Friday, December 7, 2007

The Great Santini Debate

Good taste? Bad taste? No taste at all? That's the debate going on in Italy right now over the trend of "santini"-- "little saints".

For years, Italians have been posting small images of patron saints in their car windshields, much like how American Catholics have a St. Christopher medal or a Guardian Angel medal in their cars.

Now the santini can be seen on telefonini.

"Telefonino" is the Italian word for cell phone. Italians can now pay their respective cell phone carriers or a website called "Santi Protettori" (Patron Saints) a small fee to purchase an image of a saint for their background or screensaver.

Some Italians are praising the initiative, calling it a way to bring the Catholic Church to younger generations since they are the ones who tend to use cell phones. Others claim it is poor taste to pay money for an image of a saint to be used in such a manner . However, if it is poor taste for the vade mecum of all Italians-- the cell phone-- to have a santino, what about the saint decals in Italian cars? Or the holy cards that Italian and non-Italian Catholics carry? Where do we draw the line between good and bad taste in the Catholic Church?

Personally, I feel that the santini are appropriate. As a dual citizen of Italy and the United States, I carry an Italian cell phone with TIM (Telecom Italia) and, yes, I have a santina-- St. Veronica, my confirmation saint (see the photo above). To me, the whole debate is similar to those who debate tattoos of Christ or the Virgin Mary. For some, it is blasphemous but for others it is a personal way to show their faith. As the Ancient Romans said, "de gustibus non disputandum est"-- there is no accounting for taste. As long as the image of a saint is not being used in a disrespectful manner-- such as a highly sexualized image of a saint-- and it is being used as an expression of one's faith, I really do not see a problem.
How do you feel about santini on cell phones? Are they appropriate or not? Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below.

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