The word of the week, “cittadini”, indicates the citizens and is usually opposed to the word “suddito”, which means subject. As in English, “cittadino” (to be pronounced chit-ta-dee-no) has a more political than geographical meaning.
The word comes from the Latin “civitas”, which indicates the city, all its citizens, and the citizenship itself. To be a citizen, then, involved specific rights and duties, that didn’t apply instead to the subjects or the slaves.
With the French Revolution, the citizenship took on a new impressive meaning. It was expanded to all the people, and not only attributed to THOSE privileged by birth or census. This is the way we currently talk about citizenship in a democracy: an inclusive condition, strictly related to an active participation to public affairs.
So, this is the reason why the honorary citizenship attributed to rav Luciano Caro, which you can read about in this issue, is really important. Especially in these days, when the first reaction of many European Jews to the terroristic attacks and to the call to emigration was “We are European citizens”.