Baha'i jubilee celebrated in 'world's oldest republic'
SAN MARINO, 14 November 2004 (BWNS) -- Prominent government officials paid tribute to the Baha'i community at a gala dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Baha'i Faith to this country.
The anniversary was "a very special and important occasion," the Secretary of State for Industry, Claudio Felici, told 100 prominent citizens of San Marino and their Baha'i hosts at the event held on 26 September 2004.
Conveying greetings from the government, Dr. Felici spoke about the Baha'i attitude towards peace and how it moved beyond just rhetoric and good intentions to dialogue, cooperation, and human relations.
The activities of the Faith in seeking peace and religious unity are well known in San Marino, a country surrounded by Italy and a member of the United Nations since 1992. It lays claim to the description of "the world's oldest republic."
Last year, the captains regent, two leaders who hold the positions of head of state and government, accepted delivery of a message from the Universal House of Justice which called for decisive action to eradicate religious intolerance and fanaticism in the world.
The government of San Marino has also intervened internationally in defense of the Baha'i community of Iran, which has suffered persecution at the hands of the authorities in that country.
"In this country, Toby gave her contribution, a contribution of ideas, which, I believe, coincide with those of the San Marino people, the defenders of freedom."
The head of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, bestowed on Mr. and Mrs. Payman the accolade of Knight of Baha'u'llah for their service in introducing the Baha'i Faith to San Marino. The couple still reside there and were honored participants at the jubilee festivities.
At a celebration on 26 September 2004 attended by Baha'is from San Marino, Italy, Monaco, and the United States, a message from the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of San Marino was read to the participants.
Congratulations also came the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha'is of France, Italy, and the United States and from many other Baha'i communities around the world.
Later that day, the secretary of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of San Marino, Ghitty Payman, welcomed Baha'is and guests to a concert in the Titano theatre where a prominent singer from Ghana, Ranzie Mensah, performed.
Ms. Mensah, who has performed with Miriam Makeba and appeared on numerous television shows as well as entertained at international governmental events, was accompanied on the piano by Alfredo Matera and by singers Stefy Piovesan, Aurelio Pitino, and Lidia Genta Rigamonti.
After she sang songs with lyrics including the words of Baha'u'llah, the audience gave her a standing ovation.
A buffet dinner brought the joyous jubilee celebrations to a close.
For an earlier article about the Baha'i community of San Marino, see http://news.bahai.org/story.cfm?storyid=200.