The Made in Italy of religious articles meets in Bologna for Devotio and bets on the Jubilee

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It is a Made in Italy product that boasts undisputed leadership in the world, a market niche that employs over 3 thousand businesses, mostly family-run, and generates a turnover of 700 million euros in our country, over half of which is exported and which, despite the crisis of vocations and faithful, it started running again in double figures last year, after the Covid crash. This concerns the production of religious articles and objects for worship, which from 11 to 13 February will be on stage in Bologna for the fourth edition of the biennial Devotio fair, the most important international exhibition in the sector, which in turn has brought to there is a 10% increase in exhibitors: 218 companies from 17 countries (22% foreign) are expected in the two pavilions (15 thousand m2) of the exhibition center, after a 2022 edition of the restart which attracted over 3 thousand professional visitors from 50 countries.

A record-breaking fourth edition at BolognaFiere

«We sold out the spaces and were unable to satisfy all the requests, we went well beyond our forecasts and this year even countries that had not previously approached the show will participate, such as Brazil which is the leader in incense and Palestine, with two companies arriving in search of a better future” explains Valentina Zattini, CEO of Conference Service which organizes the event, after a long experience in Koinè, the other event that remained in odd years in Vicenza. This year, the arrival of the Jubilee of Rome in 2025 will also give an acceleration to the sector and factories of religious articles with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s on 24 December. But in Devotio there will not only be objects for Christian worship, rosaries, crucifixes, statues, nativity scenes, bells, incense, candles, icons and sacred art, vestments for the liturgy, but also church furnishings and plant engineering. The revisiting of religious environments is increasingly strategic for bringing the Church closer to the people, a theme at the center of one of the trade fair conferences scheduled in the three-day Bologna event «Starting again from the meeting: places of announcement and community spaces» with initiatives such as that of the Summa Humanitate Foundation, which transformed a former novitiate into accommodation for the families of children admitted to the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome, or the diocese of Pavia which created two social housing units for temporary accommodation or reception activities at the Arsenale of the Peace of Sermig in Turin for disadvantaged people and immigrants or the project of the diocese of Faenza which organizes meetings with young people in the vast seminary and has created a library.

The Loreto production district is growing again

«Devotio is the strategic event for those who work in our sector, there are other shows in Poland, Brazil, the United States, but they do not have the same international stature and we must select where to be present, given that we are all small and medium-sized family businesses with limited resources to invest” explains Renato Moroni, owner of Lal Srl, one of the three largest Italian companies in the sector of religious articles and souvenirs, in Loreto, capital of the rosary crown and production epicenter of Italian sacred art, as well as Fatima it is in Portugal, Lourdes in France or Medjugorje in Herzegovina. Today, a dozen companies remain in the Ancona district. «The crisis of recent years has decimated us, Covid was the final blow, we who lost only 50% are among those pardoned, most of my artisan colleagues saw 80% of their turnover go up in smoke in a year, many have closed” says Morini, son of the founder of the company active in Loreto for 67 years, which is now being joined by the third generation. 2023 was the year of recovery, «we as Lal recorded the best balance sheet ever, with a +25% jump on 2019, reaching over 5 million euros in turnover – specifies the owner who provides direct work to 38 people but more than double with related activities in the area -. In our factory we produce rosaries, wooden and metal crucifixes, even bedheads, but today it is above all with personalized gadgets for the individual sanctuary or parish that we grow.” And from Loreto the key rings, magnets or rosaries branded with places of worship arrive all over the world, from Indonesia to Latin America, from Japan to Nigeria. Lal exports half of its turnover and the other 50% is made between the Vatican (15%, first customer) and the capital Rome (another 15%) and the remaining 20% ​​around Italy.

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