From ANN, December 16, 2015:    Seventy-five years old and looking good! That’s what you’d think when visiting Villa Aurora, the Adventist Institute of Biblical Culture (IACB) in Florence, which on November 21 celebrated an important milestone.

Leaders of the Italian Union, EUD and GC. Credit: ANN/Vincenzo Annunziata.

Leaders of the Italian Union, EUD and GC. Credit: ANN/Vincenzo Annunziata.

Born in 1940, in a house on Via Trieste 23, in Florence, the Adventist institution was later transferred to the Medici villa on via del Pergolino 12, where it still resides today, and over the years it has grown and expanded with new buildings and a theology department which is recognized by the Italian government.

However, it remains “Villa Aurora” in the hearts and minds of several generations of pastors, Bible readers, secretaries, teachers, coming from all over Italy, and who over the years have lingered in the halls and dorms and attended classes here. During the period in which there was a middle school and high school, many children also spent their adolescent years among the institute’s ancient walls and beautiful park.

“We hope that our Institute of Biblical Culture will contribute to spreading peace which is so much needed today, and not only because it offers Theology classes. Peace is one of the greatest values of the kingdom of God, involving present and future,” said Pastor Filippo Alma, director of IACB. He was clearly referring to the recent terrorist attacks in various countries.

Filippo Alma also cited a phrase from the young Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, who fought for the right of proper education for girls in her country. “I was impressed by what Malala recently wrote,” continued the director, “she says that ‘with weapons you can defeat terrorists, with education and school, you can defeat terrorism,’ which encompasses much more.”

Prefect Giovanna Iurato, who is head of the Central Directorate for Religious Affairs, Ministry of the Interior for the Italian government, attended the event. She was invited for the occasion along with former directors of the Institute: Bert. B. Beach, Michele Buonfiglio, Pierre Winandy, Ignazio Barbuscia and Tiziano Rimoldi.

Among others present were Mario Brito, president of the Inter-European Region, who preached on Saturday morning; Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, head of the Seventh-day Adventist Education Department at the General Conference; Odette Ferreira, director of Adventist Colleges Abroad; and Stefano Paris, president of the Italian Union of Seventh-day Adventists.

“The celebration today has been an important milestone for our school,” said Paris. “My heartfelt hope is that the institute would continue to grow and lead many young people to know the Word of God and also to make a difference in such a difficult society we live in today. ” He also expressed the desire to see other Adventist schools emerge throughout Italy “because where there is education, there is culture and church growth.”

Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news service of the denomination’s world headquarters in Washington, DC.