Italy has a long tradition of lay confraternities, often launched by the church hierarchy, or at least sanctioned by them. Lay associations have taken on roles organizing feasts or carrying out specific works of charity for the poor, the sick and the imprisoned. Older lay confraternities often had a particular form of identifying dress for special occasions, such as those shown in the images from Venice's Corpus Christi processions.
Many of these smaller, traditional associations endure in Italy today, but the late 20th century saw the birth of a number of significant new ones, like Comunione e Liberazione, Focolare, and Sant'Egidio, each of which has Italian roots (and continued strong presence in Italy) but has spread internationally.
Massimo Faggioli, "The New Elites of Italian Catholicism: 1968 and the New Catholic Movements," Catholic Historical Review 98 (2012): 18-40.
Updated: May 17, 2021 - 2:09pm