ITALY - female Christian martyrs

Fox's Book of Martyrs

Chapter 6 

 

Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century

 

1) Magdalen, the daughter of Peter Fontaine, a beautiful child of ten years of age, was ravished and murdered by the soldiers.

 

2) Another girl of about the same age, they roasted alive at Villa Nova;

 

3) and a poor woman, hearing that the soldiers were coming toward her house, snatched up the cradle in which her infant son was asleep, and fled toward the woods. The soldiers, however, saw and pursued her; when she lightened herself by putting down the cradle and child, which the soldiers no sooner came to, than they murdered the infant, and continuing the pursuit, found the mother in a cave, where they first ravished, and then cut her to pieces.

 

4) Seven persons, viz. Daniel Seleagio and his wife, (text) had their mouths stuffed with gunpowder, which being set fire to, their heads were blown to pieces.

 

5) Two poor old blind women, of St. Giovanni, were burnt alive;

 

6) and a widow of La Torre, with her daughter, were driven into the river, and there stoned to death.

 

7) Magdalene de la Piere being pursued by some of the soldiers, and taken, was thrown down a precipice, and dashed to pieces.

 

8) Margaret Revella, and Mary Pravillerin, two very old women, were burnt alive;

 

9) and Michael Bellino, with Ann Bochardno, were beheaded.

 

10) The son and the daughter of a counsellor of Giovanni were rolled down a steep hill together, and suffered to perish in a deep pit at the bottom.

 

11) A tradesman's family, viz.: himself, his wife, and an infant in her arms, were cast from a rock, and dashed to pieces; and Joseph Chairet and Paul Carniero were flayed alive.

 

12) Margaret Saretta was stoned to death, and then thrown into the river;

 

13) Daniel Maria, and his whole family, being ill of a fever, several papist ruffians broke into his house, telling him they were practical physicians, and would give them all present ease, which they did by knocking the whole family on the head.

 

14) an elderly widow, named Judith, was beheaded, and a beautiful young woman was stripped naked, and had a stake driven through her body, of which she expired.

 

15) Lucy, the wife of Peter Besson, a woman far gone in her pregnancy, who lived in one of the villages of the Piedmontese valleys, determined, if possible, to escape from such dreadful scenes as everywhere surrounded her: she, accordingly took two young children, one in each hand, and set off towards the Alps. But on the third day of the journey she was taken in labor among the mountains, and delivered of an infant, who perished through the extreme inclemency of the weather, as did the two other children; for all three were found dead by her, and herself just expiring, by the person to whom she related the above particulars.

 

16) Francis Gros, the son of a clergyman, had his flesh slowly cut from his body into small pieces, and put into a dish before him; two of his children were minced before his sight; and his wife was fastened to a post, that she might behold all these cruelties practiced on her husband and offspring. The tormentors at length being tired of exercising their cruelties, cut off the heads of both husband and wife, and then gave the flesh of the whole family to the dogs.

 

17) Judith Revelin, and seven children, were barbarously murdered in their beds; and a widow of near fourscore years of age, was hewn to pieces by soldiers.

 

18) A soldier, attempting to ravish a young woman, named Susanna Gacquin, she made a stout resistance, and in the struggle pushed him over a precipice, when he was dashed to pieces by the fall. His comrades, instead of admiring the virtue of the young woman, and applauding her for so nobly defending her chastity, fell upon her with their swords, and cut her to pieces.

 

19) Giovanni Pulhus, a poor peasant of La Torre, being apprehended as a Protestant by the soldiers, was ordered, by the marquis of Pianesta, to be executed in a place near the convent. When he came to the gallows, several monks attended, and did all they could to persuade him to renounce his religion. But he told them he never would embrace idolatry, and that he was happy at being thought worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. They then put him in mind of what his wife and children, who depended upon his labor, would suffer after his decease; to which he replied, "I would have my wife and children, as well as myself, to consider their souls more than their bodies, and the next world before this; and with respect to the distress I may leave them in, God is merciful, and will provide for them while they are worthy of his protection." Finding the inflexibility of this poor man, the monks cried, "Turn him off! turn him off!" which the executioner did almost immediately, and the body being afterward cut down, was flung into the river.

 

20) Mary Monino had her jaw bones broke and was then left to anguish till she was famished.

 

21) Mary Pelanchion, a handsome widow, belonging to the town of Vilario, was seized by a party of the Irish brigades, who having beat her cruelly, and ravished her, dragged her to a high bridge which crossed the river, and stripped her naked in a most indecent manner, hung her by the legs to the bridge, with her head downwards towards the water, and then going into boats, they fired at her until she expired.

 

22) Mary Nigrino, and her daughter who was an idiot, were cut to pieces in the woods, and their bodies left to be devoured by wild beasts:

 

23) Susanna Bales, a widow of Vilario, was immured until she perished through hunger;

 

24) Susanna Calvio running away from some soldiers and hiding herself in a barn, they set fire to the straw and burnt her.

 

25) Constantia Bellione, a Protestant lady, being apprehended on account of her faith, was asked by a priest if she would renounce the devil and go to Mass; to which she replied, "I was brought up in a religion by which I was always taught to renounce the devil; but should I comply with your desire, and go to Mass, I should be sure to meet him there in a variety of shapes." The priest was highly incensed at what she said, and told her to recant, or she would suffer cruelly. The lady, however, boldly answered that she valued not any sufferings he could inflict, and in spite of all the torments he could invent, she would keep her conscience pure and her faith inviolate. The priest then ordered slices of her flesh to be cut off from several parts of her body, which cruelty she bore with the most singular patience, only saying to the priest, "What horrid and lasting torments will you suffer in hell, for the trifling and temporary pains which I now endure." Exasperated at this expression, and willing to stop her tongue, the priest ordered a file of musqueteers to draw up and fire upon her, by which she was soon despatched, and sealed her martyrdom with her blood.

 

26) A young woman named Judith Mandon, for refusing to change her religion and embrace popery, was fastened to a stake, and sticks thrown at her from a distance, in the very same manner as that barbarous custom which was formerly practiced on Shrove-Tuesday, of shying at rocks, as it was termed. By this inhuman proceeding, the poor creature's limbs were beat and mangled in a terrible manner, and her brains were at last dashed out by one of the bludgeons.

 

27) A number of soldiers went to the house of Joseph Garniero, and before they entered, fired in at the window, to give notice of their approach. A musket ball entered one of Mrs. Garniero's breasts, as she was suckling an infant with the other. On finding their intentions, she begged hard that they would spare the life of the infant, which they promised to do, and sent it immediately to a Roman Catholic nurse. They then took the husband and hanged him at his own door, and having shot the wife through the head, they left her body weltering in its blood, and her husband hanging on the gallows.

 

28) Mary Revol, a worthy Protestant, received a shot in her back, as she was walking along the street. She dropped down with the wound, but recovering sufficient strength, she raised herself upon her knees, and lifting her hands towards heaven, prayed in a most fervent manner to the Almighty, when a number of soldiers, who were near at hand, fired a whole volley of shot at her, many of which took effect, and put an end to her miseries in an instant.

 

28) Several men, women, and children secreted themselves in a large cave, where they continued for some weeks in safety. It was the custom for two of the men to go when it was necessary, and by stealth, procure provisions. These were, however, one day watched, by which the cave was discovered, and soon after, a troop of Roman Catholics appeared before it. The papists that assembled upon this occasion were neighbors and intimate acquaintances of the Protestants in the cave; and some were even related to each other. The Protestants, therefore, came out, and implored them, by the ties of hospitality, by the ties of blood, and as old acquaintances and neighbors, not to murder them. But superstition overcomes every sensation of nature and humanity; so that the papists, blinded by bigotry, told them they could not show any mercy to heretics, and, therefore, bade them prepare to die. Hearing this, and knowing the fatal obstinacy of the Roman Catholics, the Protestants all fell prostate, lifted their hands and hearts to heaven, prayed with great sincerity and fervency, and then bowing down, put their faces close to the ground, and patiently waited their fate, which was soon decided, for the papists fell upon them with unremitting fury, and having cut them to pieces, left the mangled bodies and limbs in the cave.

 

29) Jacob Barrel and his wife, having been taken prisoners by the earl of St. Secondo, one of the duke of Savoy's officers, he delivered them up to the soldiery, who cut off the woman's breasts, and the man's nose, and then shot them both through the head.