Mt. Carmel St. Cristina Society

Benito Mussolini and the Sin of Pride

The rise of Fascism in Italy under dictator Benito Mussolini, "El Duce," marked Italy's darkest time. He was included in a book about Italian pride, but Mussolini and his black shirt brigade reminded us that pride can also be considered one of the seven deadly sins. It is one thing to love your heritage, yourself, and your country, but when these feelings lead to persecution and death of other human beings, it is shameful and wrong. Mussolini's regime was pride at its worst.

The Fascist Party started out small, only 1% of the vote in 1924, but it grew rapidly as Mussolini thurst for power gathered thousands of followers. He marched in Rome under the government of King Vittorio Emanuele III. Mussolini rule was total; he jailed, expelled, and killed those who did not believe in his way. He was very rigid about the participation of women in politics - "women do not count" El Duce said. Their contribution to society was to be wives and mothers.

Rapidly, he transformed Italy from an independent monarchy to a totalitarian state. When Mussolini allied himself with Hitler in World War II, many Italians helped their Jewish friends and comrades reach Switzerland where they would be safe from the concentration camps. Because of this only 10% of Italian Jews were killed. The fact doesn't change the horror of the Holocaust - but underscores the courage of those who resisted the fascist regime.

Italy's entry into war was a total disaster and Mussolini's popularity vanished. On July 25,1943, Mussolini, having lost the support of the people, was arrested by the King but he managed to escape for a time to Northern Italy. The anti-fascist movement, called Partigiani, formed a resistance, which fought against Mussolini and the Natzis.

Mussolini, knowing that his days were numbered, tried to escape with his mistress, but the Partigiani found him and shot him. In order to show their disgust, the Partigiani hung Mussolini and his mistress,Clara Petacci, by their feet in a public piazza in Milano.

In Bologna resides a monument commemorating the men and women who fought against the worst kind of pride there is!!!