Five letters sent by Valeriano Berna from Pinerolo

Capuchin missions in the Piemonte region of Italy

Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

Translation by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

Translator’s note: This translation is based on the introduction, text and footnotes which were published by P. Costanzo Cargnoni O.F.M. Cap. In I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze dell primo secolo, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, vol III/2, pp.4183-4201.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

1. To Carlo Emanuel I

2. To Clement VIII

3. To Carlo Emanuele I

4. To Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini

5. To Clement VIII

Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

Valeriano Berna da Pinerolo (+ 1617) established the Capuchin missions in the Piemonte region. Born in 1552 he was Provincial of Geneva from1589 to 1591. While he was travelling through the valleys near Pinerolo where he was Guardian in 1595, he came across a situation in which the few Catholics who were still there had been left to fend for themselves. They had been without a priest for five years and were living amongst Valdensians and Calvinists who attacked them, ridiculed them confronted and persecuted them. The missionary charism of his Franciscan vocation moved him to approach various religious and civic authorities to persuade the to set up a Capuchin mission in the valleys in the Piemonte region.

The first three Capuchin preachers were invited at the beginning of 1596 with each one being accompanied by a friar who was a simple priest. Valeriano Berna and Maurizio da La Morra went to Perreno and Perosa in the valleys of San Marino and Peroa and Stefano da Gambalὸ a Demonte to Stura. A year later, in 1597, a fourth friar, Father Filippo Ribotti da Pancalieri arrived and the mission was extended to Dronero and the entire valley of Macra.

Without being detailed reports, some of the letters contained here give the modern reader an insight into the difficulties encountered at the beginning and the prospects for missionary activity in the various areas. They also show the need to involve the religious and civic authorities. They are a testimony to the perceptive insight of Valeriano Berna as well as his humble Franciscan conviction that there were better days ahead. The letters were sent to the Duke of Savoy, to the Pope and to his nephew (nn. 1-5).

Source: ASV, Savoia 32, f. 340r-341r (Pinerolo, 13 marzo 1596); Savoia 29, f. 92r (Torino, 2 nov. 1596); Savoia 34. F. 104r-105r (Pinerolo), 3 febbr. 1597); Borghese III, vol. 590, f. 78r (Dronero, 10 agosto 1598); Borghese, vol. 715, f. 66r-70v (Dronero, 19 nov. 1598). – All these letters are handwritten and we have taken them, while reading from the originals, from the series of documents in the appendix of the unpublished work of Mariano Biamonte, I cappuccino e la restaurazione Cattolica in Piemonte. Dieci anni di attività nelle valli eretiche (1595-1605), Roma 1969, 364-367, 372s, 375-377, 382s, 386-392; the first two letters were published in M. Grosso-M. F. Mellano, La controriforma nella arcidiocesi di Torino (1558-1610). III. I monastery femminili e il governo dell’arcivescovo Carlo Broglia, Roma 1957, 153-156.

1. To Carlo Emanuel I

[Pinerolo, 13th March 1596]

7620 Most Gentle Lord.

Praised be the Lord.

Last Sunday the new Provost of Peré came to the house where we three Capuchins are living. He and the entire Catholic population were singing psalms and hymns. From Peré which is near Santo Martino, we are sending an account of what happened.[1] He went through some of the towns that are controlled by heretics but which also have some Catholic inhabitants to take possession of the churches that the heretics have held for many years. It happened so peacefully that the Catholics burst into tears.

Captain Trono, who is the officer in charge, gave us the keys and came in with us. He listened to the sermon that I preached and attended the Divine Office very reverently. We placed your Lordship’s edict and a copy of your exhortation you provided for all the churches on the door after the Provost had taken legal possession.[2]

We smashed the evil throne of error that was there and solemnly set it on fire in the square. Captain Trono, who used to be a heretic, prepared a meal and gave some to all who wanted it. He engaged them in conversation and exhorted them to return to the Catholic faith. Finally, he assured me that he would return to the Catholic faith and said he hoped to soon come to Pinarolo to do this.[3] Amongst many other things I told him that that it would please you and that you would be even more pleased to see that he was helping me by his actions to bring many of those who lived here back to the faith. It would be good for you to congratulate him by awarding some title he could add to that of captain. If you just sent him a few lines it would make him very happy.

7621 Most Gentle Lord, I go through the mountains every day after lunch going to one place where the heretics live one day and to another place the next speaking to them in a friendly way in an effort to bring them back to the holy faith. I have found that nine out of ten of them have been forced to become heretics because their lives were threatened, and they had been robbed and they now come back to the faith but are then once again threatened. There are some who have no idea of what being Catholics is, so their names are recorded, and I ask them to come to the sermons and deal with them as if they were catechumens. It would seem that these people have always been at odds with their ministers as I said in my other message [340v]; I usually also invited the ministers to come.

For a number of days, I had entertained the hope that one of the ministers called Henry would attend the sermons. However, he wanted to keep on doing that he was doing. I heard that he did not want to do anything else because he did want to enter into discussing things. I decided to go and meet him. Like many of the heretics he ran away in a state of confusion. This made me decide to go and take possession of the church of Santo Martino where he had been preaching.

I came to know that he went to live in Inverso because he did not dare live here. Together with many others he tried to persuade people to live in error saying that the present situation would not last for long. I heard that his son, David, who was also a minister, had written to Perone in Pragellato.[4] He made out that he had received a letter from Perone stating that he would soon receive help. This was to help overcome the fear of threats concerning religious matters.

7622 Your Lordship I ask you whether it is necessary to publish the edict. As you know I have asked the Governor to do this. He replied that he had not received a command about this and so I am asking for it once again.

Last Sunday, while we were occupied with what I have mentioned above, at my request the Inquisitor came to the Parish of Pinasca in our Valley to receive twenty heretics back into the church.[5] By the grace of God the number of Catholics, especially traditional Catholics, is really increasing. With the Lord’s help and our diligent care this will continue and fulfil our Lordship’s wishes and produce abundant fruit.

Forgive me if I have gone on for too long but I thought you wanted to be kept up to date with all that was happening and that you would be able to read this at some quiet period. I shall conclude now asking the Lord to grant you good health and a long life.

You most affectionate and humble servant in Christ
Brother Valeriano Berna, Capuchin.

2. To Clement VIII

[Turin, 2nd November 1561]

7623 Your Holiness.

Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness and kissing your feet, on behalf of the people in these poor valleys, I thank you for the gift of one hundred scudi which will be used to make some chalices, altar clothes and vestments in fulfilment of what I promised Your Holiness I would do when I came back to Rome. I am really grateful. I want to use the other three thousand scudi, which are more than enough, in the two Valleys of Santo Martino and Perroza where there are ten churches that have been restored in accord with what we believe after they had been severely damaged. In some only the wall remained intact while others needed various repairs. The Abbot Tritonio will give you more details when he returns to Rome.[6]

Your Holiness. you have shown that you are very enthusiastic about the work going on in the missions. However, it is also very important that Your Holiness should restore harmony within them. There are some people here who are apathetic and it would be very helpful if you were to stimulate them especially by removing ministers and not allowing ministers who are tainted with heresy to be appointed to these Valleys.[7]

Furthermore, Your Holiness will be aware that the Valleys of Pragellato and Cheras, that are in France, have suffered greatly because up to now the King of France has done nothing for them. It is certain that if the King gave the order the wayward ministers would have to leave and the Valley of Cheras would immediately become Catholic.[8]

7624 We Capuchins who are assigned to the missions go out there to work for the honour of God, the progress of the Holy Church and the growth of the Catholic faith. Some people are influenced by our preaching and what we are teaching. Others, who are keen about what heretics preach, become disturbed and go about like someone who has a pistol strapped to his side and enter into debate with our ministers in order to crush them. We approach them with trepidation simply bearing the Name of Jesus: sicut oves in medio luporum.[9] However, (O how great is God’s providence), when they hear our arguments, they become enthralled, put down their weapons and their frenzy and their preachers become confused and do not know what to say. They adjure heresy for the glory of God and become ashamed.[10]

In my name and in the name of my companions I humbly thank Your Holiness for the favours you have granted us and for the authority that you have conferred on us in the Valleys.[11] I hope that from time to time the Lord that He will give you the grace to receive congenial and consoling news from the Nuncio and that this will give you the same joy that comes to a shepherd when he brings his sheep home.

I now conclude but not without kissing your feet and asking God to grant you all that is good.

From Turin 2nd November 1596
To Your Holiness

Your most humble servant in Christ
Father Valeriano Berna Capuchin

3. To Carlo Emanuele I

[Pinerolo, 3rd February 1597]

7625 Your Most Gentle Lordship.

When Father Filippo[12] arrived I received what you had sent with him for the Fathers in the valleys as well as the contribution for the Catholics and those who have come back to the faith. On their behalf I thank you very much. I only wish to add that the gift you gave for our support is more than enough. In accordance with our Rule we would not be able to use if you do not grant permission to do so. Therefore, I ask your Lordship to grant permission to make use of this very generous gift to provide clothing or other similar needs for the priests in the valleys, or to help the poor. This would free us from any scruples.[13] The people have high hopes of coming to an agreement on how to use the gift in a way that is satisfactory to everyone.

Yesterday I came from Draonero to Pinarolo to visit our friars.[14] I can assure Your Lordship that I was very happy to find that in addition to meeting up with many who had already returned to the Catholic faith there was a group who were prepared to lead the entire town back to the holy faith with the help of a letter you might write to the local governor asking him to play a role in this work and to personally encourage people to attend the sermons delivered by the preachers.

7626 I say this because word has gone around, not only here, but also throughout the valleys, that the preachers were not sent by your Lordship and that you were not concerned about it or worried about obliging people to belong to the holy faith,[15] and that all this has been fabricated by the priests and the friars. The Provincial discovered that in this place [104v] there were many who were not attending Mass or living a Catholic way of life only because they had been disturbed and convinced by those who had doubts concerning the faith. Now, having recognised their mistake, go to Mass and live a Catholic lifestyle. There is a large number doing this. The churches are so full that it would seem that heresy had never existed. The leaders still remain somewhat obstinate. In addition to being heretics they practice atrocious usury. If the governor cannot persuade them to change, they should be prosecuted for usury.

Moving on to Busca, with the consent of the Governor, I brought three of the people who live there back to the faith. You Lordship also needs to give directions what should go on in these valleys. The people of Masello in the Valley of Santo Martino continue to earnestly wish to be Catholics, but according to what I heard, they want your Lordship to send out preachers and remove their minister.[16]

7627 One day when the Catholics were giving alms, when we assembled a large number of heretical women and children for a few hours to instruct them about Catholic teachings the group joined many Catholics and walked to the church following the banner of the cross and singing hymns about Catholic teachings.

Captain Trono, renewed his marriage vows in the church and had his children baptised. The more he demonstrated that he was a Catholic the more the heretics despised him. Since his Lordship Ieromimo Truchieto is loved and admired in the Valley, not only because he a member of the City Council, but because he was the one who brought the Valley back to obeying Your Highness, it is appropriate for him to live in the Valley for a while so that he could sweetly [105s] and lovingly persuade his subjects as wells the subjects of other Lords to attend the sermons by telling them that this is what Your Highness would like them to do.

7628 I have nothing more to say concerning the valley of Perosa except that our priests do not preach, work there or involve themselves in promoting the glory of God. I know that Your Highness knows about the distress and disrespect that Santo Germano inflicted on the preacher, and the cruelty that Captain Gialer perpetrated towards the minister David al Dubione. Therefore, I will not mention that because I know how much that upset you and that you will grasp the opportunity to put things right.[17]

However, I will suggest what is the appropriate remedy there and in other similar circumstances. I think it would be essential that Coronelo Ponte, who is our Governor, move to Perosa, call a meeting of the Valley Council and inform them on your behalf that the faithful are obliged to attend the sermons when preachers go to their region in the same way that the people who live in Perosa and Dubione were obliged to do.

7629 I humbly beg Your Highness to do what I ask because if you do not do it both I and the other preachers are afraid that we are working in vain. We spoke about this in detail when the Inquisitor was here and he will inform you about this.

Therefore, while we beg our Lord to grant you the peace you long for so that in union with the gentle Infant Your Highness may work for the honour of God and the growth of the Church in fulfilment of what you have desired for years, namely, growth on earth and crowning in heaven. I end with this and offer you complete respect.

Sent from Pinarolo 3rd February 1597
To Your Most Gentle Highness

Your humble servant in Christ
Brother Valeriano Capuchin.

4. To Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini

[Dronero, 10th August 1598]

7630 Most Illustrious and Reverend Monsignor and Devout Father in Christ.

By means of this letter I wish to assure you of my humble reverence and at the same time to fulfil my duty of informing you on behalf of the other priests in the mission of the disruption being caused by the heretics in the territory of the Duke of Savoy where we have worked at the risk of losing our lives. Although we laboured assiduously at the task, we had little success because people were being harassed by the heretics who were living near them. Your Highness has always promised to give all the help that is possible and to implore God to send them the peace that they desire and hope for.

However, although the poor state of Marchesato is in need of so much help not only to be cleansed of heresy, which would be very easy and which could be achieved by simply giving a command, it is also necessary to see that the people are assisted to become enlightened so that they might find a way to change their bad behaviour. This cannot happen without reprimanding the clergy and repairing the abandoned churches. All of this can be achieved, with God’s help, by observing what was recommended by the Holy Council of Trent.[18]

Although, by the grace of God, peace has been achieved by his Holiness declaring who rules Marchesato, it is also necessary that you give the Nuncio who will reside in Marchesato[19] full authority to remove the heretics in order to make sure that peace will prevail. I hope you will inform him of this.

With this, kissing your vestments, I am approaching you once again as one of your lowly servants who assures you of his prayers.

Sent from Dronero, 10th August 1598
Your most affectionate and humble servant in Jesus Christ

Brother Valeriano Berna Capuchin.

5. To Clement VIII

[Dronero, 19th November 1598]

7631 Most Holy Father, greetings.

At the beginning of his conversion the Seraphic Father St Francis received this divine revelation: Vade, Francisce, repara domum meam quae labitur (Francis, go and rebuild my house because it is falling down).[20] Following in his footsteps and burning with zeal for the salvation of souls I, and some of our priests, have now spent three years in obedience to what Your Holiness commanded embracing the difficult work of preaching the holy faith to heretics in the Valleys which are under the jurisdiction of the Duke of Savoy as well as in other areas that are infected with heresy in the marquisate of Saluzzo.

In the beginning we worked assiduously to strengthen the faith of the poor Catholics winning back many to the bosom of the holy Church. However, when the scourges of war struck, we had little success and because the environment was so dangerous, I often asked Your Grace for permission for myself and the others to withdraw to our friaries. This was not considered to be wise because it made the heretics more daring and shocked the Catholics. When it looked like peace was near, we offered all kinds of assistance.[21]

7632 To the glory of God, peace came to the region.[22] However, the way things are now the situation does not appear to be peaceful. The heretics are more insolent. If any of them come to hear us preach they are punished and if some of them become Catholics they are threatened with death. The heretics here have joined up with heretics from Pragellato so that there is little or no hope of gaining fruit in those Valleys. I spent two years there. Then, following orders from the Nuncio, I came to the marquisate of Saluzzo to a place called Dronero, which the locals call Little Geneva and I live there at present. It is not called by that name because everyone who lives there is a heretic: only a quarter of the population are heretics. It is not because the Governor is a heretic since the son of the Lord of Manta has been Governor for many years. You know that illustrious knight quite well and have sent him a pastoral letter with your blessing. I need say no more except that I have often been told that since war was declared, his influence has grown and that he has promised […] to remove all the heretics from his jurisdiction and become a Catholic.[23]

7633 I believe that it is certain that he did this so that everyone would respect him […] and that to preserve peace he had all the leaders in Catholic areas removed as this would please you and the Nuncio. There is no doubt that this is why people who live in Geneva call the place Little Geneva. I see that this will actually be true if you do not do something. With tears in my eyes, I can tell you that the heretics have twice tried to take control of this area [66v] with the intention of having the hub of authority moved to Piemonte in order to infect Italy.

This is first of all because many of the refugees whom Your Highness drove out of various parts of Piemonte because they were heretics who had evil and perverse ideas came to live in Dronero and control everything. At present, because others have been forced to move out of their houses for the same reason, they too intend to come here. When I questioned them, they said that freedom of conscience was permitted in this marquisate and, unless the prince gave the order, no one should be turned away and this is why the place is becoming more infected.

Secondly, there is the matter of books. Heretical and prohibited books are in circulation throughout the area. In this marquisate they are read quite freely both within groups or individually, both at home and outside the home, in the presence of Catholics as well as among the heretics themselves. These books a full of lies and insults aimed at Jesus Christ, His Most Holy Sacraments. They call the Holy Church Babylon, the prostitute and other similar malicious names which, out of respect, I shall not repeat. Because of the heretics are firmly established in their duplicity, they corrupt those who are simple or stupid and sow doubts in the minds of those who are faithful.

7634 Thirdly, there are unjustifiable marriages between Catholics and heretics that have been solemnised by the Curate using the rites of the Church. This would mean that either the husband has persuaded the wife to have this kind of ceremony or the other way around with both being happy to do it this way. I also declare, that sometimes after the promises have been made, the Catholic, in order to be affable has contracted marriage before a heretical minister. When this has happened, I know that sometimes the children have been baptised by the heretical minister against the orders of the prince who though he might permit them to carry out certain act of their false religion, has never allowed the Catholic party to live in conformity to a sect that is heretical.

Fourthly, they allow teachers who are suspect with regard to the faith to instruct their children, agreeing that the child be educated according to the ideas of either the father or the mother, that is either as Catholics or heretics. The mothers have most of the say in this so that even if the father is a Catholic, the whole family lives a heretical way of life. I know that many children who have been baptised in the Church turn to heresy.

Fifth, there are many notaries who are living a heretical lifestyle even though when they took up office or were confirmed in office they took an oath based on the Catholic faith and so they are guilty of perjury. [67r] When they speak out, they are enemies of the Holy Church.

Sixth, among themselves they agreed not to listen to Catholic sermons. Even worse, in order to justify themselves before the masters of the house, they make up dreadful lies against the preachers to ruin their reputation so that heresy may gain more ground than the holy faith.

7635 Seventh, the terms of loans around this area are exorbitant. Catholics feel guilty and unable to approach the Sacrament and this makes it harder for the Catholics to prepare the heretics to become Catholics.

There is a very beautiful church in Ottava where there are many chapels that have bare altars because the decorations that were on them have been sold so that the heretics, that is their ministers, can benefit from this. Because the church has no residence for a pastor it is under the care of priests who work for money and are uneducated. I want to speak up on behalf of this church and say that it would be good to provide it with a good pastor because it needs both vestments and supervision.

When you have the opportunity take action both to invoke the assistance of the Most Illustrious Nuncio of the marquisate and to reform both the clergy and the people. Also make use of every method and means possible to bring the heretics back into the bosom of the Church so that the heretics will not continue punishing the innocent by still doing what I have mentioned to Your Holiness.[24] It is up to the Nuncio to personally see to this. However, he will be subjected to a lot of controversy and opposition, which will sometimes be a great nuisance but should not be an excuse when he is called on to defend the honour of God, the holy faith and the salvation of souls.

7636 The leaders should also be told that they should deal with many things that are wrong. Even though Your Holiness has approved freedom of conscience you never intended what they are saying. I know for certain that you would never have meant what they are saying. […] Many of the official leaders who have been informed of what is wrong have given their approval and been very slow to reprove anyone saying that they are not going to restrict freedom of conscience lest they provoke some reaction from people. When they do not know what to say they say that they want to wait to see what Your Holiness has to say.

It seems certain to me that this is a trick of the Devil. The heretics want to condemn the Church [67v] going back on what they had promised the prince and so they say that there will be a danger of a public rebellion, because the Catholics were very shocked when they saw that the heretical ministers had not been punished. There is almost one heretic to every thousand Catholics and it seems to me that it would be an injury to your high state for Your Holiness to maintain any heretics as officials in your states. Rather, one can see the effects that follow and everything that the Most Illustrious Nuncio has begun to do whether it be punishing the delinquents or repairing so much of what has gone wrong has not received the response that it deserved and the heretics have gone on saying strongly and incorrectly that the Church authorities have only done what they have done in order to make money and not in order to save souls. The monsignor of Manta has said that there is no doubt that the issues that were brought up were fabricated by priests and friars and when they were frightened for doing that they protected themselves by making sure that neither Your Holiness nor the Nuncio knew about this.

7637 Most Holy Father, if it was ever a proper time to perform a holy work it is now because God has made these princes restore the control of these marquisates to you by permitting the Nuncio to reside there. You should command him to spare nothing but to provide all that is necessary until everything has been achieved for the glory of God. I believe that there will never be a better opportunity to prevent the missions being frustrated by the hostility of the heretics for if this marquisate is ruined it will soon affect the whole of Italy as has occurred in other in other regions and states and al the good work that the Duke has done will then be blocked and have been done in vain.[25]

Finally, then, prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness with tears in my eyes, I beg Your Holiness to inform the Duke of Savoy about the great criminal outrages committed by a few of the heretics in the marquisate. This applies especially to Dronero [68v] where they say that they are abusing the Sacraments, particularly Baptism and Marriage, causing damage by importing books written by heretics, foreigners and heretical notaries, and those who have lapsed. False minsters have been appointed and children educated falsely and people have been maliciously prohibited to attend Catholic sermons all under the pretext of defending the principle of freedom of conscience. All of this is a serious offense against God and the Holy Church, and causes great damage to souls. They emphatically commands those who are living a Catholic way of life in the Marquisate, and who are living under obedience to the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church, to vacate their homes.

7638 With regard to the Valleys of Lucerna, Angrogna, Perosa, Santo Martino, so that the missionary priests may take care of the poor souls who have been deceived, command that the heretical minister must leave those states and that the people are obliged to attend the sermons that are preached by the preacher that you send. If any of them persist in their errors let them know that they are not allowed to live in the Piemonte Plain in order to feed their flocks in winter as was their practice. At present this would be the best thing to do and something that some of the heretics would accept.

To let you know the number of heretics that live in the Marquisate I shall send Your Holiness the names of the infected areas, with the number of homes, and a list of foreigners in Dronero, a list of marriages between Catholic and heretics, a list of notaries who have sworn by the Catholic faith. I have done this to justify what I have said should anyone wish to contradict me.[26] If Your Holiness thinks that it is not proper to take action at present, I ask permission for our priests to withdraw to their friaries because there is no hope of obtaining the desired fruit, and they cannot abide seeing God dishonoured and put to shame by your officials by the reports they send to Your Holiness or the Nuncio.[27]

7639 I also aske that what I have written not be judged to be presumptuous since I have done all of this to clear my conscience and if I have made a mistake, because of excessive zeal, I ask pardon of the Lord God and of Your Holiness.

I shall continue to pray for Your Holiness to the Lord Jesus Christ so that He will grant you the grace to purify the Marquisate of these poor heretics in order to save Italy since His Divine Majesty has granted Italy the favour of having such a great Ruler of the Holy Church, who in such troublesome times will bring peace to Christian princes. Humbly kissing your feet, I ask your blessing.

From Droneto 19th November 1598.
Of your beatitude

Your humble servant in Jesus Christ
Brother Valeriano Berna Capuchin.

  1. Peré or Perrero and San Martino, two spots in the Valley of Germanasca which are on the river that flows through Chisone, which is also called S. Martino.
  2. The letter that Carlo Emanuel I (+ 1630) sent to all who were living in the valley is dated 19th February 1596 while the edict is dated the following day. The texts of both the letter and the edict are contained in the report by Francesco da Moncalieri that was written in 1628. Cf. below n. 7709 (letter of exhortation) and n. 7734 (edict). See also Mattia Ferreri da Cavallermaggiore, Rationarium chronographicum missionis evangelicae etc., pars prima, Augustæ Taurinorum 1655, 271s.
  3. This was because the Inquisitor who would receive the official abjuration resided there.
  4. Claude Perron was the pastor of the Reformation church at Pragelato in the same Valley between 1564 and 1570 and again from 1589 to 1617, Cf, Bona Pazé Beda-Percarlo Pazé, Riforma e Cattolicesimo in val Pragelato 1555-1685, Pinerolo 1975, 357 (see in the word in the index).
  5. Pinascea in a place in the lower part of Chisone in the Valley of Perosa.
  6. One of the points made in the report that was compiled by the Capuchin missionaries towards the end of May 1596 which Father Valeriano Berna sent to Cardinal Aldobrandini, said: “The Nuncio of Turin commands that the churches in the Valley be rebuilt if they have been destroyed and that what is required for divine cult is to be provided.” (ASV, Savoia 33 f. 497r). Ruggero Tritonio was the thirteenth Abbot (1589-1606) of the Abbacy of S. Maria di Pinenio. In a report to the same Cardinal, dated 1st September 1596, he gave a detailed description of the religious situation in the Valleys of San Martino and Perosa regarding both the construction, repair and furnishing of the places of worship. It concluded with this request: “When what is involved in matters of religious requirements is put in writing three new things emerge for Villar, San Germano and Prambollo, not to mention Pinasca and Porte. The command that your Holiness has provided has made it possible to procure chalices and vestments.” (ASV, Savoia 28, f, 201r).
  7. In his report Valeriano Berna said: “Your Holiness should ask the Lord Duke to prohibit heretical ministers preaching in these states. This would mean that all the ministers would usually be Catholic.” (ASV, Savoia 53 f. 497s).
  8. The same thing appeared in the report sent by Father Valentino: “Ultimately Your Holiness ought to tell the King of France to appoint Catholic preachers in the Pragelato Valley and remove the heretical preachers. You should let him know clearly that those places also come under the jurisdiction of Your Holiness which will not be effective while heretics are preventing the work of the restoration of the faith in nearby valleys.” (ibid. f 493v). Trionio said the same thing in his report. (ASV, Savia 28, f. 20v).
  9. Mt 10: 16; Lk 10: 3.
  10. San Felice da Cantalice described sufferings and penance saying “Son rose e Fiori”.
  11. The faculties that were given to the missionaries are listed in a letter that Cardinal Santori sent to the Nuncio of Savoia, G. Cesare Riccardi, Anchbishop of Bari, on 20th April 1596, which is contained in the Semplice relazione by Father Francesco di Moncalieri. Cf. below n. 7706. Mattia Ferreri da Cavallermaggiore give a lengthy list of the faculties in his Ratioarium chronographicum cit., pars prima, 84-198.
  12. Father Filippo Ribotti da Pancalieri came to join the first three missionaries. He took up residence at Perosa. Cf. a collection of his letters below in nn. 7640-7672.
  13. Note the spirit of poverty and zeal for observance of the Rule.
  14. Dronere is situated at the head of the Valley of Macra.
  15. This fact is explained fully in the letter that Filippo da Perosa sent on 26th May 1597. “My journey to Turin and the hermitages of Fr Berna and to various priests in the valleys at Pinarolo on the occasion of the visit of our Father Provincial provided the heretics with a great opportunity. The ministers in Pragelato were able to say that in your letter to Captain Cattino, you had appointed them and there was a need for your Lordship to write another letter to prevent them from having control over us in the valley because your Lordship did not want there to be any disturbance.” (ASV, Savoia 34, f. 75r).
  16. Masello, which is dialect for Marcello, is a small town a few kilometres from Pere in the Valley of S. Martino.
  17. Father Francesco speaks about these insults in his Semplice relazione, p. 12 (cf. below, nn. 7723-7726).
  18. It was a basic principle of the Council that the Christian people would not be reformed unless the clergy were reformed.
  19. Keep in mind the situation at that time. When Carlo Emanuele I waged war in Provenza in 1590 to restore the reign of Arles and thus promote his own interests he caused such an amount of jealousy among certain Princes that he forced Lesdiguiéres, the General of the Huguenots, to block the advance of the Duke who had to seek assistance from Spain and Clement VIII. He was then able to succeed in recapturing certain important fortresses. However, on 17th September 1595, the Pope absolved Enrico IV and the Spanish Duke had to make peace with the King of France. When peace was declared at Cateau-Cambrésis in May 1598 who would be in command of the Saluzzese Plain was left up to the judgement of the Pope and he chose the Duke of Savoy in order to promote the vast mission that had been established in the Saluzzese Plain and some of the Valleys of Pinerolo some years ago by the Jesuits and the Capuchins. His nephew Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini was put in charge. On 17th January 1601 the Treaty of Lyons assigned the Marchesato marquisate to the Duke, while the French King was given the rich Provinces beyond the Alps including the Valleys of Bressa, Bugey and Gex, between Lyons and Geneva.
  20. Cf. 2 Cel. 10; Major Legend 2. 1. Valeriano da Pierolo who established the Capuchins in Piemonte is revealing the charismatic motivation that produced his missionary zeal.
  21. War always limited or interrupted the work of the missions.
  22. He is referring to the peace declared at Vervins in which the Duke of Savoy reinstated all the states invaded by France with the Marquisate of Saluzzo being left up to the judgement of the Pope. However, the heretics wanted more basing their claims on the Edict of Nantes. A retort made by Father Stefano da Garralὸ and written down on 1st November 1598 by Father Valeriano places strong emphasis in such heretical insolence: “… The heretics laughed at what was said against them and at what had been written and ordered by Rome, especially what pertained to not contracting marriage with Catholics. They thus led Catholic women to deny their faith out of ignorance,” (ASV 36, f. 125r).
  23. Note how politics is always dirty. The dots in brackets here and below indicate that the text is corrupt or illegible.
  24. That is, as will be set out in detail below, abusing the Sacraments, circulating heretical books, appointing foreign, heretical notaries, installing false ministers, teaching heresy to children and stopping people from listening to sermons.
  25. This line of reasoning was that strong and appropriate that in 1794, which was a century and a half later, the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith had to admit that “if the Piemonte is now almost completely Catholic in the first place we should thank God, secondly the vigilance of this Congregation and thirdly the zeal of the Capuchins who, since this Congregation began to operate, have spent themselves in cultivating the vineyard of Christ and making it produce abundant fruit as is clear from what is contained in these archives.” Cf. Zeffirino Signetto da Tonengo, Se il Piemonte … P. Mattia Ferreri da Cavalermaggiore, OFM Cap., missionario e storico, Alba 1963, 20.
  26. This is actually a long “list of areas that are infected with heresy in the marquisate of Saluzzo” which contains sixteen places. Dronero appears to be the most infected with a third of the population being heretics. There is also “a list foreign heretics who are living in Droneto, and who are the heads of families. These number 38. Half of those who live on the plain between Piemonte and Verzuolo are heretics. In addition to that there is a list of 32 “marriages between Catholics and heretics in Dronero” as well as “a list of 19 notaries who have taken the Catholic oath and are living as heretics in Dronero and the Valley of Maira.” There is also a list of children who were baptised by Catholic priests in the Church and who had either heretical fathers or heretical mothers and were raised as heretics in Dronero. There 132 of these who both boys and girls. Cf. ASV, Borghese I, vol 715. ff. 69r-70v.
  27. The situation was so bad that a missionary would gladly be withdrawn to the peaceful atmosphere of his friary where he could pray and do penance awaiting better times. These are recurrent “temptations” that were also described by Father Ignazio da Casnigo when he spoke about Rezia in a letter. Cf. below n/ 7951.