The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that displaying crucifixes in schools in Italy does not breach the rights of non-Catholic families.
In a landmark decision, the Strasbourg-based court's Grand Chamber said it found no evidence "that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils".
A lower chamber of the European court had ruled in 2009 that the classroom crucifixes violated the religious freedom clauses of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The Italian government appealed saying that crucifixes were an historical and cultural part of Italian life.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi SJ , said the Vatican welcomed the ruling, which recognizes that "human rights must not be placed in opposition to the religious foundations of European civilization."
The ruling will affect all 47 Council of Europe member states, and sets a precedent for citizens in other countries who would like religious symbols in classrooms.