An Account of the Persecutions in Italy, Under the Papacy (23/35)

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.

Giovanni Salvagiot, passing by a Roman Catholic church, and not taking off his hat, was followed by some of the congregation, who fell upon and murdered him; and 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.

Anthony Guigo, a Protestant, of a wavering disposition, went to Periero, with an intent to renounce his religion and embrace popery. This design he communicated to some priests, who highly commended it, and a day was fixed upon for his public recantation. In the meantime, Anthony grew fully sensible of his perfidy, and his conscience tormented him so much night and day that he determined not to recant, but to make his escape. This he effected, but being soon missed and pursued, he was taken. The troops on the way did all they could to bring him back to his design of recantation; but finding their endeavors ineffectual, they beat him violently on the road. When coming near a precipice, he took an opportunity of leaping down it and was dashed to pieces.

A Protestant gentleman, of considerable fortune, at Bobbio, being nightly provoked by the insolence of a priest, retorted with great severity; and among other things, said, that the pope was Antichrist, Mass idolatry, purgatory a farce, and absolution a cheat. To be revenged, the priest hired five desperate ruffians, who, the same evening, broke into the gentleman’s house, and seized upon him in a violent manner. The gentleman was terribly frightened, fell on his knees, and implored mercy; but the desperate ruffians despatched him without the least hesitation.

A Narrative of the Piedmontese War

The massacres and murders already mentioned to have been committed in the valleys of Piedmont, nearly depopulated most of the towns and villages. One place only had not been assaulted, and that was owing to the difficulty of approaching it; this was the little commonalty of Roras, which was situated upon a rock.

As the work of blood grew slack in other places, the earl of Christople, one of the duke of Savoy’s officers, determined, if possible, to make himself master of it; and, with that view, detached three hundred men to surprise it secretly.

The inhabitants of Roras, however, had intelligence of the approach of these troops, when captain Joshua Gianavel, a brave Protestant officer, put himself at the head of a small body of the citizens, and waited in ambush to attack the enemy in a small defile.

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 6

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