THE RECENT RULING of the self-styled “European Court of Human Rights” that the presence of crucifixes in Italian schools is a violation of the rights of a non-practicing Lutheran from Finland has sparked a surge of outrage against European institutions in Italy, and indeed elsewhere. While (as Gerald Warner has reported), the Italian Constitutional Court has shown the proverbial two fingers to the ECHR judgement in a ruling of its own, one junior cabinet minister has a suggestion of his own. Roberto Castelli, Italy’s deputy minister for infrastructure and transportation, suggests the country should reassert its Christian identity by adding a cross or crucifix to the Italian flag.
“I believe,” Mr. Castelli said, “that Europe has the right to recognize its true identity that we are starting to lose completely.” Even the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Freemason and ex-Socialist Franco Frattini, seemed amenable to the idea. “Nine European countries already have the cross on their flag,” Frattini pointed out. “It is an extremely common proposition.”
The obvious temptation when altering the Italian flag is to add something to the middle. The old Italian flag, during the days of the monarchy (above), featured the arms of the Savoy family there, and indeed the dynasty’s arms include a white cross. Two of the realms conquered by Sardinia during the unification of Italy, the (Hapsburg) Grand Duchy of Tuscany and (Bourbon) Kingdom of Two Sicilies, employed green-white-red tricolours with their respective arms in the center.
Were a cross or other Christian emblem to be placed in the center, it could be neither wholly green nor red, for that would alter the balance of the flag and grant one colour dominance over the other. One could add a crucifix proper, in realistic colours with the corpus of Our Lord featured, but this would overcomplicated the flag unnecessarily, as would the emblem of the Sacred Heart. Other ideas — quartering green and red separated by a white cross, or introducing a Scandinavian cross design in the Italian colours — are changes too drastic.
My proposal, seen above, takes its inspiration from the motto of the Borromeo clan, Simplicitas, [Daniel Matsui corrects my error; the Borromeo motto is humilitas] and follows the principle that the simplest solution is the best. A plain white cross sits atop the vertical stripe closest to the fly, which (vexillologically speaking) is the real place of primacy of honour for an emblem to be placed. It has the virtue of maintaining the flag’s easy-to-draw qualities that a full-scale crucifix or rendering of the Sacred Heart would eliminate. It strikes the bargain between the most minimal change possible for the maximum effect.