Followers of the order of Italian witchcraft known as Stregeria claim that their tradition has maintained an unbroken lineage that goes back before the days of the Roman Empire.
According to the ways of the strege, the Goddess of the Old Religion, whether known as Diana, Aradia, or Demeter, has always been the benefactress of the outcast, the lonely, the people of the night. When the new religion of Christianity achieved dominance in Italy, the strege revered Mother Mary as an expression of the Goddess Diana.
Throughout Italy, Sicily, and Malta, there are many strege passing as devout church members, including a few Roman Catholic priests, who accept the Blessed Virgin Mary because they know she is just another incarnation of the Goddess Diana. One day, the strege believe religious tolerance will progress to the stage where they will once again have a public temple to the Goddess. More than one scholar of the mass conversions of the pagan populace of Europe during the Middle Ages has commented on the fact that the common folk simply went underground with their worship of Diana, or made the motions of giving reverence to the Virgin Mary, while secretly directing their true devotion to the Goddess.
"Christianization forced the Old Religionists underground in the twelfth century, but the sculptors paid tribute to their goddesses Demeter and Persephone by creating the Madonna and female Jesus. In ancient times people worshipped at the Temple of Demeter in Enna, Sicily, where they celebrated her daughter Persephone's resurrection from the underworld to become Goddess of souls and immortality. To this day the Sicilians worship the female deity more than the male, and every city has its sainted patroness."
Grimassi, Raven. Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft. St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2000.
Machia, Arawn. "Ways of the Strega: An Introduction." [Online] http://www.monmouth.com/~equinoxbook/strega.html.
Steiger, Brad. Revelation: The Divine Fire. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973.