative of the culture and civilization of their lost homeland, which today is at the mercy of Croatian and Slovenian occupiers.