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In memory of Papas Gaetano Petrotta



Today marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of Papas Gaetano Petrotta who was one of the most illustrious figures who characterized the cultural identity of Piana degli Albanesi.


Trained at the Greek-Albanian Seminary in Palermo, where he took his first steps in the field of albanology, papas Gaetano Petrotta at a very young age gained the reputation of an expert connoisseur of the Albanian language and culture, revealing a particular propensity towards historical studies of literature. Pan-Albanian and towards the related philological disciplines. Among the most convinced and tenacious supporters of Albanianism in Sicily, he played an important role as animator and organizer of cultural activities within the newly established Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi elected by papal decree in 1937, first assisting, as editor, the Sunday magazine Fjala e t'Inzoti founded by the bishop Paolo Schirò and then founding the Italo-Albanian magazine, which he directed together with his brother Rosolino, receiving an applause of approval from all the Arbereshe cultural circles.

In the knight years between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, papas Gaetano Petrotta, initiated a thorough philological analysis of the oldest monuments of the Albanian language, intervening with an acute and polemical critical attitude on the debate then underway. Famous remain his study, About an Albanian catechism edited by prof Marchianò, in which he outlined important philological criteria that still today constitute the most consistent part of this discipline applied to albanology, and his in-depth analyzes conducted on the famous Missal of Gjon Buzuku (1555).

Between the years 1933 and 1934, papas Tani was commissioned to hold courses in Albanian language and literature at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Palermo, a position he held until his death. His most important scientific works range from the irreplaceable Albanian people, language and literature to the historical development of Albanian literature, from the long theory of critical contributions scattered in numerous and renowned specialized journals of the time to the decisive critical-biographical syntheses of the most important writers Albanians appeared in the context of the impressive literary anthology published in Albania under the title of Sbkrimtaret Shqiptare. Precisely in regard to Albania, by inserting himself in the wake of Italian-Albanian relations, papas Tani dedicated a conspicuous part of his pastoral and ecumenical activity, as well as scientific and cultural. Thanks to his commitment, the long and prestigious series of ecumenical meetings known as Eastern Weeks, real traits d'unions between the West and the Christian East, at the epicenter of which the Albanian communities of Italy were placed in the their dual quality of spiritual islands of the ancient and never dormant Greek-Byzantine spirituality and of communities faithful to Roman Catholicism.


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