Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Ministry Spreads Through Italy (pt 1)

Hey I just learned something neat...my grandparents knew the Di Marcos (Sister Di Marco is mentioned in this next part of the story). But it's funny how they were all from the same region of Italy -Abruzzi /Aquila, yet they didn't meet until they were in Philadelphia. What a small world huh?...that they all happened to come from the same area of Italy, and ended up moving to the same area of America.


(illustration from pg 114, of the 1982 Yearbook)

FYI- if there's anything shown on the map that doesn't coincide with a current map of Italy, it's because this was published in 1981. If you click on the picture for a closeup, you'll see all the towns that were mentioned in the previous posts up in the northern part of Italy. -For the locations mentioned in the following experience, look at the middle of the country where Rome is, and you'll see the province of Teramo above it, (towards the opposite coast on the east) It's the same area where the earthquake occured earlier this year -L'Aquila -which all of the brothers and sisters in the local congregations there managed to survive (since they were given advance preperation instructions by the local brothers in regards to evacuating).
There's quite a few earthquakes in that region which are mentioned in later yearbook experiences, so just to get a better idea of the location, here's a Wikipedia Map with info from the last quake.

The Group At Pratola Peligna
The good news of the Kingdom was first brought to Pratola Peligna, in the province of Aquila, in 1919 by an emigrant who had come to a knowledge of the truth in the United States. This brother, Vincenzo Pizzoferrato, remained faithful to the heavenly calling up to his death in 1951. He worked as a traveling fruit vendor in the nearby towns of Sulmona, Raiano and Popoli, where he would arrive with his barrow loaded down with fruit and literature for distribution. The Divine Plan of the Ages, The Harp of God and other publications were distributed in this way, and a small group of interested persons soon began to gather around him.
In 1924, as he was finishing the distribution of the tract The Return of the Dead Is Imminent near the cemetery of Popoli (Pescara), a priest accompanied by Fascist youths interrupted his activity and marched him off to the police station for questioning. However, as it turned out, the maresciallo (marshal) was very favorable to the message. He called all the carabinieri (national policemen) at the station to come and listen to the brother, so an excellent witness was given and literature was distributed. To ensure that Brother Pizzoferrato would not have any more trouble with the Fascists, the maresciallo had him escorted to the railway station by two policemen.

In 1925, when the assembly was held at Pinerolo, Brother Pizzoferrato attended with his wife and an interested person who became a brother. At that time, there was already a group of about 30 persons meeting together at his home and, later on, when a family built a new house, a room was set aside for use as a Kingdom Hall.
In 1939 the clergy managed to stir up trouble with the authorities, and the brothers found themselves in serious difficulty. The literature was confiscated, and it was forbidden to hold meetings. Brother Pizzoferrato, arrested and tried before the Special Tribunal at Rome, was sentenced to prison. Before long he was released on account of his poor health, and he immediately began spreading the “good news” again, in spite of the danger of another arrest. Thus the local group of brothers was never completely suppressed.

The Group At Roseto Degli Abruzzi
Roseto degli Abruzzi is a village on the coast, in the province of Teramo. The local inhabitants first heard the truth from a sister by the name of Caterina Di Marco. Born at Roseto, she emigrated to the United States where she came in contact with the truth in 1921 at Philadelphia. She was baptized a year later and returned to Roseto degli Abruzzi in 1925. What did she do on her return? The sister narrates:
“As soon as I arrived I began to speak to others about the faith. I even used to distribute tracts and booklets on the beach near the bathing cabins. A certain local man read one of these booklets and exclaimed, ‘Ah! This must be that new religion Caterina has brought back with her from America.’ He wanted to read the rest of the literature in my possession. He did and became convinced it was the truth.” He was the first one, and later other sincere persons followed. Brother DeCecca (one of the early Governing Body members who was sentenced to prison in 1918-1919 here in the US) once described Sister Di Marco as “a veritable sword” wielded against the religious opposers. Although infirm, this 85-year-old sister still continues to maintain her integrity and hold fast to her hope. (as of the time this was published)

Domenico Cimorosi, the first one to come into the truth as a result of her preaching, served as a regular pioneer until he died at the age of 87. A few years before his death, he wrote the following account of how the work began in the area:
“I started talking about the truth to my brother, father, cousin and workmates. In the end about five or six of us were reading the only small booklet I had, Comfort for the People, and checking the scriptures in our Bibles. We decided to go and visit Caterina Di Marco, the lady who had come back from America. We immediately saw the logic of the explanations she gave us and started holding meetings at her home. Although shortly afterward the Fascists tried to find us out, with Jehovah’s help we managed to keep our meeting places secret.”
Religious intolerance was not slow in making itself felt against that small group of sincere persons. “The parish priest sued me for distributing the tract Ecclesiastics Indicted,” relates Caterina Di Marco. “I was acquitted but my troubles were not over. Later on I was arrested for the first time because I did not go to hear a discourse given by Il Duce [the leader, Mussolini]. The magistrate asked me why I had not gone. I replied by quoting the third chapter of Daniel about the three Hebrews who refused to bow down before the golden image. They sentenced me to five years’ exile in another part of Italy.”
Vittorio Cimorosi, the son of Domenico, remembers that the literature was often confiscated during the 1930’s. Nevertheless, a few copies of The Watchtower and some other publications arrived at their destination. He relates: “Brother DeCecca often wrote to my father and other interested ones, sending them spiritual food. He frequently used roundabout expressions to avoid compromising us. Once he wrote, ‘If you do not have “enemies” you will find them at Montone.’ Acting on this suggestion, Brother Guerino CastronĂ  went to the village of Montone where he found a man who had the book Enemies and other literature.”
~end of part one~