My dearest friend,
In succinct, telegraphic style… What can I say, I waited until the last moment and then for unforeseen circumstances I was not able to master more than a few minutes before the mailing deadline. Let this be a lesson for the next time.
And what is new? We are really in bad shape. The political situation goes from bad to worse. The perfidious machinations of the man from Alexandria1 are now beginning to show themselves in a shameful nakedness. Oh you men of expediency, the terrible time will come when the devil will take his opportunity and take you carcasses away. The Lord does not pay on the Sabbath.
What are we clerics going to do? Let us renew those beautiful times of old when the priesthood gained the respect of the people for its vibrant faith and profound charity. Today we have no more than a faint reflection of that apostolic faith and of that old charity. Saint Paul: Oh what a great and exemplary figure of Christianity! Delaude, let us embrace in the Lord and when we are about to become one with Him in the mystical union of the Eucharist, let us transform each other. Christ in our hearts can give great value to our nothingness, just as the number One before a string of zeros can make a very large number of their nothingness; eventually through Him we can be elevated to the Infinite. Prayer, meditation, and violence; continuous violence against ourselves… and at every hour that passes let us cry out with Saint Theresa: “Take courage, one hour less to fight.” The knights of the Middle Ages were always on guard lest a moment’s cowardice would deprive them of the glory they had acquired in long years. We also must keep on guard all around, our hand on the hilt and our eye fixed in heaven. Take courage, my friend, and remember the day of Saint Peter’s celebration.2
All yours, Marello
PS. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Sunday I will be in Turin for a visit to the city of my birth. If you can come, we may meet for sure either at the High Mass in the Cathedral or at any other time in a public place. If not, I will have you with me in spirit as I’ll offer my prayers at the Shrine of Consolation3 where the Mother of God receives the vows and strengthens the resolutions of her beloved children. Remember me in your prayers. Goodbye.
Urbano Rattazzi, born in Alexandria (a city just south of Asti) in 1808, died in Frosinone in 1873. Twice prime minister of the Italian Government (1852 — 1867), he became famous for his anticlerical policies. The fears that Marello expresses in this letter are well founded: on August 15, 1867, Rattazzi had Parliament approve a law by which many religious Orders and Institutes were abolished and their properties confiscated. The surviving religious institutions, except the local parishes, were taxed 30% of their income and assets. The Church reacted by threatening excommunication of anybody who bought these confiscated Church properties without express permission of the Holy See. ↩
On June 29, 1867, the 18th centenary celebrations of the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul were held in Rome. The newly ordained bishop of Asti, Carlo Savio, was also present. ↩
The famous shrine of our Lady “Comfort of the Afflicted” in Turin, not far from the house where Marello was born. ↩