Edited by William. Byron Forbush This is a book that will never die — one of the great English classics. . . . Reprinted here in its most complete form, it brings to life the days when “a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid,” “climbed the steep ascent of heaven, ‘mid peril, toil, and pain.” “After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time, it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.”
Fox’s Book of Martyrs is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century Part 3
Some of the Irish troops having taken eleven men of Garcigliana prisoners, they made a furnace red hot and forced them to push each other in until they came to the last man, whom they pushed in themselves.
Michael Gonet, a man of ninety, was burnt to death; Baptista Oudri, another old man, was stabbed; and Bartholomew Frasche had holes made in his heels, through which ropes were put; then he was dragged by them to the jail, where his wounds mortified and killed him.
Magdalene de la Piere being pursued by some of the soldiers, and taken, was thrown down a precipice, and dashed to pieces. Margaret Revella, and Mary Pravillerin, two very old women, were burnt alive; and Michael Bellino, with Ann Bochardno, were beheaded.
The son and the daughter of a counselor of Giovanni were rolled down a steep hill together and suffered to perish in a deep pit at the bottom. 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.
Cypriania Bustia, being asked if he would renounce his religion and turn Roman Catholic, replied, “I would rather renounce life, or turn dog”; to which a priest answered, “For that expression, you shall both renounce life, and be given to the dogs.” They, accordingly, dragged him to prison, where he continued a considerable time without food until he was famished; after which they threw his corpse into the street before the prison, and it was devoured by dogs in the most shocking manner.
Margaret Saretta was stoned to death, and then thrown into the river; Antonio Bartina had his head cleft asunder, and Joseph Pont was cut through the middle of his body.
# For the preservation of the papal authority.
# That the church livings may be all under one mode of government.
# To make a union among all parties.
# In honor of all the saints, and of the ceremonies of the Church of Rome.
This severe edict was followed by a cruelest order, published on January 25, A.D. 1655, under the duke’s sanction, by Andrew Gastaldo, doctor of civil laws. This order set forth, “That every head of a family, with the individuals of that family, of the reformed religion, of what rank, degree, or condition soever, none excepted inhabiting and possessing estates in Lucerne, St. Giovanni, Bibiana, Campiglione, St. Secondo, Lucernetta, La Torre, Fenile, and Bricherassio, should, within three days after the publication thereof, withdraw and depart, and be withdrawn out of the said places, and translated into the places and limits tolerated by his highness during his pleasure; particularly Bobbio, Angrogne, Vilario, Rorata, and the county of Bonetti.
“And all this to be done on pain of death, and confiscation of house and goods, unless within the limited time they turned Roman Catholics.”
A flight with such speed, in the midst of winter, maybe conceived as no agreeable task, especially in a country almost surrounded by mountains. The sudden order affected all, and things, which would have been scarcely noticed at another time, now appeared in the most conspicuous light. Women with child, or women just lain-in, were not objects of pity on this order for sudden removal, for all were included in the command; and it unfortunately happened, that the winter was remarkably severe and rigorous.
The papists, however, drove the people from their habitations at the time appointed, without even suffering them to have sufficient clothes to cover them; and many perished in the mountains through the severity of the weather, or for want of food. Some, however, who remained behind after the decree was published, met with the severest treatment, being murdered by the popish inhabitants, or shot by the troops who were quartered in the valleys. A particular description of these cruelties is given in a letter, written by a Protestant, who was upon the spot, and who happily escaped the carnage. “The army (says he) having got footing, became very numerous, by the addition of a multitude of the neighboring popish inhabitants, who finding we were the destined prey of the plunderers, fell upon us with an impetuous fury. Exclusive of the duke of Savoy’s troops, and the popish inhabitants, there were several regiments of French auxiliaries, some companies belonging to the Irish brigades, and several bands formed of outlaws, smugglers, and prisoners, who had been promised pardon and liberty in this world, and absolution in the next, for assisting to exterminate the Protestants from Piedmont.
“This armed multitude being encouraged by the Roman Catholic bishops and monks fell upon the Protestants in a most furious manner. Nothing now was to be seen but the face of horror and despair, blood stained the floors of the houses, dead bodies bestrewed the streets, groans and cries were heard from all parts. Some armed themselves, and skirmished with the troops; and many, with their families, fled to the mountains. In one village they cruelly tormented one hundred and fifty women and children after the men were fled, beheading the women, and dashing out the brains of the children. In the towns of Vilario and Bobbio, most of those who refused to go to Mass, who were upwards of fifteen years of age, they crucified with their heads downwards; and the greatest number of those who were under that age were strangled.”
Sarah Ratignole des Vignes, a woman of sixty years of age, being seized by some soldiers, they ordered her to say a prayer to some saints, which she refusing, they thrust a sickle into her belly, ripped her up, and then cut off her head.
Martha Constantine, a handsome young woman, was treated with great indecency and cruelty by several of the troops, who first ravished, and then killed her by cutting off her breasts. These they fried, and set before some of their comrades, who ate them without knowing what they were. When they had done eating, the others told them what they had made a meal of, in consequence of which a quarrel ensued, swords were drawn, and a battle took place. Several were killed in the fray, the greater part of whom were those concerned in the horrid massacre of the woman, and who had practiced such an inhuman deception on their companions.
Some of the soldiers seized a man of Thrassiniere, and ran the points of their swords through his ears, and through his feet. They then tore off the nails of his fingers and toes with red-hot pincers, tied him to the tail of an ass, and dragged him about the streets; they finally fastened a cord around his head, which they twisted with a stick in so violent a manner as to wring it from his body.
Peter Symonds, a Protestant, of about eighty years of age, was tied neck and heels, and then thrown down a precipice. In the fall the branch of a tree caught hold of the ropes that fastened him, and suspended him in the midway, so that he languished for several days, and at length miserably perished of hunger.
Esay Garcino, refusing to renounce his religion, was cut into small pieces; the soldiers, in ridicule, saying, they had minced him. A woman, named Armand, had every limb separated from each other, and then the respective parts were hung upon a hedge. Two old women were ripped open, and then left in the fields upon the snow, where they perished; and a very old woman, who was deformed, had her nose and hands cut off, and was left, to bleed to death in that manner.
A great number of men, women, and children, were flung from the rocks, and dashed to pieces. Magdalen Bertino, a Protestant woman of La Torre, was stripped stark naked, her head tied between her legs, and thrown down one of the precipices; and Mary Raymondet, of the same town, had the flesh sliced from her bones until she expired.
Magdalen Pilot, of Vilario, was cut to pieces in the cave of Castolus; Ann Charboniere had one end of a stake thrust up her body; and the other being fixed in the ground, she was left in that manner to perish, and Jacob Perrin the elder, of the church of Vilario, and David, his brother, were flayed alive.
An inhabitant of La Torre, named Giovanni Andrea Michialm, was apprehended, with four of his children, three of them were hacked to pieces before him, the soldiers asking him, at the death of every child, if he would renounce his religion; this he constantly refused. One of the soldiers then took up the last and youngest by the legs, and putting the same question to the father, he replied as before, when the inhuman brute dashed out the child’s brains. The father, however, at the same moment started from them, and fled; the soldiers fired after him, but missed him; and he, by the swiftness of his heels, escaped, and hid himself in the Alps.
# That he should be led by the executioner, naked to the middle, through the streets of Rome.
# That he should wear the image of the devil upon his head.
# That his breeches should be painted with the representation of flames.
# That he should have his right hand cut off.
# That after having been carried about thus in procession, he should be burnt.
When he heard this sentence pronounced, he implored God to give him the strength and fortitude to go through it. As he passed through the streets he was greatly derided by the people, to whom he said some severe things respecting the Romish superstition. But a cardinal, who attended the procession, overhearing him, ordered him to be gagged.
When he came to the church door, where he trampled on the host, the hangman cut off his right hand and fixed it on a pole. Then two tormentors, with flaming torches, scorched and burnt his flesh all the rest of the way. At the place of execution, he kissed the chains that were to bind him to the stake. A monk presenting the figure of a saint to him, he struck it aside, and then being chained to the stake, fire was put to the fagots, and he was soon burnt to ashes.
A little after the last-mentioned execution, a venerable old man, who had long been a prisoner in the Inquisition, was condemned to be burnt, and brought out for execution. When he was fastened to the stake, a priest held a crucifix to him, on which he said, “If you do not take that idol from my sight, you will constrain me to spit upon it.” The priest rebuked him for this with great severity; but he bade him remember the First and Second Commandments, and refrain from idolatry, as God himself had commanded. He was then gagged, that he should not speak any more, and fire being put to the fagots, he suffered martyrdom in the flames.
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