Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Italian Brothers & Sisters Are Imprisoned

the following info (continued from the account in the previous post) is on pgs 169-173 of the 1982 Yearbook.

Brothers In Prison
Besides giving us an example of courage and faith, the experiences of the brothers who underwent imprisonment during the war years show that Jehovah’s loving assistance never failed them. They zealously continued to speak to others about the “good news” inside prison, and even there they underwent persecution from the clergy.

Santina Cimorosi of Roseto degli Abruzzi, who was 25 years old at the time of her arrest, relates:
“They took us away to the police station saying that we were a danger to the State because we did not agree with the war. My father [Domenico Cimorosi] was put into one cell and I was put into another. The cells were dark inside. The carabiniere switched his torch on to show me where there was a wooden bunk to sleep on. Then he shut me in. When I heard the sound of the door being locked, a wave of discomfort and fear swept over me. I began to cry. I knelt down and prayed to Jehovah out loud. Little by little my fear ebbed away and I stopped crying. Jehovah answered my prayer by sending me strength and courage, and I realized that, without his help, I was nothing at all. I passed the night in prayer and the next morning I was taken to the prison at Teramo, where I was put in a cell with my father, Caterina Di Marco and three other brothers—six of us in all.
“From time to time, we were questioned to find out who our ‘leaders’ were. They often asked me, ‘Are you still a Jehovah’s Witness?’ and naturally I always answered, ‘Yes!’ They tried to frighten me by saying I would never be let out of prison anymore, but I trusted in Jehovah and his power to help me. Later on, an altar was placed in front of my cell door. They had it put there especially for my benefit, and for several weeks the priest continued to say Mass there. The door of my cell would be left open, either to see if I wanted to go back to the Catholic Church, or in the hope that I would disturb the service and merit a longer sentence. But I stayed quietly in my cell as though nothing were going on outside and thanked Jehovah for helping me to act wisely. Seeing that I did not react, they removed the altar sometime afterward and the priest did not come anymore.”

Brother Dante Rioggi, who had learned the truth from Brother Marcello Martinelli, related: “In prison I was not allowed to write to my relatives or anyone else. My literature, money and wristwatch were taken away. From November [1939] to the end of February, I shivered with cold, because not only was the cell unheated but the window had no glass in it. I was not even given a change of clothing, and soon I was reduced to a miserable, repulsive creature afflicted with parasites. Two or three times I was visited by priests who assured me that if I were to return to my parents’ religion I would be freed. I applied to the questura [police headquarters] and obtained a Bible. Thereafter I drew courage from the example of faithful men who had kept their integrity even at the risk of their lives and had been blessed by Jehovah. Prayer was another means of strengthening my faith in Jehovah’s promises.”

Brother Domenico Giorgini, a brother who has been faithful in the service for over 40 years and is still serving as an elder in a congregation in the province of Teramo, relates: “It was October 6, 1939. While we were in the vineyard gathering the grape harvest I saw a truck with two carabiniere officers pull up before my house. They took me back to Teramo prison, and there I stayed for five months. Then I was sentenced to three years’ exile on the island of Ventotene. There I found myself in company with five other brothers and about 600 political prisoners. In this latter group there were a number of well-known political personalities, including a man who later became president of the Republic, and I had the privilege of witnessing to them about God’s kingdom. Since the Fascist government considered many of these political prisoners particularly dangerous, the island was kept under strict surveillance. It was patrolled by a motor launch armed with a machine gun ready to open fire on anyone trying to escape.”

Sisters In Prison
Sister Mariantonia Di Censo, sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment by the Special Tribunal, narrates: “I shall never forget the words of the examining magistrate. He said: ‘I have read their literature to find out what it was all about and I have questioned the 26 accused. They are all coherent with their beliefs and ready to accuse themselves to save their companions. The situation is not so serious as it was thought to be. The clergy have made too much fuss over the matter.’”
Sister Di Censo served her sentence at Perugia. Another sister imprisoned at Perugia was Albina Cuminetti, who died faithful to the heavenly calling in 1962. In a written account we are told: “Once another prisoner asked Albina what she had done. Albina replied, ‘I haven’t done anything. We are in here because we refuse to kill our fellowman.’
“‘What!’ the woman exclaimed, ‘You are in here because you refuse to kill? How many years have they given you?’
“‘Eleven,’ replied Sister Cuminetti.
“At this the other cried: ‘What next? They have given you 11 years for refusing to kill your fellowman, and yet they have given me 10 years for killing my husband. That’s the limit. Either I am crazy or they are!’”
“One day,” the account adds, “Albina had the opportunity of witnessing to the prison governor in the presence of a nun charged with the surveillance of the prisoners.”

Letters From The Prison Governor
In 1953, when Sister Cuminetti and the other three sisters with whom she had been in prison met at an assembly, they wrote a letter to the prison governor at Perugia. In the meantime he had been transferred to Alessandria, but he eventually received the letter and sent back this significant reply dated January 28, 1954:

“Dear Madam,
“Thank you for the kind things you said about me in your letter. You had all been sentenced for an nonexistent crime and I am very happy to know that, in the very city where you were brought for trial, Rome, you have been able to meet together again, this time to sing the praises of your God Jehovah at your assembly.
“If you have the occasion to see or correspond with the other ladies who suffered so much for the God in whom they believed and continue to believe, please remember me to them. I shall always remember you and admire your faith and strength of character.
“Thanking you for the book you sent me, I remain,

Dr. Antonio Paolorosso,
Governor in Chief of the Alessandria Penal Establishments”

“The tested quality of your faith,” wrote the apostle Peter, is, “of much greater value than gold.” (1 Peter 1:7) The brothers who maintained their integrity under persecution recognize that these difficulties served to strengthen them.