I flattered myself that on reaching Alexandria I would find letters from Verona giving me some news of the Institute or of our venerable good old Father, who has a great heart and thinks a great deal but writes very seldom. But my hopes were in vain. Which is why, starved as I am of news from Verona, I want to escape a bit from the laconic style I have kept for you until now in the three letters I wrote you from Naples, Palermo and Rome. I would also like somehow to give you an impression of the circumstances of my journey from Verona to Egypt; I assure you that if in the past I did not write to you at length about everything, it was because I was always very busy, occupied with the most important business that Providence has entrusted to me, and with making a success of it.
You are fully aware of the uncertain and not very fortunate outcome of the expedition we made to Central Africa when we left Verona in 1857, five Missionaries and one lay person. Furthermore, you know of the grim outcome of the various expeditions made by Propaganda and the Society of Mary in Vienna to found a Catholic Mission in the Unknown Regions of Africa in order to make the light of Christ’s Faith shine in those vast kingdoms still buried in the darkness and shadows of death.
From all these results one can clearly see how sublime and wise the great plan conceived by our most beloved and revered Superior has turned out to be. In February 1849 he decreed the creation of an indigenous clergy and that the education of young African boys and girls be established in our schools in Europe, so that these natives, taught in the heart of Catholicism in the spirit of our Holy Faith, instructed in religion and civilisation, might then return to their native countries. There, each according to his or her vocation and profession, they would teach and pass on to their fellow countrymen the goodness and the doctrines, both religious and civil, which they had learned in Europe; thus little by little they would form, from the tribes of Africans, both civilised and Christian nations.
He therefore continued to work according to this sublime and very wise plan, the most appropriate and suitable known so far for the conversion of Africa, conceived according to the Church’s spirit. For this sole purpose She founded in the capital of Christendom the Urban College of Propaganda Fide, which accepts young men chosen from all parts of the world. After they have received their ecclesiastical education they are to return to their own native lands, to implant and promote civilisation and religion. Continuing to work, as I said, according to this great plan, in about the middle of last November, our dearly beloved Superior came to hear through the information of a Malabar Missionary just back from the Indies, that a ship of young African slaves, boys and girls, had been captured off the coast of Abyssinia. It had been ferrying them through the Red Sea along the coast of the Arabian desert. The English took possession of it and transported this troop of Africans to their Indian possessions, delivering some of them to the Catholic Missions in Aden, employing them in the production of coffee and oriental spices.
The English acted in accordance with the treaty of 1856 which was stipulated in Paris. In this treaty, the abolition of slavery and the trade in Africans was proclaimed by the congress of the great powers of Europe which had met for the purpose of resolving matters in the Orient. Their wise, charitable and Christian decision prohibits the infamous trade in human flesh, a vile activity which debases and degrades humanity and reduces to the ignoble condition of brutes human beings endowed, like us, with the light of intelligence – itself a reflection of God and a likeness of the Most August Trinity.
It would be horrifying were I to describe the base and ruthless manner in which the poor Africans are wrenched from the womb of their families and sold in the markets of Kordofan and Nubia: but none of this. I will only explain how the accidental circumstance of an English ship on the Red Sea that captured a boatload of these poor Africans who were then taken to the English possessions, seemed to the great Servant of God, our venerable Superior, a propitious disposition of Providence by which God was offering him a means and a way to bring young African girls and boys to our Verona Institutes, a supremely difficult undertaking since the abolition of slavery. Whereupon, as one who always abandoned himself in the loving arms of divine Providence, without being at all upset at the serious problems which arise today in obtaining generous or substantial donations, he decided to send me to Aden to make a good selection of these African creatures scattered about the various English possessions.
After due preparation by the person who supervises and directs our male Institute with tender care and pious industry, when it was the proper time to take four young Africans to Naples since they could not cope with the rigours of Verona’s climate, the time came for me to proceed with the prescribed task.
Therefore, since my trip to Venice where I managed to obtain a passport for the four Africans from His Excellency Baron Togenberg, the Lieutenant of the Venetian regions, had been thoroughly successful, I left the College and Verona on the morning of 26th November last. After crossing the boundaries of the Austrian States and the area bordering Lake Garda, I looked nostalgically towards the shores of my homeland at Limone, where I was born. I stopped in Brescia in the hope of embracing my good and elderly father whom I had a deep longing to see and comfort, since I was undertaking a journey somewhat longer than that between Verona and Avesa. But alas! My hopes were in vain, for a raging storm had blown up on Lake Garda the day before, and to make the journey from Limone and Gargnano was absolutely out of the question. May the Lord be blessed for ever.
At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, after paying my respects to the Bishop of Brescia, to Mgr Tiboni and to my dearest friend, Fr Pelizzari, I left for Milan by the first possible means. That same evening I was cordially welcomed there with the four young men and Fr Luciano, at the Seminary of the Foreign Missions in S. Calocero.My heart was flooded with the sweetest joy at talking to that holy soul, the Rector of the Seminary, and at finding myself among my dearest brothers, student priests in that flourishing garden of Gospel charity where so many generous souls are imbued with the zeal and virtues of the Apostles and Martyrs. They have broken the bonds of nature and blood with pious resolve, overcoming the ostentation of human prosperity and grandeur which a wealth and intelligence could have offered them. Abandoning the joys of their local neighbourhoods, they subsequently scatter all over the face of the earth to raise the standard of the Cross in the numerous kingdoms bent under the burden of Satan’s reign, to rouse them from the deep lethargy in which so many wretched peoples on whom the radiance of the bright star of the Faith has never shone groan oblivious, and to succeed in getting them to worship the Cross.
Then one of these young Missionaries brought me great consolation. Like me, he had been obliged to abandon the open field of his apostolic efforts, but in Oceania. And now fully resigned to the adorable dispositions of heaven, he was occupied, with tireless zeal, in preaching Parish Missions to the people and in the exercise of his priestly ministry. At dawn the following morning I found myself already in Monza, in the College of the Barnabite Fathers where I greeted some of them, who gave me a token of their friendship and support of the work to which I am dedicated.
At 10.00 a.m. I was engaged in a friendly conversation with our beloved friend, the Barnabite Fr Calcagni, Vice Rector of the Royal Longoni College who played a trick on me which I did not fully appreciate. Since he had asked me if he could make a copy of the letter which Mgr Ratisbonne, who was miraculously converted from Judaism to the Faith, had written to me last August from Jerusalem, I gave it to him on the promise that at 1.00 p.m. he would send it to the Seminary of the Foreign Missions. But to my great dismay at the fixed time he sent me a copy of the letter and not the original, enclosing a 20 franc coin and his best wishes for my journey.
I forgave him, with the promise to get my own back on him one day, with interest! At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, having taken my leave of the Missionaries, I was already on the train. After a rapid glance at the fields of Magenta and the Ticino bridge and passing Novara and Alessandria, at 10.00 p.m. I was already having dinner with my Africans at the Christopher Columbus Hotel in Genoa.
On the morning of the 28th, after celebrating the Divine Sacrifice in the Church of the Annunciation, the most beautiful and magnificent in Liguria’s capital, I left the young men with Fr Luciano and did the rounds of the various agencies with steamships bound directly for the two Sicilies, to sniff out something favourable for my purposes. I had already started to negotiate a lucrative contract with the Société Marseillaise, Fraissenet et Frères, from which I obtained a discount of almost half the cost of the passage; but since I was living in uncertainty as to when the steamer which was to take us to Naples would arrive in Genoa, I drew up a contract with the Società Zuccòli, which had a mail boat bound for Naples leaving that very evening, and obtained a discount for all six of us: one third of the cost off for each. We therefore boarded the Stella d’Italia, an excellent Italian steamer, at 9 o’clock in the evening. On board, in the bright moonlight we saw the enchanting spectacle of the view of the Ligurian capital seen from the sea.
Defended from land and sea by the substantial fortifications of nature and art, it has the loveliest location, and its splendid buildings are embellished by a huge semicircular port with two big piers and a gigantic lighthouse that serves as a star to helmsmen at night. This very busy free port acts as a rather large general warehouse for goods of every kind and is one of the busiest trading points in Europe. Having hailed these delightful shores of Liguria, after three hours we had left the pleasant beaches of the magnificent Gulf of La Spezia behind us. The next morning we cast anchor in the port of Leghorn and landed. We celebrated Mass in the cathedral and I looked for the Madonna in the classic style by Fr Giravia (about which the Fathers, his companions, had told me), but I failed to find it since a few months ago it was taken to Pisa by the Italian Government.
At midday the Stella d’Italia set sail from the port of Leghorn. As soon as she had reached the open sea a wind was unleashed against us for more than 25 hours. Consequently the four Africans could eat nothing and had to pay the sea the usual tribute. Not so for me. Because of my travels in the east I have become accustomed to spending whole months on the water; my appetite increased so that at table I made up with relish for my suffering travelling companions. We saw the enchanting islands of Capraia and Gorgona rising from sea-level. We passed very close to Porto Ferraio and the arid, desolate Island of Elba which offered the great Napoleon so squalid and dismal a sojourn.
Two miles from the celebrated prisoner’s gloomy residence, we crossed the Zuavo di Palestro, a Sardinian steamer carrying 1,200 of Garibaldi’s volunteers on their way to their families in Piedmont and Lombardy after their painful efforts in Calatafimi, Palermo, Milazzo and Capua. I asked one of Garibaldi’s officials, Duke Salvatore Mungo who was on board with us and one of the survivors of the thousand that landed at Marsala, for news of Prina, a former pupil at our Institute. He lavished praise upon him as a courageous official. He told me that he was not a colonel, but had distinguished himself in Milazzo. He was returning from the Island of Caprera, where he had been with his Duke, and assured me that it was Garibaldi’s intention to go first to Hungary rather than Venice, which would not shake off its yoke for a few years yet.
During this and the many other topics the “Garibaldino” discussed with me, we reached the straits that separate the famous Island of Procida from the Island of Ischia, beyond which the charming Gulf of Naples unfolds into a marvellous amphitheatre. At 5 o’clock in the afternoon we had already been through formalities with the maritime office of the Parthenopean capital, and when the passports had been returned we were very cordially received at the Palma Institute by Fr Lodovico da Casoria, the director of the African School. During the few days which now kept me in Naples, although I had already met him last year when I had disembarked at Naples, I was nevertheless able to admire and appreciate this good father at close quarters; I am persuaded that he is one of those extraordinary men whom Providence from time to time inspires for the benefit of humanity, and for the spread and increase of God’s glory.
According to what some of the Palma Fathers told me, although Fr Lodovico lived under the banner of St Francis, he had not been formerly a perfect observer of the Rule of his Institute. He had been able to procure for himself many of the comforts of his rich home, he was inclined to be alien to that subordination which a religious ought to show, and he had worldly friendships with several people of high rank, who took a poor view of one of their equals being humiliated by the abject state of an obscure Franciscan. Then he was absolutely contrary to the effort and application of all the Franciscan practices, and delighted only in philosophical and mathematical studies in which he had made enormous progress and which he had spent many years teaching. Stricken by a serious illness, his guardian took this opportunity to face him with his past conduct that did not closely conform to the spirit of the Seraphic Institute, and suggested that were God pleased to restore his health, he give up the way he had been living in religion and promise Mary to reform his habits and behaviour in accordance with the spirit of the Institute in which he had been recruited by his vocation. Then Fr Lodovico came to himself; and offered himself to God with humility of heart, ready for whatever arduous undertaking the Lord would call him to. Divine grace then spread abundantly in the soul of this good Servant of God. Rejecting all that he recognised as secular which did not conform to his religion and distancing himself from it, he spent several years in total retreat. The following are among his achievements, not to mention his many other enterprises.
1. He started a Reform of the Province of Naples, which had somewhat deteriorated, more or less as Blessed Leonard of Porto Maurizio did when he set up the Retreat of St. Bonaventure in Rome. 2. He founded the Institute for Indigenous Missionaries, where priests from all over Italy are gathered to be trained for Mission work and in the Spiritual Exercises. They then scatter all over Italy giving parish Missions free, dependent on the Institute for everything and practising their apostolic ministry only at its command. In the two Sicilies this Institute has done a great deal of good. 3. He founded a large Home for the poor in Naples; then another, to provide instruction for the ignorant. 4. He founded a large Infirmary for all Franciscans in Naples. 5. Finally he laid the basis for a further two African Institutes and opened them, a male Institute administered by the Franciscans and a female one by the Stigmatine Sisters who are totally dedicated to the education of African girls.
All these five great works were at Fr Ludovico’s expense. He is always orderly, like our Superior and maintains them by asking daily for alms. A word about the African schools.
Under the patronage of the late King Ferdinando II and especially authorised by the General Council of the Seraphic Order, the school for Africans, the Institute at La Palma where the Prefect of the Reform movement lives, aims to rescue young people gathered from the African countries from the slavery and wretchedness in which they are ensnared, and to educate and instruct them in the Faith, in Catholic knowledge and in civil arts of all kinds. Well educated, instructed and formed in the Catholic spirit, they return to their countries as adults to spread the Faith of J.C. and Christian civilisation, each according to his profession.
The young Africans who are to be instructed in the Christian Faith and baptised as they arrive from Africa will all wear the Franciscan habit as young pupils, and as such will have the conduct and discipline of young religious. They will be initiated with discreet guidance in the customs of the Seraphic religion, to studies and to crafts. It will be the duty of the father who is the Prefect of La Palma, after examining them and becoming acquainted with the temperament and capacity of the young Africans, to grade them in elementary studies. They must all undertake these until the age of 18, taught by suitable teachers assigned to them by the Prefect, either religious belonging to the Order or lay people of proven knowledge and goodness. However, the latter must be licensed by the Province or the Minister General.
When they have completed their elementary education at the age of 18, the young Africans will be divided into three categories according to their capacity and vocation: Clerics preparing for priesthood, professed laymen who are also craftsmen, and lay members of the Third Order of St. Francis (like Tacuso) who are craftsmen too, but free to embrace the married state. The former two categories will profess servatis servandis the Rule of the Order of Friars Minor. For their regular Novitiate, subject to the Holy See’s approval, they will be under the direction and judgement of the religious community of La Palma, in separate quarters in the same school. They will have suitable premises for the Novitiate where they will be given the appropriate religious education in accordance to the Order’s regulations. Then proceeding to those in the first category who are of the age to be ordained, they will be presented to the respective Ordinary with dimissorial letters from the Province. It is thereby intended that the young Africans will become sons of the Order of Friars Minor assigned to the African Missions by a special understanding. The General of the Order will provide them with what they require for this. Lastly, those in the third category will live in Europe, clothed and professed as Tertiaries of St Francis, and will take part in the school’s affairs and become skilled craftsmen.
When they have received the necessary instruction and institutions, the African priests who are Minors, lay Minors or Tertiaries of St Francis will leave for the African Missions, with the knowledge of both the Principal and the Prefect whenever necessary, and with the “Obedience” of the Minister General of the Order. The Priests as true Missionaries of Christ, the propagators of the Christian faith; the Lay professed at the service of the Priests and who will also be catechists and teachers of the infidel people who will be converted to Jesus Christ; and the Tertiaries, mingling more freely with those peoples under the guidance of the Missionaries, their brothers, in their practice of the crafts and trades they learned at the College, will use them in the service of the light of the Faith.
They will always leave in twos or threes, and will live everywhere like that; never alone. The order will be: a Priest and a Lay person, or a Priest, a Lay person and a Tertiary. In religious profession they will all vow to go to Africa, but an exception will be made for those who are chosen and able to teach in the College of La Palma or serve in this school as officials or for any other valid reason which it is the Superior’s duty to recognise. Fr Prefect will be responsible for devoting all his care to ensuring that as young Africans of any category make good progress in the branches of knowledge or trades, and become capable of being teachers themselves in this same College, then he will appoint them, designating them to the sector that is most compatible with their abilities.
The same applies to the officials such as prefects, cooks, assistants, porters, cellarers or scullery-boys, etc., etc., so that the Seraphic College of the Africans in La Palma gradually becomes a uniform community of young Africans. After the Africans have served in the African Missions, after long years of effort sustained for J.C., whether they are Priests, Lay professed or Tertiaries, if due to old age or illness, or any other valid reason they are no longer able to work at the service of those Missions, when the Superiors of the Province or College have been notified, they should be given shelter and rest in this same College in La Palma.
This is a rough outline of the programme of the Institute of Africans in La Palma. It now has 52 pupils, including the four I have brought. I was satisfied to see ten or twelve workshops of carpenters, tailors, cobblers, weavers, metal workers, farmers, etc., etc., and a lovely pharmacy, with two teachers of medicine and pharmacology. Then there is an enormous garden adjacent to the La Palma College, divided up into numerous plots, destined to produce various foodstuffs and groceries. The young Africans come here every day, after they have been streamed into different classes, to learn how to grow specific foodstuffs and every branch of agriculture. Twenty-two young African girls are now trained with suitable rules for the Missions of Africa. I was amazed by their progress in studies and feminine handicrafts. Last year many examples of the handiwork of these African girls were accepted as exhibits in the City Exhibition of Naples, and won prizes. But I will write about this Institute later.
I was very pleased with the instruction of the African boys in the La Palma College. Sixteen of them are studying humanities and rhetoric (except Greek), four philosophy, and the rest lower grammar school studies. What impressed me most was their orderliness, their silence at the proper times, their exact discipline, their love of exercises of piety, and their desire to be holy and consumed in self-sacrifice for their unbelieving brothers and sisters by those ways in which obedience and their vocation will lead. Is it possible, I said one day to Fr Lodovico, is it possible that the Africans of La Palma are all good? I do not think so, because from what I have been able to discover through the little experience I have with Africans, many are good, but some do not seem capable of piety and the perfect observance of our most holy religion.
Oh! Listen, my dear brother, the Father answered, I founded my school to make Hell into Paradise, so that wicked young people become good. When the Africans came to La Palma, they were devils, and I almost despaired of making them good. But with patience, with constant vigilance, day and night, and with the tireless efforts of my teachers, they are all good and I must thank God that there is not a single one, not one who is bad.
We must not be alarmed if at first we see them as bad, with God’s grace and tireless, fatherly tenderness, everything is overcome. In fact in each group there are two prefects, one of whom watches all night: whenever a young African shows a bad tendency, all the weapons of Christian prudence are directed against it and he is not abandoned until the defect is completely uprooted, so that willy-nilly, with kindness or severity, through love or by force he must give up that vice. However, enough on this topic. I noticed many things with regard to the way the Institute was run, but it would tire you as much to read about them as it would me to write them so, Khalàs.
Let us now have a look at profane things. To tell you something of Naples, I believe it would be impossible to imagine its unique and beautiful situation and the superb sight it offers from any angle. The city is situated to the south-east on the slopes of a long line of hills bordering a gulf which is more than five leagues wide and as long, ending at the sides in two promontories clad in fresh green. The Island of Capri on one side, and that of Procida on the other seem to enclose the gulf, disclosing an immense panorama of the sea between these two islands and the two promontories.
The city seems to crown this delightful bay. One section to the west stands like an amphitheatre on the hills of Polisippo and Antignano. The other stretches towards the east on flatter land, edged by the loveliest villas and houses as far as Mount Vesuvius which, at night, is like a very bright sun whose light is concentrated in its seven mouths which constantly belch forth lava and bitumen. In the centre of this magnificent cliff, all covered in oranges and lemons and every kind of greenery, stands Capodimonte, where the kings have their summer palace and which is close to La Palma. Famous travellers hold that this is the most beautiful view in the world and there is nothing to be compared with the loveliness of such a situation.
If in addition one were to consider the gentle climate, the fertility of the countryside, the beauty of the neighbouring villages and the grandeur of the buildings, the magnificence of its streets all covered with great stone slabs like our Piazza dei Signori, one would be convinced that Naples is one of the most magnificent and pleasant places in the whole world to stay in. The Toledo road runs for a mile and a half in a perfectly straight line, that of Chiaia, which for a long stretch borders the Royal Villa which extends to the seashore where it offers a magnificent view. It is flanked on the land side by well-disposed entrance gates, here and there interspersed with multicoloured tall columns which, to the north-west, form a large semicircle enclosing hundreds of marble statues, copied from the best examples of antiquity and some of the most superb in Europe.
The churches in general are very beautiful and surprising, and display to those who take note of the fervent piety of the Neapolitans who go there and of those who built them. The architecturally modern S. Francesco di Paola, with a wealth of works by the most famous modern artists on the exterior, which faces the great royal palace, is flanked by two porticoes supported by 44 great columns. It is adorned with colossal statues: Religion, St Francis and St Louis, standing in the vestibule formed by 10 great columns and as many pilasters. The perfectly circular interior is an imitation of the Pantheon in Rome.
St. Martino on the St. Elmo Hill, at the foot of the castle which dominates the town, is in a wonderful position. The Gesù Nuovo all decorated with marble, houses the tomb of St. Francesco de Jeronimo, above whose body I celebrated Mass; it is enclosed in a silver casket all encrusted with pearls and precious stones. Together with St. Gaetano, in whose crypt is preserved the body over which I also celebrated Mass, these are all magnificent churches.
But St. Gennaro (Januarius), that is, the cathedral, is the loveliest church in Naples. The interior has three naves divided and sustained by (it seems to me) 18 pilasters and columns that belonged to the idols of pagan times. Without mentioning the other innumerable works of art, I will only mention the chapel of theHoly Patron of the city, known as the treasury. The exterior is adorned by two large statues of St Peter and St Paul and a most beautiful bronze door. The interior is in the form of a Greek cross, the walls are covered in the finest marble and there are 42 columns of marble of Siena and 19 of bronze. It is all decorated with frescos by Domenichino. Behind the main altar in porphyry, in two small cells lined with laminated silver with small doors of the same metal, are kept the head of St. Gennaro and the two phials that contain some of his blood which normally liquefies at least two or four times a year when it is placed in front of the saint’s head, on the three feasts celebrated in honour of the saint in May, September and December, with their respective octaves.
This miracle, which is observed by countless Protestants and infidels, has given birth to and still today produces a great number of believers in Christ’s faith. (Since the last time the miracle occurred was just a fortnight ago, as I heard when I passed through Naples, it seems that it happened about half an hour earlier than usual and many cries could be heard in the church: “Look, look, St Gennaro is pleased with the Republic and wants you, Victor Emmanuel.” Here, with regard to St. Gennaro, I would like to tell you about the extravagant scene that takes place on the day of the miracle. Firstly, supported by a vague and tenuous tradition, the Neapolitans claim they know that certain poor families are descendants of the Holy Patron’s family. Thus the populace is of the opinion that the miracle will only take place if one or more individuals of these descendants of the same blood as St. Gennaro is present.
The beggars are the first to arrive at the wonder-working chapel. A stream of improprieties and invectives precede the miracle. Amongst others the following expressions are shouted: “And who do you think you are St Gennaro, if you don’t want to work the miracle? And you have usurped the title of saint that you didn’t deserve. And why did you cheat those who have so revered you? You’re a good for nothing. And you who have snails’ horns, you’re useless! And what are you doing, cheating poor people? You are a dirty old impostor who is just mocking us… Look at him, look at the face he makes… he is making fools of us and laughing at us… And it would be better to make a fool of you than to let you make fools of us… look at him mocking us and ridiculing us… You just can’t do the miracle, you are useless, get down off that plinth (turning towards the statue). And what do you think you’re doing there, swindler and impostor? You’re not a saint, and you’re not in heaven, you are no good for anything. Come down, come down, and don’t eat at our expense!…” And so on.
Other even stranger things were uttered by those beggars, which it would take too long to describe and which I have forgotten. Really, if someone wrote those things to me I wouldn’t believe them; but those who have been to Naples and know how backward that nation is and indeed, how inclined it is to piety, albeit of a somewhat superstitious kind, would soon believe them. Such things and the like were told to me by reliable persons.
In Naples with Fr Luciano, we visited the most remarkable sights including the catacombs, wider but shorter than those in Rome, the National Museum, the second in the world after the Vatican according to experts, and from the viewpoint that it perfectly illustrates the customs of the ancients with material exhibits, it is the greatest in the world. But it would take five sheets! We visited the grotto of Polisippo, a wonderful underground grotto which houses the tomb of Virgil, lit by candles, etc. Pompei, Herculaneum, etc. But I will write, if I have time, in another letter, as I will on my trips to Palermo and Rome. But I don’t have the time now, because I have just been told that the steamship from the East Indian Company has arrived in Suez from Calcutta and will sail within the week. Tomorrow I am leaving for Cairo and Suez. I will write from Aden, but cum pactu that I do not want to be starved of your letters.
I send an affectionate greeting to all the boys, prefects and clerics at our dear Institute, and I commend myself to their prayers because I am going to have a tough fight with the English. Not to mention the rest, there is an edict posted at the Turkish customs and at the European consulates which prohibits the Consuls and Governors in Alexandria from letting slaves or natives go through without investigating them and knowing where they come from, and without it all being above board. I want to transcribe it this evening before leaving Alexandria. Therefore I need help from on high. But it is not worth worrying about. Christ’s horns are harder than Satan’s, and if God wants the work, neither Englishmen, nor Turks nor devil can oppose it.
Please give my regards to Fr Tomba, Fr Fochesato, Fr Fukesneker, Fr Donato, Fr Clerici, Fr Urbani, Fr Lonardoni, Toffaloni and his son, and all the Priests in the Institute; the cabinet-makers, Marquis and Marchioness Carlotti and the Count and Countess Cavvazocca, Parisi and Morelli. Give my best wishes to the Bishops, etc., etc., and keep me always in the Most Holy Hearts of J. and M., from
Your most affectionate friend,
Give special greetings to my godson Vittorio. I would like to have some news of him. My greetings to the Patuzzi, Biadego and Fontana families, etc. G. Scaùi, who is well, sends you his best wishes, and according to what I have heard, the Missionary Fathers are doing very well. Three violent storms slightly affected my state of health but I am fine now.