The new book by Alberto Banti, Sublime madre nostra, is an important scientific contribution to the historical literature inspired by the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification. Its central theses - asserting that the Italian national discourse was based upon some deep rhetorical figures: the nation as sacral community, as network of kinship relations, as a gendered community - invite a comparison with the tenets of the Roman catholic Church on the same subjects. The present discussion focuses on three moments: the pamphlet Della nazionalità published by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio in the year 1847; the opinions expressed by leading Italian Catholics - especially bishop Angelo Bartolomasi, head of military chaplains - during the Great War; the nexus between religion and nation in the Catholic literature endorsing the Italian aggression to Ethiopia. This reconstruction aims to show the differences - but also some similarities - between the catholic position and the "national canon" handed down by the Italian Risorgimento.
Keywords: Nation; Myth; Catholicism; Historiography; Alberto Banti.