Comboni, on this day

In lettera a Elisabetta Girelli (1870) da Verona si legge:
Noi siamo uniti nel Sacratissimo Cuore di Gesù sulla terra per poi unirci in Paradiso per sempre. È necessario correre a gran passi nelle vie di Dio e nella santità, per non arrestarci che in Paradiso.

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21
His father
0
Korosko
27.11.1857
N. 21 (19) – TO HIS FATHER
AFC

Dearest Father!

Korosko in Nubia, 27 November 1857
[160]
It is now a good twelve days that I have been in the vast Nubian kingdom, where I am beginning to realise that I am far from you. But please understand what I mean by the word far. If I look back over the physical distance that separates us, over the kingdoms, over the countries I have crossed since the last farewell I gave to Italy, I realise that I am far from you, even if I have only gone half way to my destination. If on the other hand I reflect on the continuous immediate relationship I have with you, on the affection I have for you, on my ever-caring concern for you, oh, well then I am always close to you, I am always speaking to you, we are always exchanging our mutual feelings of affection, I am always in union with you, because love knows no distance or limits in time.
[161]
Yes, dear father, dear Mama, however various and different the objects which surround me may be, instead of arousing in me thoughts associated with them, they awaken the dear memory of you, so that I think of you a lot on the enchanting
banks of the Nile, in the arid sands of the desert, and under my tent and in every place in which I dwell. So sweep from your mind that false proverb which you may have learnt from your own grandmother as she sat spinning, namely: out of sight, out of mind; because when it is a matter of true, Christian, filial love, no distance can weaken it in any way: indeed this is what I feel.

[162]
When I was in college, several days might go by without my thinking of you, of all I have received from you, of all that I owe you: now not an hour or an instant are you absent from my mind’s eye, do I not think of you, of what you did for me, of what in your parental love you are prepared to do, and above all of the heroic consent you gave me, which can only come from a God-fearing soul who spurns all earthly complacency and sees nothing but the heritage of the saints: we talk about you almost every night and it is always with admiration that we speak of your great courage which is incomparably superior to our own not little resolve to persevere in our great mission. We are therefore supremely content with our lot; we always thank God who, despite our faults, has called us to serve him so closely; and I particularly thank you and will always thank you, O dearest ones, for allowing me to follow my vocation.
[163]
As for our health I do not know how it is: since the day we left Cairo we have always slept either on a plank in the boat or under a small tent on a thin reed-mat, constantly exposed to the mockery of the winds, the sand and the flies which are countless and so annoying that they seem to be the descendants of the ones that plagued Egypt in the times of the Pharaohs. We are still eating fresh bread bought in Cairo, which will last a few more months and we put up with a great deal of other discomforts that are typical of long and difficult journeys; and yet we must confess that by the grace of God we are in a better state of health than we were in Europe. I find I no longer have bad breath in the morning as I did in Verona; Fr Angelo rarely suffers from his inseparable headaches; Fr Alessandro hardly has his stomach pains any more. In fact we cannot complain of the heat so far because under the tent it never rises above 32° since it is winter; and in the neighbouring desert we are about to cross, it does not rise above 43° at the moment, but the other discomforts related to our present position are somewhat to be expected: so we must only thank God who is granting us his special assistance.
[164]
But you will be longing to know something about our journey: so I am about to give you satisfaction. Once we had got over the daunting Aswan cataracts on the 15th of this month, we were glad to enter the Nubia territory which looks very different from the Egyptian lands. The banks of the Nile are nearly always flanked by huge granite mountains, rarely by copses of dates and palms; the sky is most beautiful; the inhabitants are the colour of the paler Moors in our Institute, with a finer spirit than the Egyptians and with a whit less loyalty to the Grand Pasha who has entrusted the government of Nubia (a vast kingdom more than one and a half times the size of the Austrian empire, though less populated) to appointed Mudirs whose task it is to collect not only taxes, but also all the produce of the land in Nubia, to put it all in the warehouses of Cairo, leaving the people naked and eating nothing but dates and occasionally a little durra grain.
[165]
It moves one truly to compassion to see these people steeped in their poverty and the greatest deprivation; and yet daily thanking Mohammed who wants it to be so.
[Here Comboni dwells on the description of the environment.]

[166]
After briefly visiting the famous island of File, noted for a very large temple built by King Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt and a most fortunate voyage, we reached Korosko, located on the edge of the great desert, from where I write.
[167]
After pitching our tents under a date palm a quarter of a mile outside Korosko, near the bank of the Nile, our first thought was to celebrate Mass there, for which purpose we used two crates to erect an elegant little altar under our tent, decorated with flowers from our Institute. I cannot find words to express the consolation we felt at offering this august sacrifice in such an unfortunate land, where perhaps, according to what we have been told, the pacific Host of our Redemption had never before been immolated. It had been nearly three weeks since we last celebrated. Before we leave we intend to make an inscription with a chalice painted on it to record this happy occasion for posterity. The first night after our arrival, we were awakened and up in arms against a hyena which came close to our tent; and on the second night there was a little rain: it was the first I saw since we had left Verona; and what is more it was the first to fall in Korosko, given that in human memory never had a drop of rain been seen to fall in Korosko.
[168]
In this village we are awaiting about 60 camels to cross the great desert. We hope to leave in four days; and this desert crossing is one of the most daunting stretches of our journey; but do you think we will be sick with some illness, like most of those coming from Europe and passing this way? You may be sure we won’t; and I shall confirm this with a letter from Khartoum. God is with us: while we are and always remain ready to die, nonetheless we have an inner feeling, that we are bound to reach Khartoum, and first cross the great desert, which stretches from Korosko to Berber, without even a headache. I say this because at the time we will be crossing the great desert there will be the feast of St Francis Xavier, our protector, whose day is 3rd December, and there will be the feast of the Immaculate Conception, under whose protection we place our mission, and which occurs on 8th December. In the meantime, here we are preparing our things and Fr Giovanni and I are being consulted about some illnesses.
[169]
The other day a captain of the Egyptian militia came to see me to ask my advice about a disease of the genitals: since it was a question of syphilis, I prescribed among other things that he should not only abstain from going with women, but also that he should not sleep with his own wife or else he would soon be going to join Mohammed; to which he replied: What do you expect me to want so many women for? I have ten at home who are my wives, so I have enough without looking for more.
[170]
Polygamy is widely practised by all those who have the means. In our position in the midst of these gentlemen, we are often grieved to see so many wretched sons of Adam, victims of the most deplorable servitude, who after suffering here on earth are bound to suffer even greater pains in hell. Our Religion was promulgated here in the 5th century by St Frumentius who was sent by St Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria. About two centuries later, the Mohammedans arrived and destroyed everything, including the Religion of J.C.; and from then on, over one thousand one hundred years, the Christian religion has never penetrated the Nubia region where even today there is the death penalty for those who preach, as for those who embrace our Faith. Only in 1848 was Mgr Knoblecher, the present Pro-Vicar Apostolic, able to establish a Mission in Khartoum with Fr Vinco, where they can see to the welfare, if not of Mohammedans, at least of the black slaves.
[171]
But enough, you will be tired. I am impatient to reach Khartoum where I hope to find many letters from you; the post gets there before us, because from Egypt to Khartoum it is carried by dromedaries which travel very fast day and night.
[172]
In the meantime be happy, calm, and trust in God, who sees all, who can do everything and who loves us. Remember that we are praying for you, we remember you always and we are ever grateful for your great spirit. You have placed all your trust in God; he will know how to reward you worthily. Oh divine Providence is the pivot of all hope for a poor Missionary who having trampled all the enticements the world offers, ventures under her beneficent wing into foreign lands to promote the glory and kingdom of Jesus Christ.
[173]
I urge you to take good care of yourselves, do not spare anything for your physical well-being: for the Lord, you have done everything. I hope you have found yourselves a decent servant; there will be trouble if you have not. You will force me to send you an ugly Moorish girl from Central Africa who will serve you extremely well. Goodbye, dear father, dear Mama, write tome often, and above all do your part: be happy, I repeat, and be constant on the way to Calvary which measures 820 paces, from Pilate’s Palace to Calvary, and of which you have already covered 800. Are only 20more paces going to frighten you? That cannot be true.
[174]
I beg you to carry out my duties as godfather for my godson Giacomino, known as Pilès, the son of Carlo and Anna Maria. I am sorry I did not go to Riva to say goodbye to our dear relatives: please give them my fondest greetings, one by one; and also convey my greetings to uncle Giuseppe, who is certainly praying for me, Eustachio, Erminia, the little ones, Signor Consigliere, our master, his brother and sister-in-law in Riva, the Rector, Fr Bem, Signor Beppo and Giulia Carettoni, Luigi and Prudenza Patuzzi’s family, the good ladies Minica, Virginia, Gigiotta who promised to pray for me and are certainly doing so, Doctor David, Dr Fantini, my friends Antonio Risatti, Rambottini, Caporale – also on behalf of Fr Angelo; to Signor Vincenzo Carettoni and his offspring in Bogliaco, our relatives in Bogliaco, Maderno, the gardeners in Supino and Tesolo, SignorMaestro, Candido, the parish priest of Voltino, and all those who ask after us, with amost tender greeting to Signor Pietro Ragusini and through him to Signor Bortolo Carboni who are my benefactors and are beautiful souls, and also to all those to whom I have been a cause of displeasure and especially to you and my dear Mama, to whom I send my blessing, while I sign myself, with all my heart

Your most affectionate son

Fr Daniel Comboni

22
His mother
0
Korosko
27.11.1857
N. 22 (20) – TO HIS MOTHER
AFC

Dearest Mama!

Korosko, Nubia, 27/11 1857
[175]
It is with the greatest pleasure, O dear Mama, that I can tell you how well I am, that I think of you, pray for you, and although I am far away I live every instant for you. I don’t know how many times a day I think of the great sacrifice you made of me to the Lord! This is a great thought for me which I will never cease to admire, and I will always thank you for the grace you have granted me, of which I was truly unworthy: we remember you at all times.
[176]
In Verona, in Jerusalem and in many places there are many people and monasteries who are praying for us and for our mission; but to tell you the truth, I lay greater store by a few of your Hail Marys, because they come from a heart which has sacrificed itself for the glory of God. Therefore be constant in your generosity; always be joyful and, in every temptation to lack in faith or in any other, turn your mind to the Sorrowful Mother at the foot of the Cross. Even we are always joyful; and whenever the enemy of salvation calls to mind the pain of our separation and what you went through (for that is always in our mind) we turn our eyes to the sufferings of Jesus Christ and so many Apostles and Missionaries, and thus we can rejoice.
[177]
Oh if you could see the misery in these parts, if you had had a hundred sons you would have given them all to God so that they could come and bring solace to these poor souls. So thank the Lord because he gave you the grace to give him all you had. So now I salute you with all my heart: have you ever been ill up to now? Do write to me, dear Mama, all the time. Give my greetings to your brothers and sister-in-law, telling uncle Luigi that if he goes to confession three times a year I will send him some very fine African tobacco, and to uncle Pietro that if he goes the same number of times, I will send him some precious bottles of Egyptian wine, better than the one he guzzles when he goes on those great drinking sprees which make him see double. Give my regards to all your women friends, Pirola, our relatives’ good servant, and blessing you, I remain, with all my heart

Your most affectionate son

Fr Daniel

P.S. All my companions send their regards and exhort you to pray for us.

23
His mother
0
Korosko
9.12.1857
N. 23 (21) – TO HIS MOTHER
AFC

My dearest Mama!

Korosko, 9 December 1857
[178]
To tell you the truth I would feel I was committing a crime if I missed a single opportunity to send you the sincere and affectionate sentiments of my heart. Oh, if you only knew how dear you are tome, and how much I appreciate and respect your generous resolve! At every moment I seem to see you concentrating on your grief, now happy for a future hope, now in an inexplicable uncertainty, now fully absorbed in trust in God. The human heart is made that way, dear Mama. God is only teasing now, because he loves you.
[179]
Oh, if you were only able to understand how God accepts your sorrow, I am sure that even what remains of your life would already be heavenly. Yes dear Mama, you belong supremely to God; and I glory in having you as my mother; and if I did not strive to work and give my whole life for the glory of God, I would be following my parents’ example very badly, for they have gone before me in the glorious undertaking of sacrificing everything for the love of Jesus Christ.
[180]
So be brave. I beg you with all my heart to care for my old Simeone; have compassion for his faults, correct him, love him for the love of God and for the love of me; live in reciprocal charity and concord and God has made you a throne in heaven which will infinitely reward all the tribulations of your lifetime. – Give a kiss to old Simeone for me; give my regards to the Miniche ladies, and believe that I am truly

Your affectionate son

Fr Daniel

24
His father
0
Korosko
9.12.1857
N. 24 (22) – TO HIS FATHER
AFC

My dearest good Father!

Korosko, 9 December 1857
[181]
Since God’s Providence saw to it that there were not enough camels to carry all our things across the desert until now, we were forced to stay in Korosko until today; and so before my departure, I think it is appropriate that I should write in the hope that you will have the letter before mid-January.
[182]
What have we been doing all this time? We spent our days in hope and indecision. One day we had news from the caravans returning from the desert; on the morrow boats bearing delinquents in chains were due in and they would have to use the camels which had just arrived for them to go to their penitentiary a bit beyond Khartoum on the Bahar-el-Azrek, precisely as is done in Russia, where criminals condemned to life sentences are sent to Siberia so that they slowly die of the cold, just as these Egyptian criminals are expected gradually to expire in the heat. The day after, we were planning to take the Dongola route and go to Khartoum skirting the desert of Bayuda, which is much less dangerous than the Nubian desert we shall be crossing; but the objection remained that three, and even four months are required due to the crossing of Wadi-Halfa and seven more cataracts on the Nile.
[183]
However, just over two weeks later it pleased God that a caravan should arrive from Berber, with whose camels we shall be leaving Korosko tomorrow for the desert, having already made a contract and advanced a sum corresponding to 200 thalers to the Habir of our caravan.
[184]
But in the meantime, most beloved father, can you imagine the thoughts I turned over in my mind? The generous sacrifice the two of you have made is the constant object of my meditations, and in the depths of my conscience I believe there must be very few parents like you in the world, because where can one find parents who more perfectly fulfil and accomplish their Mission? Napoleon used to say: those who give the most children to the State; an ancient philosopher declared: those who give the most children to the fatherland; and our most holy Religion instead, asserts that the parents who most perfectly accomplish their Mission are those who procreate the most children for heaven. Now are you not perhaps the latter?
[185]
Indeed you are even more fortunate; since your only son was not just directed by you to heaven, but he was also called by God to convert the infidels, and thus to a state in which all is consumed in sending to heaven other souls who are now dwelling in the darkness and shadows of death; and you, this only son of yours, who was your entire asset on earth, you dedicated him entirely to God, only retaining for yourselves the eternal sacrifice of his absence, and also of his loss for the love of Jesus Christ.
[186]
And who on earth could have done such a thing with such great magnanimity? Only those called by God to such greatness, like St Felicity, the mother of the Maccabees, and other souls who were dearest to God. And do not say that after all this son of yours whom you have given is a poor ignorant, useless fool, incapable of any enterprise, because however true it may be that I am all this, you nevertheless sacrificed me to God as though I were Solomon himself, or the Apostle St Paul; so even if I am a useless, incapable servant, even if I do nothing, even if I were, so to speak, to give up my faith (may God keep his hand on my head!!) you have acquired as much merit in God’s eyes as if you had given the Church a St Augustine, a Xavier, a St Paul, because God does not measure by the greatness of things, which are all less than nothing in his sight, but the greatness of the love with which they are given. It pleased J.C. that St Peter should leave all his things and follow him. They were a battered and leaky boat and a few tattered nets; and yet Peter left them all; and the Gospel praises him as though he had left a kingdom; for to a poor farmer his rough and humble croft is as precious as his capital is to a monarch.
[187]
Now you are among those who have given everything for Jesus Christ. Secondly, do not tell me how happy are the parents who live with their children. Ah, those are living part of their heaven on earth, and on their deathbed, when they can no longer taste the delights of the past and things are too well known in their essence, on their deathbed they will have the bitter regret of not having done anything for the Lord, while you will shout full of joy: blessed is the Lord for he has guided me on the way of the Cross, and now he shows me his mercy a hundredfold!!!
[188]
Have courage therefore, my dear father. I have always opened my heart to you, I speak to you every day, I am aware of your worries and am having a foretaste of the delights God has reserved for you in heaven. Courage therefore: may God be the centre of communication between us .May he guide our undertakings, our affairs, our destiny and let us rejoice: for we are dealing with a good master, a faithful friend, a loving father.
[189]
Above all remember to confide in this good Father, and to be humble; since the grace the Lord has granted you and will grant you is not dispensed to you through your merits, but through his mercy.
[190]
I am in excellent health, and so are all my companions who are also my superiors, of whom I am not even worthy to be a servant, because their goodness is such that my own actions in comparison are crimes. They send their greetings to both of you and ask that you pray to the Lord for our mission. We hope to reach Khartoum for the Epiphany and to leave for Bahar-el-Abiad before the end of January.
[191]
Give a tender greeting to mother and I entreat you with all my heart; have patience, have compassion for her faults as she will have for yours. Before God, we are all full of faults. So be patient and charitable, for God has compassion on us. Give her a loving kiss for me, seeing that she is helped in all ways, sparing neither the field nor anything, God will always provide.
[192]
Give my best greetings to Eustachio, Erminia, Uncle Giuseppe, our relatives in Riva, Limone, Bogliaco and Maderno, the Rector, Signor Beppo Carettoni, Patuzzi, and his family, Grandfather Ben, Signor Ragusini, Vincenzo, Medico, Risatti, Rambottini, our master and everybody. Also give my regards to the ferry agent Meneghelli, returning his greetings; I believe he is a gentleman and a good Christian. Goodbye! Goodbye!!!

Your most affectionate son

Fr Daniel

25
Signatures for Masses
1
Verona
1857
N. 25 (23) –

SIGNATURES FOR MASSES CELEBRATED
IN S. GIOV. BATTISTA DEL SACCO, VERONA

AMV
26
Signatures for Masses
1
Verona
1857
N. 26 (24) –

SIGNATURES FOR MASSES CELEBRATED
IN S. STEFANO, VERONA

ASSV
27
Fr. Serafino OFM
0
Verona
1857
N. 27 (25) – TO FR SERAFINO O.F.M.
ASC


Deus meus et omnia!


N.B. Comboni’s words on the last page of the book “De ascensione mentis in Deum” by Bellarmino, given to him by Comboni.
28
Eustachio Comboni
0
Khartoum
12. 1.1858
N. 28 (26) – TO EUSTACHIO COMBONI
AFC

Dearly beloved Eustachio!

Khartoum, 12 January 1858
[193]
It was truly a great pleasure to read your most affectionate letter of 16th November; but it would have been a much greater pleasure if you had told me something of little Emilio’s progress. I know Eugenio and Enrichetto are doing well, and it always gives me great joy to have my good opinion of them confirmed, but your silence about the one who was not always as praiseworthy for his behaviour as the other two gives me the natural suspicion that even in Roveredo he must be going on a few little escapades as he did in Limone, although of course I hope he is doing well on the whole. So write to me therefore another time about everybody without exception, because it gives me more pleasure to hear about a small definite fault than to suspect larger ones even if they do not exist.
[194]
It consoles me greatly that he should be under the immediate and wise direction of the ever insufficiently praised Fr Giordani, of whose concern for your good sons I perhaps know more than you. How is my charming and dear Erminia? What sweet and tender memories the dear thought of her I treasure in my heart awakens in me! Give her a hundred kisses and a thousand more from me, and tell her that the great distance that divides me from her has not at all diminished the fervent affection I have for her; tell her that I am not at all displeased at having included her for years among those for whom I have a special affection, that I in no way regret having loved her, but rather that I quite enjoy, even from a distance, letting her know that I keep her in my heart.
[195]
Yes my dear Eugenio; although in order to follow the call of God conveyed to me through most certain signs and most sure indications, I have had to make a complete holocaust and sacrifice of my heart by distancing myself from my dearest ones, to whom I am bound by the most sacred ties of blood, my spirit nonetheless walks ceaselessly among you, it cares for you, unworthily of course, but it prays for you and rejoices in being informed of everything that concerns you.
[196]
I rejoiced at hearing that my dear Eugenio is being forced to give an account of his school work in the German language: you will see what progress he will make in a short time. This is but a small obstacle for his talents; it is nothing for him; and I am certain that by his behaviour and application to his studies he will give great satisfaction to his superiors, be an honour to the family and be a part of your earthly paradise. In this respect, keep in contact and in some way in relation with Mitterrutzner, who can be quite helpful to you after he finishes his studies in Innsbruck, whether in Germany, in Illyria, in Italy, in France or anywhere.
[197]
From my father you will hear the news of my journey so far and of what I am about to undertake among the tribes of Central Africa. What sacrifices the poor Missionary has to make! My father, my mother are happy and fortunate in God’s sight for he has already marked their souls for salvation, but their grief for me is the greatest sacrifice God’s providence has given me, since everything weighs down on my heart and burdens me more than a hundred cruel deaths in witness to the faith. But God who asks this great sacrifice of me will have mercy on them and will give them the prodigious help for which I pray every day.
[198]
Goodbye, my dear brother and beloved cousin: take care of my poor parents; be there in my stead, for God will dispense ample blessings upon you. Take care of my dear Eugenio, on whose future I am of the same opinion as you. Take care of the good Emilio, for I think the poor soul […] was somewhat unfortunate as a boy in the ordering of his studies, take care of little Enrico who I hope will go a much better way than the rest of you. Give my very, very best wishes to my beloved Erminia, Signor Giuseppe Carettoni, Giulia, your good servant and everybody in the family. In the hope of not being disappointed by your letters, I embrace you, send you a thousand kisses and remain with all my heart

Your most affectionate brother

Fr Daniel

29
Fr. Pietro Grana
0
Khartoum
15. 1.1858
N. 29 (27) – TO FR PIETRO GRANA
ACR, A, c. 15/38

My dear and kind Fr Pietro!

Khartoum, 15 January 1858
[199]
It was with great affliction that I read the news in my father’s letter of 6th November that you are certainly leaving Limone. Poor town! Widowed of the one who dried so many tears and filled it with so much good, it will now be without its shepherd and deprived of the hope of ever enjoying past delights. I am so, so sorry, my dear Fr Pietro, even if I do not yet know whether you have actually abandoned my poor home town. But enough reminiscing over misfortunes.
[200]
You will have received a letter of mine from Jerusalem and even if my father has informed you about my travels, in the fear that you may not have been in Limone for several months I would nonetheless like to give you a brief account. Leaving Cairo on 23rd October on board two large dhows, we reached Aswan after 20 days of good sailing, rapidly admiring on the way the famous pyramids and the glorious remains of Denderah, Keneh, Thebes, Karnak, Luxor, Esneh, etc. After avoiding the cataracts by crossing a small desert on camels, we again sailed up the Nile to Shellal which lies at the beginning of Nubia below the Tropic; and having rented two new boats, we successfully reached Korosko located on the edge of the formidable Nubian desert.
[201]
The word desert is awesome to anyone who has experienced what it is. But although the desert itself implies a thousand dangers, discomforts, deprivations and miseries, nevertheless, since we had the propitious winter season, we crossed it quite successfully in 22 days, against all expectations. Our caravan was formed of 47 camels and was commanded by two excellent Habirs assigned to us by the great chief of the desert. To begin with one travels through a range of great mountains scorched by the sun, at the foot of which there are layers of limestone formed by the great summer heat. After two days one enters an immense space of burning sand which recalls the vastness of the sea, except that under a burning 38, forty and even 43 degrees Réaumur, now that it is winter, you can hardly breathe. The exhausting and uncomfortable swaying of the camel, which produces acute pain in the backbone, the scarcity of hot food, the reed mat on the bare ground on which one rests and other discomforts all go to make this desert excessively daunting. In I know not how many years, it has swallowed up 98 caravans and made so many victims, as the habir told us, that you can see the many bones of the dead and thousands of camels’ skeletons, which are the hyenas’ only food, and the main signposts to find one’s way.
[202]
In Korosko we took 26 skins of Nile water for the desert. After two days, it took on the colour and the taste of the putrefying goatskin of which the containers were made and this increased our discomfort, quite apart from the other not minor deprivations which accompany travellers in the desert. But soon various flocks of different birds perceived in the distance, together with the fearful roar of the Hippopotamuses which inhabit the Nile as it flows through Nubia, announced that we were approaching the city of Berber, capital of the sheikhdom that bears its name. After again renting two new boats, and embracing Pasha Wood el-Kamer, the famous slayer of the great Sheikh who in 1822 had burnt Isma’il Pasha, the son of the immortal Muhammad’Ali V, King of Egypt, after eight days of good sailing, we safely reached Khartoum four months and six hours after our departure from Verona.
[203]
Khartoum is located on the border of the tribes of Central Africa, and we are just getting equipped for the dangerous expedition. Our current intention is to follow the Bahar-el-Abiad (White Nile) until we are not far from the equator and, after carrying out careful explorations, to try to enter a tribe which should be large and have a language that is widely spoken. Here in Khartoum horrible stories are told of what the inhabitants of the Bahar-el-Abiad have done this year; but we notice that these are mostly provoked by adventurers who go there to extract elephant tusks. We trust in God who has called us to such a great enterprise. But enough, my dear Fr Pietro. I hope you will still be in Limone and will console me with a few letters. We are all five in excellent health, and we sometimes speak of you and of your liberal approach when you were at the college. Best regards to Signor Pietro Ragusini, to his good mother, brothers and sisters, Elisa and Marietta, while I remain

Your most affectionate

Fr Daniel Comboni

My companions send you their greetings.

30
Dr. Benedetto Patuzzi
0
Khartoum
15. 1.1858
N. 30 (28) – TO DR BENEDETTO PATUZZI
ACR, A, c. 15/87

Dearest and kind friend,

Khartoum, 15 January 1858
[204]
…Once we had rented 43 camels in Korosko and loaded 27 water skins, we entered the daunting Nubian desert. Our caravan, made up of only 47 camels, because a Turkish captain joined us, was commanded by two Habir, or caravan chiefs, assigned by the great Chief of the desert, who were liable for any accidents. The great Chief is the absolute master of this long and dangerous passage, and he is a descendent of the famous Sheikh Abd-el-Kader who lived centuries ago and, being the first to have crossed the desert, is held to be a prophet on a par with Mohammed, and our great chief is thus held to be a soothsayer who can make all caravans perish in the desert whenever he wants, without anyone, not even the Grand Pasha, being able to say a thing…

[He describes here the desert crossing which was a success and did not harm the health of any of the company].

[205]
At last, 21 days later we reached Berber all in one piece on the last day of the year after having celebrated Mass on Christmas Day in Abuhammed, where the Creator of the Universe was adored in his real presence. In Berber we were visited in our tent by Pasha Wood-el-Kamer, the famous slayer of the slayer of Isma’il Pasha, the son of the great Muhammad’Ali. After renting two boats we resumed our journey up the Nile and after a look at the Pyramids of Merowe, the ancient capital of the famous Ethiopian kingdom which flourished perhaps even before Egypt, escorted by huge crocodiles, twenty or thirty of which appear at a time on the neighbouring islets and with our ears deafened by loud hippopotamus roars, we safely reached Khartoum on the 8th after exactly four months.
The Missionaries courteously greeted us in this distant mission post. We will leave for the heart of Africa in three day’s time.


In the P.S. Comboni speaks of having received a letter which had been sent by the doctor of Limone, in which he was informed of his mother’s serious illness.

He also speaks of having been received with his companions that very morning, the 15th, by the Coptic Patriarch of Abyssinia who was on his way to Cairo as ambassador to the Grand Viceroy-Pasha.


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