The problem of the legitimacy or otherwise of the Resistance tradition in post-war Italy has been addressed in recent years mainly in terms of the role of the partisan struggle and its political legacy. This article aims to assess the tradition in terms of commemorative practices, rituals, artistic representations and monuments. It seeks to evaluate whether the Resistance gave rise to a civic religion that may be compared to those which existed in the Liberal period, based on the heroic struggles and figures of the Risorgimento, and the Fascist period, which drew on the feelings of loss and injustice that followed the First World War. It is argued that, although the Resistance lacked, prior to the 1960s, a high degree of official sponsorship, it did acquire some of the features of a civic religion. Its appeal was mainly limited to the regions administered by the Left which had seen a significant degree of Resistance activity in 1943-5. Even here, however, it was difficult to sustain the tradition as a key feature of community life during and after the economic boom: the eclipse of public culture, the decline of public mourning and the development of commercial leisure and mass culture all served to deprive it of meaning. Although intellectuals, politicians and ex-partisans reacted to this situation, the visual and rhetorical languages associated with the commemoration of the Resistance became increasingly divorced from everyday life and dominant social values.