Image courtesy of Miracoli
Italy’s former prime minister is a sex criminal, 42 percent of its young people are unemployed, and the country is currently going through its longest recession in 60 years. It would take a miracle to set Italy right, and that’s exactly what the country’s newest tabloid deals in. Miracoli (“Miracles”) is a 52-page weekly magazine full of stories about men healed by Lourdes’s water, nuns turning holy bread into meat in their mouths, and Italian celebrities revealing how saints / Mary /a pope saved or changed their lives. (Each issue also features a centerfold of a saint and a related prayer.) It first hit stands at the end of June and doesn’t have a website, but circulation is already at more than 70,000, which is remarkable in an era when print’s death rattle is louder than ever. I talked to Daniele Urso, Miracoli’s editor-in-chief, to find out more about Italians’ apparently bottomless spiritual appetites.
VICE: Why a magazine about miracles?
Daniele Urso: We thought it was hard to find a magazine that talks about hope. As a journalist, I acknowledge the fact that it’s easier to run bad news, and for this reason, we thought talking about miracles and people’s positive and marvelous experiences would be a suitable way to match an editorial project with a human need. The country’s [economic] crisis is one of many factors contributing to the rebirth of religious devotion. Has there been any reaction from the Catholic Church?
The Church is ignoring us. We are getting great reactions from priests who are far from the higher spheres of the Vatican. Do Italians have a favorite saint?
There’s a lot of devotion to Mary—she is usually the first one people refer to. Father Pio [a 20th-century Italian saint famous for bearing the stigmata who was accused of being a fraud] has a similar status. He is the religious figure of the moment because of his modernity and controversial status. What about Jesus or God?
Mary is a mother, a pitiful character easy to relate to for our readers, who are mostly women—wives and mothers. The saints are human beings like us, and for that reason it is also easy to empathize with them. Jesus and God are seen as entities far from us, and God in particular can be frightening at times. More from this issue: