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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Don Giovanni Bosco

Don Giovanni Bosco

John Bosco was born on the 16th of August 1815, in Becchi, a hamlet belonging to the municipality of Castelnuovo d'Asti (today Castelnuovo Don Bosco). He came from a family of poor farmers. He lost his father, Francesco, at the age of two.
His mother Margherita raised him with tenderness and energy. She taught him to cultivate the soil and to see God behind the beauty of the heavens, the abundance of the harvest, the rain which showered the vines. Mamma Margherita, in the church, learned to pray, and she taught her children to do the same. For John, to pray meant to speak with God on his knees on the kitchen pavement, to think of him while seated on the grass, gazing at the heavens.
From his mother, John learned to see God also in other faces, those of the poor or those of the miserable ones who came knocking at the door of the house during winter, and to whom Margherita gave hot soup, mended shoes.
The great dream

At the age of nine, Don Bosco had the first, great dream which marked his entire life. He saw a multitude of very poor boys who play and blaspheme. A Man of majestic appearance told him: With meekness and charity you will conquer these your friends; and a Lady just as majestic added: Make yourself humble, strong and robust. At the right time you will understand everything.
The years which followed were given direction by that dream. Son and mother saw in it the indication of a way of life.
John tried immediately to do good for boys. When the visiting performers trumpet announced a local feast in the nearby hills, John went and sat in the front row to watch them. He studied the jugglers, tricks and the acrobats secrets. One Sunday evening, John gave his first performance in front of the kids from the neighbouring houses. He performed balancing miracles with pots and pans on the tip of his nose. Then he jumped up on a rope strung between two trees, and walked on it applauded by the young spectators. Before the grandiose conclusion, he repeated for them the sermon he heard at the morning Mass, and invited all to pray. The games and the Word of God began transforming his little friends, who willingly prayed in his company.
Little John understood that to do good for so many boys he needed to study and become a priest. But his brother Anthony, already 18 and an unlettered peasant, did not want to hear of this... He threw away his books and belted him.
On a cold morning of February 1827, John left his home and went to look for work as a farm-servant. He was only 12 but life at home was unbearable on account of the continuous quarrels with Anthony. He worked on the Moglia farm, near Moncucco, during three years. He led the cattle to pasture, milked the cows, put fresh hay in the manger, plowed the fields with the oxen. During the long nights of winter time and during summer, sitting under the trees while the cows stripped their leaves, he went back to his books and studies.
Anthony married three years later. John returned home and resumed his schooling, first at Castelnuovo and then at Chieri. To provide for his needs he learnt different trades: tailor, blacksmith, barman, and he even coached students after classes.
He was intelligent and brilliant, and the best students of the school flocked around him. He founded what was known as the Happy Club.
At 20 years of age, John Bosco took the most important decision of his life: he entered the Seminary. There followed six years of intense studies after which he was ordained priest.

He becomes Don Bosco

On June 5, 1841, the archbishop of Turin ordained John Bosco a priest. Now Don Bosco (in Italy the family name of the priest is preceded by Don) was finally able to dedicate himself full time to the abandoned boys he had seen in his dreams. He went to look for them in the streets of Turin. On those first Sundays - says young Michael Rua, one of the first boys he met in those first months, Don Bosco went through the city to become aware of the moral conditions of the young. He was shocked. The outskirts of the city were zones of turmoil and revolution, places of desolation. Unemployed, sad and ready to do anything adolescents caused problems on the streets. Don Bosco could see them betting on street corners, their faces hard and determined, as if to get their way at any cost.
Near the city public market (Turin had a population of 117.000 inhabitants at that time) he discovered a real market of young workers. The part near Porta Palazzo, he wrote years later swarmed with peddlers, shoe polishers, stable-boys, vendors of any kind, errand boys: all poor people who barely eked out a living day after day. These boys who roamed the streets of Turin were the wicked effect of an event that was throwing the world into confusion: the industrial revolution. This started in England but it soon crossed the English Channel and made its way to the South. It would bring a sense of well-being unheard of in previous centuries, but it would be at a very high human cost: the labour question and the gathering of great number of families below the poverty line in the slums of the cities, coming in from the countryside in search of a better life.

Boys in prison

But Don Bosco met the most dramatic situation when he entered the prisons. he wrote: To see so many boys, from 12 to 18 years of age, all healthy, strong, intelligent, insect bitten, lacking spiritual and material food, was something that horrified me. In the face of such a situation he made his decision: I must by any available means prevent boys ending up here. There were 16 parishes in Turin. The parish priests were aware of the problem of the young but they were expecting them to go to the sacristies and to the Churches for the required catechism classes. They did not realize that because of population growth and migration to the city this way of doing things was inefficient. It was necessary to try new ways, to invent new schemes, to try another form of apostolate, meeting the boys in shops, offices, market places. Many young priests tried this.
Don Bosco met the first boy on December 8, 1841. He took care of him. Three days later there were nine, three months later twenty five and in summer eighty. They were pavers, stone-cutters, masons, plasterers who came from far away places, he recalled in his brief Memoirs.
Thus was born the youth centre (which he called oratorio). This was not simply a charitable institution, and its activities were not limited to Sundays. For Don Bosco the oratorio became his permanent occupation and he looked for jobs for the ones who were unemployed. He tried to obtain a fairer treatment for those who had jobs, he taught those willing to study after their days work.
But some of his boys did not have sleeping quarters and slept under bridges or in bleak public dormitories. Twice he tried to provide lodgings in his house. The first time they stole the blankets; the second they even emptied the hay-loft.
He did not give up though, being the obstinate optimist he was. In the month of May, 1847, he gave shelter to a young lad from Valesia, in one of the three rooms he was renting out in the slums of Valdocco where he was living with his mother. I had three lira when I arrived in Turin said the boy sitting near the fire, but I found no work and no place to sleep.

Money problems

After the youngster from Valsesia, another six boys arrived that same year. In the first months money became a dramatic problem for Don Bosco. It would remain a problem throughout his life. His first benefactor was not a countess but his mother. Margaret (Mamma Margherita), a 59 year old poor peasant, had left her house at Becchi to become mother to these poor boys. To be able to put something on the table, for them to eat, she sold her wedding ring, her earrings and her necklace, things which she had kept jealously until then. The boys sheltered by Don Bosco numbered 36 in 1852, 115 in 1854, 470 in 1860 and 600 in 1861, 800 being the maximum some time later.
Some of these boys decided to do what Don Bosco was doing, that is, to spend their lives in the service of abandoned boys. And this was the origin of the Salesian Congregation. Among the first members we find Michael Rua, John Cagliero (who later became a Cardinal), John Baptist Francesia.
In the archives of the Salesian Congregation some extraordinary documents, are to be found, such as: a contract of apprenticeship on ordinary paper, dated November 1851; another one on stamped paper costing 40 cents, dated February 8, 1852; there are others with later dates. These are among the first contracts of apprenticeship to be found in Turin. All of them are signed by the employer, the apprentice and Don Bosco.
In those contracts Don Bosco touched on many sore spots. Some employers made servants and scullery-boys of the apprentices. Don Bosco obliged them to employ them only in their acknowledged trade. Employers used to beat the boys. Don Bosco required of them that corrections be made only through words. He cared for their health, he demanded that they be given rest on feast days, that they be given their annual holidays. But in spite of all the efforts and contracts, the situation of the apprentices of the time remained very difficult.

Bashing leather and pushing an awl

In autumn 1853 Don Bosco came to a decision. He begun shoemaking and tailoring shops in the Oratory at Valdocco. The shoemaking shop was located in a very narrow place near the bell-tower of the first church he had just finished building. There Don Bosco sat at a cobblers bench and in front of four little boys he pounded away at a leather sole. Then he taught them how to manage an awl and pack-thread.
After these shops for shoemakers and tailors, Don Bosco built other shops aimed at training book-binders, carpenters, printers and mechanics; six shops in which the privileged place was reserved for orphans, the poor and totally abandoned boys. To take care of these shops Don Bosco invented a new type of religious: the Coadjutors or Salesian Brothers. Similar shops were very soon built in other Salesian presences outside Turin. The Salesian Brothers have the same dignity and rights as those of the Salesian Priests and clerics, but they are specialized people for professional schools. (At the time of Don Bosco's death, the Salesian professional schools numbered 14 in all. They existed in Italy, France, Spain and Argentina. The number later would grow to 200 across the world).

Password: At once

In the dialogue between Don Bosco and the first boy (he himself wrote this dialogue) there is the expression at once. It looks like an ordinary expression but in reality it is Don Bosco's password. In fact Don Bosco is drawn to action by the urgent needs of the young and the impossibility of waiting any longer. In the face of the incertitude of the industrial revolution, in the impossibility of finding good and ready made plans and programmes of action, Don Bosco and the first Salesians used all their energies to do something at once for young people in trouble. What directed their programmes of action were the urgent needs of the youngsters.
And young people needed a school and a job that would guarantee a more secure future for them; they needed to feel as if they were really boys, that is, they needed to let loose their desire to run and jump in open green spaces, instead of feeling sad beside city sidewalks; they needed to meet God to discover and live according to their dignity. Bread, catechism, professional training and work protected by a good work contract were the things therefore that Don Bosco and his Salesians tried to offer right away to these youngsters. If you come upon somebody who is dying of hunger, instead of giving him a fish, teach him how to fish, it has rightly been said. But the contrary is also true: If you come upon somebody dying of hunger, give him a fish so that he may have the time to learn how to fish. Immediate intervention is not enough nor is it enough to prepare a different future because meanwhile the poor may die of misery.

I have done nothing

In the following years, Don Bosco, working almost to exhaustion, accomplished many imposing works. Besides the Salesians, he founded the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Salesian Cooperators. He built the Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians at Valdocco and founded 59 Salesian houses in six nations. He started the Salesian Missions in Latin America sending there Salesian priests, brothers and sisters. He published a series of popular books for ordinary Christians and for boys. He invented a System of Education founded on three values: Reason, Religion and Loving kindness. Very soon people saw in it an ideal system to educate the young. When somebody would tell Don Bosco the list of the works he performed, he would interrupt the person and immediately say: I have done nothing by myself. It is the Virgin Mary who has done everything. She had traced out his road in the famous dream he had when he was nine.
Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888, at dawn. To the Salesians who were keeping vigil around his bed he said in a whisper these last words: Love each other as brothers. Do good to all and evil to none... Tell my boys that I wait for them all in Paradise.
Don Bosco's message

After one hundred years Don Bosco has still a message for any youngster. The following could be his words:
I was a person like you. I tried to give meaning to my life. With God's help I decided against having my own family to become a father, a brother and a friend to those who do not have a father, brothers or friends.
If you want to be like me we will walk together sharing our life with people living in South American shanty towns, with lepers in India or with so many poor people living in the slums of an Italian city: people deprived of affection, of meaning in life, poor people who need God and you to go on living. In any case, if you do not feel like living as I did, I still want to remind you of a very important truth: life, this great gift which comes from God, is to be spent well. You will spend it well if you do not hide egoistically in your shell but open yourself to love, committing yourself to the good of the one who is poorer than you.

The First Prophecy

God alone is almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing. God has neither past nor future; everything is present to Him, everything at a single point of time. Nothing eludes God. No person, no place is distant from Him. In His infinite mercy and for His glory He alone can unveil the future to man.

On the vigil of the Epiphany of this year, 1870,2 all material things in my room disappeared, and I found myself contemplating supernatural matters. It was only a matter of an instant, but I saw a great deal. Although what I witnessed was sensibly present, I find it extremely difficult to communicate it to others intelligibly, as one may realize by what follows. This is the Word of God in human parlance:

"War will come from the south,3 peace from the north.4

"The laws of France no longer recognize the Creator. The Creator will reveal Himself by visiting her three times with the scourge of His wrath.5 The first time He will destroy her pride by defeat, pillage, and destruction of crops, cattle, and men.6 On His second visit the great whore of Babylon, which the faithful grievingly call Europe's brothel, shall lose her leader and fall prey to chaos.7

"Paris! Paris! Instead of fortifying yourself with the Lord's name, you surround yourself with houses of ill repute. You yourself shall destroy them; your idol, the Pantheon, will be razed to the ground,8 so that it may truthfully be said that 'iniquity has lied to itself.' [Ps. 26,12] Your enemies will plunge you into anguish, famine, terror, and the contempt for My law, says the Lord.

"On My third visit, you shall fall under the foreign yoke. From afar your enemies will see your palaces in flames, your home in ruins, soaked in the blood of your heroes who are no more.9

"But behold, a great warrior from the north appears,10 a banner in his right hand, his arm bearing this inscription: 'Irresistible is the hand of the Lord.'11 At that moment the Venerable Old Man of Rome went forward to meet him, wielding a flaming torch.12 The banner then grew larger and its blackness became white as snow;13 in its center stood out the name of the Almighty in golden letters.14

"The warrior (Don Carlos and the Pope) and his followers bowed profoundly to the Venerable Old Man and joined hands with him.15

16"Now the voice of Heaven is addressed to the Shepherd of Shepherds. (To Pius IX) You are in solemn conference with your co-workers (the Vatican Council),17 but the enemy of good never stands idle. He cunningly plots and sets all his wiles against you. He will sow discord among your helpers and will rear enemies among My sons. (The grave frustrations [suffered by Pius IX] during the Vatican Council.) The powers of the world shall vomit fire. They would love to smother My words in the throats of the guardians of My law, but they shall not succeed. (This has already been attempted and will still be attempted, especially in Prussia.)18 They shall do much harm, but only to themselves. Hurry! If knots cannot be untied, sever them. Do not halt in the face of difficulties, but go forth until the hydra of error has been beheaded (through the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility).19 At this blow earth and hell shall tremble, but he world will be saved20 and the faithful shall exult. Gather around you only two co-workers, yet wherever you go,21 carry on the task entrusted to you and bring it to completion (the Vatican Council).22 Days go by swiftly and your years are reaching their appointed number,23 but the great Queen shall always assist you, and, as in the past, She shall always be magnum et singulare in Ecclesia praesidium [the powerful, prodigious defense of the Church].24

"But you, O Italy, land of blessings, who has plunged you into desolation? Not your enemies, but your own friends. Do you not hear your children begging for the bread of faith, unable to find one to break it for them? What shall I do? I shall strike the shepherds and scatter the sheep so that those who sit upon the chair of Moses may seek better pastures and their flock may gently listen and be fed. (A seeming allusion to inadequate religious instruction.)25

"But My hand shall be heavy upon both flock and shepherds. Famine, plague, and war shall cause mothers to mourn the blood of their sons and husbands shed on foreign soil.26 (A seeming allusion to this year's famine. Pestilence and war shall follow.)

"What shall befall you, ungrateful, effeminate, proud Rome? You have reached a point when you seek and admire nought in your sovereign27 but luxury, forgetting that both your glory and his lies on Golgotha. Now he is old, frail, defenseless, and dispossessed. (Present condition of Pius IX.) Nevertheless, though captive, his words cause the whole world to tremble.28

"O Rome! Four times shall I come to you!29 The first time I shall smite your regions and its people. The second time I shall bring slaughter and destruction to your very gates. Should not that make you open your eyes? A third time shall I come, and I will demolish your defenses and defenders. (The present state of Rome.) At My Father's30 command, terror, dismay, and desolation will reign.

"My wise followers flee (many live away from Rome, many are obliged to disperse), but My law is still trod underfoot.31 Therefore, I shall come a fourth time.32 Woe to you if My law again shall go unheeded. There shall be defections among both learned and ignorant. (This has happened and is still happening.) Your blood and that of your children shall wipe out your transgressions. (A seeming allusion to some future disaster.)33

"War, plague, and famine are the scourges to smite human pride and malice. (This summarizes the above-mentioned punishments.) Where are your magnificent villas and palaces, you people of wealth? (We shall see!) They have become the litter of squares and streets!34

"And you priests, why are you not prostrate between the vestibule and the altar, weeping and praying that the scourge may cease?35 Why do you not take up the shield of faith and preach My Word from the rooftops, in the houses, streets, and squares, and even in inaccessible places? Do you not know that this is the terrible two-edged sword which smites My enemies and placates the wrath of God and man?

"These things shall inexorably come to pass, all in succession.36

"Things follow too slowly upon each other, but the great Queen of Heaven is at hand; the Lord's power is Hers. Like mist She shall scatter Her enemies.37 She shall vest the Venerable Old Man with all his former garments.38

"There shall yet come a violent hurricane.39 Iniquity is at an end, sin shall cease, and before two full moons shall have shone in the month of flowers,40 the rainbow of peace41 shall appear on the earth.

"The great Minister shall see the Bride of his King clothed in glory.42

"Throughout the world a sun so bright shall shine43 as was never seen since the flames of the Cenacle until today, nor shall it be seen again until the end of time."

The Second Prophecy

(May 24 - June 24, 1873)44

It was a dark night (error), and men could no longer find their way back to their own countries.45 Suddenly a most brilliant light (faith in God and in His power) shone in the sky, illuminating their way as at high noon.46 At that moment from the Vatican came forth, as in procession, a multitude of men and women, young children, monks, nuns, and priests, and at their head was the Pope.47 (It seems to allude to the suppression of monasteries and schools run by religious and to the Pope's exile.)

But a furious storm broke out, somewhat dimming that light, as if light and darkness were locked in battle.48 (Perhaps this means a battle between truth and error, or else a bloody war.) Meanwhile the long procession reached a small square littered with dead and wounded, many of whom cried for help.49

The ranks of the procession thinned considerably.50 After a two-hundred day march, all realized that they were no longer in Rome.51 In dismay they swarmed about the Pontiff to protect him and minister to him in his needs.52

At that moment two angels appeared, bearing a banner which they presented to the Supreme Pontiff, saying: "Take the banner of Her who battles and routs the most powerful armies on earth. Your enemies have vanished: with tears and sighs your children plead for your return."53

One side of the banner bore the inscription: Regina sine labe concepta [Queen conceived without sine],and the other side read: Auxilium Christianorum [Help of Christians].54

The Pontiff accepted the banner gladly, but he became distressed to see how few were his followers.55

But the two angels went on: "Go now, comfort your children. Write to your brothers scattered throughout the world that men must reform their lives.56 This cannot be achieved unless the bread of the Divine Word is broken among the peoples.57 Teach children their catechism58 and preach detachment from earthly things.59 The time has come," the two angles concluded, "when the poor will evangelize the world. Priests shall be sought among those who wield the hoe, the spade, and the hammer, as David prophesied: 'God lifted the poor man from the fields to place him on the throne of His people.'"60

On hearing this, the Pontiff moved on,61 and the ranks began to swell. Upon reaching the Holy City, the Pontiff wept at the sight of its desolate citizens, for many of them were no longer.62 He then entered St. Peter's and intoned the Te Deum,63 to which a chorus of angels responded, singing: Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis [Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will.] When the song was over, all darkness vanished and a blazing sun shone.64 The population had declined greatly in the cities and in the countryside; the land was mangled as if by a hurricane and hailstorm, and people sought each other, deeply moved, and saying: Est Deus in Israel [There is a God in Israel].65

From the start of the exile until the intoning of the Te Deum, the sun rose 200 times. All the events described covered a period of 400 days.66

NOTE

The person reporting these things is the same who unerringly predicted what happened to France a year before it took place. These predictions were widely known and were fulfilled day by day, as if a script were being followed.

According to this same person, France, Spain, Austria and a German power would be the instruments of Divine Providence in preventing the collapse of civil society and restoring peace to the Church which for so long and in so many way has been fought against. These event would start in the spring of 1874 and would be completed within a year and a few months, unless new iniquities should be perpetrated against God's will.67

Thus says the Lord to the emperor of Austria: "Be of good cheer and look after My faithful servants and yourself. My wrath is now spilling over all the nations because they want to make people forget My laws, glorifying those who defile them and oppressing My faithful adherents. Will you be the rod of My power? Will out carry out My inscrutable design and become a benefactor of the world? Rely on the Northern Powers, but not on Prussia. Enter into relations with Russia, but form no alliance. Join forces with Catholic France; after France, you shall have Spain. All together, become one in will and action.68

"Observe absolute secrecy with the enemies of My holy name. Prudence and vigor will make you and your allies invincible. Do not believe the lies of whoever tells you otherwise. Abhor the enemies of the Cross. Put your hope and trust in Me. I make armies victorious. I am the Savior of nations and sovereign. Amen. Amen."

Note: This letter was sent to the emperor of Austria in July 1873 through a trusted person who delivered it to him in person. He read it attentively and sent his hearty thanks to the sender, saying that he would avail himself of it.69

FOOTNOTES

1 Transcribed from The Biographical Memoirs of Saint John Bosco by Rev. Angelo Amadei, S. D. B., ed. Rev. Diego Borgatello, S. D. B., Volume X (1871-1874), Salesiana Publishers, New Rochelle, New York, 1977, pp. 49-59. Items in square [] brackets have been added by the Editor. Items in round ( ) brackets are the marginal notes added by St. John Bosco. The two introductory paragraphs were written by the Saint.
2 i.e. January 5, 1870 A.D.. A copy of this prophecy was sent to Rome on February 12, 1870, as testified to by the Civiltá Cattolica, Vol. VI, Series 8, 1872, pp. 299 and 303. Father Joachim Berto copied this prophecy at Don Bosco request a few weeks after Epiphany. His own comments on its meaning however do not date to this period (cf. fn. regarding "Pantheon."
3 According to Father Joachim Berto, the priest to whom a copy of these prophecies was entrusted, "from the south" refers to "From France, which declared war on Prussia." This is reference to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. France declared war on Prussia on July 15, 1970 after Marshall Juan Prim (1814-1870), the anti-clerical Prime Minister of Spain made a tentative offer of the vacant throne of his nation to the German prince, Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Leopold, from an obscure branch of the House of Hohenzollern, was the brother of Stephenie the wife of Peter V, King of Portugal (1855- 1861), as well as the husband of his brother Antonia (1845-1913). The prospect of Spain allied with Bismarck's Prussia led Napoleon III to initiative the conflict which would have disastrous consequences for France. Since the immediate occasion of the war derived from Spain's interregnum, Fr. Berto would have been more justified in saying "From Spain, where the war began." However many historians consider the war to have begun by the clever diplomatic maneuvers of Otto von Bismarck, which enticed Napoleon III into war. Leopold himself, knowing of Napoleon III's opposition to his candidature for the throne of Spain voluntarily withdrew himself before hostilities broke out. Hence it does not seem clear that this phrase refers at all to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, despite Father Berto's interpretation. Regarding the clarifications made by Fr. Berto (which will be noted in the course of the text), Father Giovanni Battista Lemoyne, S.D.B, who wrote vols. I-IX of the Biographical Memoirs, says of them "evidently written or previously dictated and then revised by Don Bosco. The marginal notes and clarification shed light on and pinpointed the predicted events which, to a large extent, as we shall see, took place shortly afterward, though a few, at the time of writings [1917], have still to occur. Seemingly, according the Don Bosco, these were to take place about the year 1874, 'unless,' as he wrote in his own hand, 'new iniquities further provoke God.' We must add that, when questioned later about the fulfillment of these events, Don Bosco said frankly that they might not take place, for in His mercy the Lord sometimes points out to men the path they should follow in one circumstance or another in order to get out of some difficulty, and nothing more. If the direction given are not followed, it is obvious that what has been foretold [and is contingent upon them] will not occur either." (Vol. IX, p. 377)
4 On this phrase, Fr. Berto writes "From the north of Spain where the present war began. Furthermore, Don Carlos resided in Vienna, which is north of Italy." The Don Carlos referred to here was the great nephew of Don Carlos Maria Isidoro of Borbón (1848-1909), Duke of Madrid, the second son of King Charles IV, who contested the succession of his niece Isabella II in 1833. Don Carlos like his great uncle were devout Roman Catholics who much opposed the liberalism of their day. The Duke of Madrid, who took up the claim to the throne after the deposition of Isabella in 1868, undertook two failed insurrections in 1869 and 1872. Later he fought a bloody campaign (1873-1876) which was defeated by the forces of King Alfonso XII, Isabella's son. Since the Franco-Prussian War was concluded by an armistice signed at Frankfurt on May 10, 1871 (there had been a previous armistice at Paris on January 26, 1871), and not from Spain where hostilities continued until 1876, peace did come from the north. Once again the comments provided by Fr. Berto are inaccurate.
5 It is sobering to note that God the Creator reveals Himself to disbelievers through punishments in history. This accords with what St. Alphonsus says of the Divine Providence, which metes out even temporal punishments in accord with the sins of the age.
6 Following the temporal sequence, this first visitation would be the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1, in which eastern France was overrun by the Prussian army and Paris besieged.
7 This second visitation refers to the Communist Revolt in the spring of 1871, in which the "communards" burnt much of the city and executed the Archbishop of Paris.
8 Here Father Berto writes in the Clarifications subjoined to this prophecy: "Contemporary newspapers reported that it was damaged by several bombs. But what concerns France has not yet fully take place." This statement can only be understood has having been written at least after January 5, 1871, when the Prussian forces under General Moltke began the bombardment of Paris. However the Pantheon most likely suffered damage during the Communist revolt which broke out in the city on March 17-18 of that year and whose resistance to the French Government resulted in a second bombardment of the city on April 2. A bloody week of city fighting (May 21-28) culminated in the slaughter of 20,000 communists. During their rebellion may public buildings were burned, there were two attempts to blow up the Cathedral of Chartres and the Pantheon, and many hostages including the Archbishop of Paris were executed (an event revealed earlier to St. Margaret Mary Alaqoque, by Our Lady.)
9 The only time Paris was taken by a hostile power was on June 14, 1940, when the armies of Hitler's Third Reich took the city without a shot being fired (it had been declared an open city just the day before.) On the other hand, this third visit may refer to the German occupation during the armistice period of the Franco-Prussian war. During the revolt of the communists in the spring of 1871, in which much of the city was burnt and thousands slaughtered, the German troops of occupation stood by as spectators to the struggle. The German occupation lasted until Sept. 16, 1873, when France had repaid its war indemnity.
10 Here Fr. Berto writes, "Don Carlos from northern Spain." And Fr. Amadeus, the author of the Biographical Memoirs, added at this point, "Later on, Father Berto (so it seems) added a question mark and these words: "No. Emperor William [I] of Prussia." This latter comment contradicts Don Bosco's marginal note which follows (Don Carlos and the Pope). Indeed it is inconsistent with Emperor William's liberal Protestantism do bear such an arm-band, or such a banner. Don Carlos, on the other hand, began his final campaign for the throne of Spain in 1873. This would correspond to the sequence of events in the prophecy, which just referred to the German occupation that ended in the previous year.
11 Although all Fr. Berto's comments in the Clarifications follow the sequence of the text, the final comment returns to this passage: "Newspapers say that Don Carlos apparently began his exploits without weapons, money or victuals, and only with fourteen men. Yet today, April 1, 1874, he has an army over 100,000 strong. There is no report as yet that he has lost a single battle." Don Carlos campaign for the throne of Spain ended in defeat in February of 1876; at which time he fled to France.
12 Here Fr. Berto writes, "Faith in God which guides and upholds the great warrior in his undertakings." The metaphor the light of faith is traditional in Catholicism. In 2 Peter 1:19 the prophetic word of God revelation is called "a light shining in a dark place." Hence perhaps the reason for Fr. Berto's usage. As a devout Catholic who was attempting to restore a Catholic government to Spain, Don Carlos' encounter with the Pope would be true symbolically, even if it did not actually take place.
13 Here Fr. Berto writes, "The massacre ceased. Blackness—a symbol of death or persecution, such as the Kulturkampf." The Kulturkampf (= 'The Conflict of Cultures') was a series of anti-Catholic measures undertaken by Otto von Bismarck to curb the rise of Catholic opposition to the liberal policies of the Prussian government in Germany. Begun in July of 1871, its measures gradually fell into abeyance after the Catholic Center party significantly increased its representation in the parliamentary elections of 1878. The Kulturkampf is another reason by Emperor William of Prussia could not possibly be the 'great warrior' of this prophecy. This statement, presumably by Fr. Berto, must therefore have been written at or after July of 1871.
14 Here Fr. Berto writes, "According to press reports, Don Carlos' banner bears on one side a picture of the Heart of Jesus and on the reverse that of the Immaculate Conception."
15 Perhaps a reference to Don Carlos' intention not to recognize the seizure of the Papal States. Isabella II, the former ruler of Spain, had acceded to the demands of the libertarians and recognized the Italian Republic, and its implicit seizure of the Papal States—an action which her court chaplain, St. Anthony Marie Claret y Claret, had warned would bring down God's wrath upon her regime and nation. Within a year she had to flee for her life to France during a revolution engineered by the same liberal factions.
16 This section, which ends with "magnum et singulare in Ecclesia praesidium" is the excerpt—not originally included in the copies—which Don Bosco himself read to Pope Pius IX during a private audience on February 20, 1870.
17 That is, the First Vatican Council, which was held from December 8, 1869-Sept 1, 1870.
18 Don Bosco's marginal note refers undoubtedly to the Kulturkampf of Bismarck.
19 By terming the spirit which opposed the Dogma of Papal Infallibility "the hydra of error" a clear indication of the wickedness of schism, dissent and Protestantism is indicated.
20 That is, from the loss of true doctrine.
21 Here Father Berto comments, " Seemingly an allusion to the Pope's exile. See the second Prophecy." The Second Prophecy refers to the 200 day March, which Fr. Berto interprets as an actual exile, in accord with the history of the events of 1848 when Ven. Pope Pius IX was forced to flee to the nearby city-port of Gaeta, in the Kingdom of Naples. That first exile came immediately after the Pontiff had written to all the Bishops of the Church to solicit their comments regarding the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. During his exile the Pope had visited the ancient shrine of La Madonna di Civiltá, which is nearby Gaeta. Its Image was itself rescued from the storms of Iconoclasm in Constantinople in the 8th Century, by monks fleeing to Sicily. Hence the shrine was a poetic refuge for the Pope who would soon enshrine the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception among the teachings of the Church. On this same phrase "wherever you go", Fr. Amadeus, the author of volume X of the Biographical Memoirs of St. John Bosco, writes,"The first prophecy has these words for the Pope: "Wherever you go . . ." It was, indeed taken for granted that the Pope would leave Rome. He did not, however, and this was due precisely to this message from Don Bosco: "Let the sentry, the angel of Israel, remain at his post and guard God's stronghold and His holy ark." The solemn tone of these words clearly reveals their source.
Nor did the Pope ever forget them! While even Catholics continued to believe that his departure from Rome was imminent, Don Bosco, to the astonishment of all, hastened to defend the rights of the Church and of the Supreme Pontiff so effectively that the latter was able to appoint bishops for more than a hundred vacant Italian diocese without governmental interference....
And so the sentry of Israel remained at his post, guarding God's rock. On his part, until the end of his days, Don Bosco kept hoping and working zealously for a reconciliation of Italy and the Church. "We are both of the same age," he wrote to a fellow priest. "When we were born Europe was settling down to peace after long years of war. May we dare hope to see peace in the world and the Church's triumph before the end of our lives? We could then sing our Nunc dimittis. However, may God's will be done in all things. The triumph of the Church is certain; if we do not see it here below, we shall witness it, I hope from heaven."
He did see it from heaven [in 1929] when the Lateran Treaty was signed. [As Pius XI declared] it gave "God back to Italy, and Italy back to God." The signing took place just a month before Pius XI's proclamation of the acceptance of the miracles which had been submitted for Don Bosco's beatification.
In pointing out the "charming, admirable and striking coincidence," the Pope characterized Don Bosco as a "great, faithful and truly clear-sighted servant of the Church and of the Holy See . . ." Such indeed he always was! Pius XI then went on to state that he had learned "from Don Bosco himself" how much "a solution of this deplorable dissension was truly uppermost in his thoughts and desires . . . a solution that would, above all, guarantee the honor of God and of the Church, and the welfare of souls." (cf. L'Osservatore Romano, March 20-21, 1929.)
22 A seeming reference that the work begun by the First Vatican Council should have been completed (at a future council?). This has still to come about, since Vatican II took an entirely different approach from the infallible, irreformable, declaratory nature of its precursor.
23 Ven. Pope Pius IX died in February 7, 1878.
24 The Latin phrase is more exactly translated as, "Great and Singular Defense in the Church."
25 The armies of the Italian Republic took Rome on Sept. 20, 1870, after the French garrison, which had been protecting the city, was recalled to France to defend her. In the following year Pope Pius IX refused the settlement offered by Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Italy, and in retaliation the government seized ecclesiastical property throughout the peninsula forcing many religious to flee overseas.
26 Here Father Berto comments, "This has still to come." And Father Amadeus adds, "Here too there is a penciled addition: 'Dogali.' At Dogali, a small locality about thirteen miles from Massaua, Eritrea, five hundred Italian soldiers were ambushed and massacred in 1887." This is a reference to the victory of John IV, Emperor of Abyssinia over the Italian colonial forces on January 26, 1887. In 1896 another Italian force under General Oreste Baratieri was defeated by Emperor Menelek's forces at the battle of Aduwa: 6,500 Italians were killed in action. Prior to these actions, no armed forced of the new Republic of Italy had fought on foreign soil. This penciled in comment, thus, must have been written after January 26, 1887.
27 That is, the Roman Pontiff, who was the temporal ruler of the city, at the time of this prophecies composition in January of 1870.
28 A reference to the captivity which Pope Pius IX imposed upon himself after the fall of Rome in Sept. 1870. At the very moment that the Pope lost the Papal States, God compensated him with the dogmatic definition of Papal Infallibility, to which the end of the sentence refers symbolically.
29 To be consistent with the text, these visitations must occur at least after 1870, and more precisely after the spring of 1871, when the Italian government began to persecute the Church in Italy. Thus the comment by Don Bosco "This refers to the present state of Rome" is seemingly a note added in 1874, when the Saint had Father Berto make a copy of the original manuscript. On Sept. 20, 1870, 60,000 troops of the Republic under the command of General Raffaele Cadorna invested Rome and breached the city walls. The history of the following period 1871-1874 does not correspond with the text, since in June, 1871, Rome became the capital of the Republic and enjoyed a period of peace, until it was captured by the Allies in World War II on Sept. 4, 1944, without a shot being fired. However during late July of 1943 the environs of the city were bombarded by 500 allied bombers. These four visitations thus remain obscure.
30 This statement clarifies the speaker of the prophecy as Jesus Christ.
31 Perhaps a reference to the great exodus of Catholic clergy and religious to North and South America during this period.
32 Here Fr. Berto writes, "This visit to Rome has still to take place." Perhaps a reference to the sufferings endured by the city during the Second World War.
33 This comment by Don Bosco indicates that he himself did not understand precisely the significance of the prophecy. But according to St. John of the Cross, this is normally the case in such circumstances, (cf. Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, nn. 9-10.) Since the citizens of Rome in both 1870 and 1944 did not suffer the loss of their lives from a direct military attack on the city, this prophecy seems unfulfilled. Not so, however, if it refers in a general manner to the men from Rome who served in the wars which followed 1870 (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, World War I and II).
34 Since the environs of Rome were heavily damaged during 1943-44, this may be a reference to these events. Rome did experience a period of the greatest penury in the years 1944-6.
35 A sober reminder that the fulfillment of priestly duties by the bulk of the clergy is the one means of remedying God's wrath towards humanity.
36 Ostensibly a definitive indication that this prophecy is given in chronological sequence, and is to be thus interpreted.
37 That is, with the passing of time which makes things forgotten, as objects gradually obscured from view.
38 Perhaps a reference to the signing of the Lateran Treaty of 1929, which settled the Roman Question (the dispute between Italy and the Vatican concerning the Papal States and the rights of the Church in Italy) and ended the imprisonment of the Pope in the Vatican. This interpretation would be most harmonious with the chronological sequence of this prophecy. But if so "former garments" is used in a very symbolic manner.
39 Here Fr. Berto writes, "See the next prophecy where the hurricane is fully described." This event must, therefore, follow the Lateran Treaty of 1929, which is the resolution of the political events of 1870-74.
40 Here Fr. Berto writes, "This year, 1874, the month of May has two full moons, one on the 1st and the other on the 31st." Fr. Berto interprets "month of flowers" as a reference to May. However the when the wild flowers bloom in Turin (the home of Don Bosco) is March. Astronomical tables confirm Fr. Berto's assertion regarding two full moon in May, 1874. However no extraordinary event secular or supernatural occurred in that month. Indeed following the sequence of the text, this event should follow the "hurricane" of "iniquity" and "sin" which itself would follow the Lateran Treaty of 1929. In March of 1988 and 1999 there are two full moons. In the former there was no noticeable cessation to sin in the world. The latter has yet to come.
41 Here Fr. Berto writes, "A hope which seemingly is rising in Spain today, March 1, 1874." A reference to the advances of the Carlist, Don Carlos, Duke of Madrid (cf. notes above). This interpretation militates against the statement of Don Bosco's prophecy just read, "These things shall inexorably come to pass, all in succession." since if Fr. Berto's assertion were correct, this event would have occurred after others which he himself admits have not yet happened. The following text however refers to a spiritual event (a sun seen by the whole world, that is comparable to the light of the Cenacle) of the greatest significance to the Church. The Miracle at Fatima is a candidate, since it is a light that has shown throughout the world. But 1917 would be outside the sequence, if the former interpretation of the Lateran Treaty is correct. However if the phrase "former garments" refers to an end of hostilities between the government of Victor Emmanuel II which prevailed in the years 1871-4, then the miracle at Fatima would seem appropriate, seeing as it was an admirable fulfillment of St. John's prophecy, "A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun." (Rev. 12:1)
42 This phrase strikingly bears the imagery of Revelation 12:1 which was fulfilled in a particular manner by the miracle of the sun at Fatima on October 13, 1917. It is said that Pope Pius XII himself was given a vision of this event; that would be the literal fulfillment of this prophecy.
43 Here Fr. Berto writes, "Triumph and growth of Christianity."
44 The title appear in the original transcription. Father Berto first came to know of this prophecy on July 14, 1873. Shortly thereafter Don Bosco asked him to copy it and send it along with another document to Franz Joseph I of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia (cf. Biographical Memoirs, Vol. X, p. 49).
45 An implicit description that the men in question have convened together in a foreign land during a period characterized by the prevalence of error.
46 The marginal notes (in italics) added by Don Bosco evince his opinion that this prophecy referred to a Pope's exile. No exile took place, which perhaps lead Don Bosco to admit in 1871 that the prophecy perhaps would never be fulfilled (Biographical Memoirs, Vol X p. 377). Accordingly the only other interpretation must take the imagery as symbolic of a spiritual exile. If the imagery is consistent with the previous prophecy, then this great light must have a Marian character. Therefore the circumstances of this prophecy appear to coincide with those of the Second Vatican Council at which Bishops, in their capacity as delegates to a non-infallible disciplinary synod, met together. At the close of the Council (on November 21, 1965 the last documents where published) Pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary "Mother of the Church." This perhaps is the light referred to in the text above.
47 The phrase "as in procession" is exact, since unlike a religious procession, which proceeds from one sacred place to another, and which is headed by a crucifer, thurifer and candlebearers, this column of persons is headed by the Pope (as at it will be seen, out of the City into the countryside). The Latin word profanus, from which the English word "profane" is derived, literally refers to the non-consecrated area outside the domain of a sacred space. It is interesting to note that the other participants in the group are in reverse order (adults: children; male religious: female religious). The clergy alone are where they should be, indicating that they alone understand it as a religious procession.
48 A clear reference to the revival of Modernism which characterized the post-Conciliar period and distinguished itself by attacking Marian devotions.
49 The "end" of the procession (actually the mid-point) is a public square (a profane place). Those found there perhaps symbolize the spiritual catastrophe which overtook the Catholic world during the "implementation" period. Certainly the last phrase poignantly describes the efforts of the laity who remained faithful.
50 Another apt description of the reaction of the laity to Conciliar reforms in the period following the Council, especially as the direction of the reforms became clearer.
51 Taking the march in a spiritual and symbolic sense, "Rome" must refer to "Roman Catholicism". This statement therefore explicitly affirms that the post-Conciliar reforms have lead to something other that Catholic truth and life.
52 Another poignant description of the reaction of the laity during the post-Conciliar period. The phrase "to protect him" may refer to the assassination attempt on the Pope on May 13, 1981, or a defense of the Magisterium by personal initiatives.
53 It seems therefore that the "children" whether still in Rome or with the Pope are one in calling for his return to the City. The advent of the two angels is a solemn indication of the intervention of Heaven to change the course of "renewal" and may in fact refer to some personal experience of the Roman Pontiff.
54 These two titles of Our Lady refers unmistakably to the Immaculate Conception and Mary, who as Mediatrix and Mother of the Church, watches over Catholics to protect them. The acceptance of the banners perhaps alludes to the consecrations of the world (not Russia) to the Immaculate Heart on May 13, 1982 and March 25, 1984. The imagery of accepting a banner signifies the entrance into the service of a monarch. In this case that of Mary. And if taken in conjunction with that of the former prophecy's allusion to a vision of Our Lady in glory, then this text would build on the prophecies related to Fatima.
55 A reference, no doubt, to the few who share the Pontiff's devotion to the Mother of God.
56 Seemingly an Encyclical on Penance. Pope John Paul II issued such an Encyclical (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia) on December 2, 1984.
57 "Divine Word" is a phrase signifying the Deposit of the Faith, Sacred Revelation. The image of it being broken is a standard idiom for preaching.
58 The Universal Catechism was promulgated by Pope John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (a coincidence?), December 8, 1992.
59 Pope John Paul II has repeatedly encouraged the youth to consider a religious vocation.
60 An allusion to the vocation crisis in the First World.
61 The direction of the "procession" reverses; and thus the faithful begin to rejoin the Pope.
62 A clear indication of the tremendous damage done the Church Universal. The lack of citizens indicative of eternal damnation, in as much as the City is symbolic of "The True Faith."
63 The return to St. Peter's also must be symbolic of a restoration of (return to) Romanism, which is the Church founded by St. Peter. The intoning of the Te Deum crowns the imagery, since this is customary in the Traditional Roman Rite. The Angels response indicates that the restoration, far from being unwelcome, is in fact in accord with the Divine pleasure.
64 This blazing sun may be the same as that of the previous prophecy. If so then its Marian character is also necessary. Perhaps it refers to a coming dogmatic definition of the Corredemption. This would be consistent, since over 400 of the Bishops who attended Vatican II requested this; and as can be seen from the pontificate of John Paul II, he has striven closely to complete the good intentions of Pope John XXIII and Paul VI.
65 The spiritual climax and triumph is welcomed by the laity, who have weathered the storm.
66 According to Fr. Frank Klauder, S.D.B., in his article "The 200 Day March: Don Bosco and the Millennium," Soul Magazine, Jan./Feb. 1998, p. 6., the chronology of this prophecy is also symbolic. One day equates to one month. Four-hundred days represents 33 years 4 months, which is the time from November, 1965 (the close of Vatican II) to March 1999, another month in which there will be, in accord with the first prophecy, two full moons. The first two-hundred day period marks the 16 years 8 months ending August 1982, which approximates the time during the Pontificate of John Paul II when he began publicly to speak of Our Lady as Corredemptrix (cf. Dr. Mark Miravalle's book, The Final Dogma) and when he decided to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The "rainbow of peace" of the first prophecy would then refer to the era of peace promised by Our Lady at Fatima, when the world would follow the way of Her Immaculate Heart. Although the sun rises 200 times, there are 400 days, indicating that the time period here is not measured literally but symbolically.
67 These events began in the spring of 1874, inasmuch as the conflict between the modern state and the Church which began with the seizure of the Papal States (as a symbolic retaliation for the definition of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility) will be concluded by the "triumph of the Church" which Don Bosco himself desired so much. This "triumph," in order to counter-poise the events of the prophecies, would necessarily include the recognition of the Papacy's Authority in world affairs and the establishment of a new arrangement between Church and State, to succeed that destroyed by the revolutions of the 19th century. These prophecies undoubtedly are associated with Don Bosco's more famous prophecy of the Two Columns, which concludes with a Pope chaining the Bark of Peter to Our Lady Help of Christians and the Most Blessed Sacrament (Biographical Memoirs, Vol. VII, pp. 107-109.
68 At this point Fr. Berto added a note ex post facto, "This prophecy fitted the political situation in Europe that year. Later, things changed, both in regard to France and to Prussia." This prophecy is a Divine invitation for the Catholic nations to unite to withstand the Masonic-Protestant alliances of nations in Europe. However, headless of this request, Austria-Hungary eschewed political alliances with France and Spain for the next 25 years, thus laying the groundwork politically for the system of agreements that precipitated the First World War. Ironically, and treacherously at that, only Catholic Austria-Hungary was partitioned into oblivion by the treaty of Versailles; even though she alone had been the most forceful voice for peace throughout the entire war.
69 Here Fr. Amadeus writes, "Here he [Don Bosco] added the name of the trusted person—Countess Lutzow, and admirer of his. On June 14 of that year she had sent him a 2,000 lire donation in thanks for her husband's recovery through the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians."

Vision Of hell

On Sunday night, May 3 [1868], the feast of Saint Joseph's patronage, Don Bosco resumed the narration of his dreams:

I have another dream to tell you, a sort of aftermath of those I told you last Thursday and Friday which totally exhausted me. Call them dreams or whatever you like. Always, as you know, on the night of April 17 a frightful toad seemed bent on devouring me. When it finally vanished, a voice said to me: "Why don't you tell them?" I turned in that direction and saw a distinguished person standing by my bed. Feeling guilty about my silence, I asked: "What should I tell my boys?"

"What you have seen and heard in your last dreams and what you have wanted to know and shall have revealed to you tomorrow night!" He then vanished.

I spent the whole next day worrying about the miserable night in store for me, and when evening came, loath to go to bed, I sat at my desk browsing through books until midnight. The mere thought of having more nightmares thoroughly scare me. However, with great effort, I finally went to bed.

  • "Get up and follow me!" he said.
  • "For Heaven's sake," I protested, "leave me alone. I am exhausted! I've been tormented by a toothache for several day now and need rest. Besides, nightmares have completely worn me out." I said this because this man's apparition always means trouble, fatigue, and terror for me.
  • "Get up," he repeated. "You have no time to lose."
  • I complied and followed him. "Where are you taking me?" I asked.
  • "Never mind. You'll see." He led me to a vast, boundless plain, veritably a lifeless desert, with not a soul in sight or a tree or brook. Yellowed, dried-up vegetation added to the desolation I had no idea where I was or what was I to do. For a moment I even lost sight of my guide and feared that I was lost, utterly alone. Father Rua, Father Francesia, nowhere to be seen. When I finally saw my friend coming toward me, I sighed in relief.
  • "Where am I?" I asked.
  • "Come with me and you will find out!"
  • "All right. I'll go with you."
  • He led the way and I followed in silence, but after a long, dismal trudge, I began worrying whether I would ever be able to cross that vast expanse, what with my toothache and swollen legs. Suddenly I saw a road ahead. "Where to now?" I asked my guide.
  • "This way," he replied.
  • We took the road. It was beautiful, wide, and neatly paved. "The way of sinners is made plain with stones, and in their end is hell, and darkness, and pains. " (Ecclesiasticus 21: 11, stones: broad and easy.) Both sides were lined with magnificent verdant hedges dotted with gorgeous flowers. Roses, especially, peeped everywhere through the leaves. At first glance, the road was level and comfortable, and so I ventured upon it without the least suspicion, but soon I noticed that it insensibly kept sloping downward. Though it did not look steep at all, I found myself moving so swiftly that I felt I was effortlessly gliding through the air. Really, I was gliding and hardly using my feet. Then the thought struck me that the return trip would be very long and arduous.
  • "How shall we get back to the Oratory?" I asked worriedly.
  • "Do not worry," he answered. "The Almighty wants you to go. He who leads you on will also know how to lead you back."
  • The road is sloping downward. As we were continuing on our way, flanked by banks of roses and other flowers, I became aware that the Oratory boys and very many others whom I did not know were following me. Somehow I found myself in their midst. As I was looking at them, I noticed now one, now another fall to the ground and instantly be dragged by an unseen force toward a frightful drop, distantly visible, which sloped into a furnace. "What makes these boys fall?" I asked my companion. "The proud have hidden a net for me. And they have stretched out cords for a snare: they have laid for me a stumbling-block by the wayside." (Psalms 139: 6)
  • "Take a closer look," he replied.
  • I did. Traps were everywhere, some close to the ground, others at eye level, but all well concealed. Unaware of their danger, many boys got caught, and they tripped, they would sprawl to the ground, legs in the air. Then, when they managed to get back on their feet, they would run headlong down the road toward the abyss. Some got trapped by the head, others by the neck, hand, arms, legs, or sides, and were pulled down instantly. The ground traps, fine as spiders' webs and hardly visible, seemed very flimsy and harmless; yet, to my surprise, every boy they snared fell to the ground.
  • Noticing my astonishment, the guide remarked, "Do you know what this is?"
  • "Just some filmy fiber," I answered.
  • "A mere nothing," he said, "just plain human respect.",
  • Seeing that many boys were being caught in those straps. I asked, "Why do so many get caught? Who pulls them down?"
  • "Go nearer and you will see!" he told me.
  • I followed his advice but saw nothing peculiar.
  • "Look closer," he insisted.
  • I picked up one of the traps and tugged. I immediately felt some resistance. I pulled harder, only to feel that, instead of drawing the thread closer, I was being pulled down myself. I did not resist and soon found myself at the mouth of a frightful cave. I halted, unwilling to venture into that deep cavern, and again started pulling the thread toward me. It gave a little, but only through great effort on my part. I kept tugging, and after a long while a huge, hideous monster emerged, clutching a rope to which all those traps were tied together. He was the one who instantly dragged down anyone who got caught in them. It won't do to match my strength with his, I said to myself. I'll certainly lose. I'd better fight him with the Sign of the Cross and with short invocations.
  • Then I went back to my guide. "Now you know who he is," he said to me.
  • "I surely do! It is the devil himself!"
  • Carefully examining many of the traps, I saw that each bore an inscription: Pride, Disobedience, Envy, Sixth Commandment, Theft, Gluttony, Sloth, Anger and so on. Stepping back a bit to see which ones trapped the greater number of boys, I discovered that the most dangerous were those of impurity, disobedience, and pride. In fact, these three were linked to together. Many other traps also did great harm, but not as much as the first two. Still watching, I noticed many boys running faster than others. "Why such haste?" I asked.
  • "Because they are dragged by the snare of human respect."
  • Looking even more closely, I spotted knives among the traps. A providential hand had put them there for cutting oneself free. The bigger ones, symbolizing meditation, were for use against the trap of pride; others, not quite as big, symbolized spiritual reading well made. There were also two swords representing devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, especially through frequent Holy Communion, and to the Blessed Virgin. There was also a hammer symbolizing confession, and other knives signifying devotion to Saint Joseph, to Saint Aloysius, and to other Saints. By these means quite a few boys were able to free themselves or evade capture.
  • Indeed I saw some lads walking safely through all those traps, either by good timing before the trap sprung on them or by making it slip off them if they got caught.
  • When my guide was satisfied that I had observed everything, he made me continue along that rose-hedged road, but the farther we went the scarcer the roses became. Long thorns began to show up, and soon the roses were no more. The hedges became sun-scorched, leafless, and thorn-studded. Withered branches torn from the bushes lay criss-crossed along the roadbed, littering it with thorns and making it impassable. We had come now to a gulch whose steep sides hid what lay beyond. The road, still sloping downward, was becoming ever more horrid, rutted, guttered, and bristling with rocks and boulders. I lost track of all my boys, most of whom had left this treacherous road for other paths.
  • I kept going, but the farther I advanced, the more arduous and steep became the descent, so that I tumbled and fell several times, lying prostrate until I could catch my breath. Now and then my guide supported me or helped me to rise. At every step my joints seemed to give way, and I thought my shinbones would snap. Panting, I said to my guide, "My good fellow, my legs won't carry me another step. I just can't go any farther."
  • He did not answer but continued walking. Taking heart, I followed until, seeing me soaked in perspiration and thoroughly exhausted, he led me to a little clearing alongside the road. I sat down, took a deep breath, and felt a little better. From my resting place, the road I had already traveled looked very steep, jagged, and strewn with loose stones, but what lay ahead seemed so much worse that I closed my eyes in horror.
  • "Let's go back," I pleaded. "If we go any farther, how shall we ever get back to the Oratory? I will never make it up this slope."
  • "Now that we have come so far, do you want me to leave you here?" my guide sternly asked.
  • At this threat, I wailed, "How can I survive without your help?"
  • "Then follow me."
  • We continued our descent, the road now becoming so frightfully steep that it was almost impossible to stand erect. And then, at the bottom of this precipice, at the entrance of a dark valley, an enormous building loomed into sight, its towering portal, tightly locked, facing our road. When I finally got to the bottom, I became smothered by a suffocating heat, while a greasy, green-tinted smoke lit by flashes of scarlet flames rose from behind those enormous walls which loomed higher than mountains.
  • "Where are we? What is this?" I asked my guide.
  • "Read the inscription on that portal and you will know."
  • I looked up and read these words: "The place of no reprieve." I realized that we were at the gates of Hell. The guide led me all around this horrible place. At regular distance bronze portals like the first overlooked precipitous descents; on each was an inscription, such as: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25: 41) "Every tree that yielded not good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the the fire." (Matthew 7: 19)
  • I tried to copy them into my notebook, but my guide restrained me: "There is no need. You have them all in Holy Scripture. You even have some of them inscribed in your porticoes."
  • At such a sight I wanted to turn back and return to the Oratory. As a matter of fact, I did start back, but my guide ignored my attempt. After trudging through a steep, never-ending ravine, we again came to the foot of the precipice facing the first portal. Suddenly the guide turned to me. Upset and startled, he motioned to me to step aside. "Look!" he said.
  • I looked up in terror and saw in the distance someone racing down the path at an uncontrollable speed. I kept my eyes on him, trying to identify him, and as he got closer, I recognized him as one of my boys. His disheveled hair was partly standing upright on his head and partly tossed back by the wind. His arms were outstretched as though he were thrashing the water in an attempt to stay afloat. He wanted to stop, but could not. Tripping on the protruding stones, he kept falling even faster. "Let's help him, let's stop him," I shouted, holding out my hands in a vain effort to restrain him.
  • "Leave him alone," the guide replied.
  • "Why?"
  • "Don't you know how terrible God's vengeance is? Do you think you can restrain one who is fleeing from His just wrath?"
  • Meanwhile the youth had turned his fiery gaze backward in an attempt to see if God's wrath were still pursuing him. The next moment he fell tumbling to the bottom of the ravine and crashed against the bronze portal as though he could find no better refuge in his flight.
  • "Why was he looking backward in terror?" I asked.
  • "Because God's wrath will pierce Hell's gates to reach and torment him even in the midst of fire!"
  • As the boy crashed into the portal, it sprang open with a roar, and instantly a thousand inner portals opened with a deafening clamor as if struck by a body that had been propelled by an invisible, most violent, irresistible gale. As these bronze doors -- one behind the other, though at a considerable distance from each other -- remained momentarily open, I saw far into the distance something like furnace jaws sprouting fiery balls the moment the youth hurtled into it. As swiftly as they had opened, the portals then clanged shut again. For a third time I tried to jot down the name of that unfortunate lad, but the guide again restrained me. "Wait," he ordered. "Watch!"
  • Three other boys of ours, screaming in terror and with arms outstretched, were rolling down one behind the other like massive rocks, I recognized them as they too crashed against the portal. In that split second, it sprang open and so did the other thousand. The three lads were sucked into that endless corridor amid a long-drawn, fading, infernal echo, and then the portals clanged shut again. At intervals, many other lads came tumbling down after them. I saw one unlucky boy being pushed down the slope by an evil companion. Others fell singly or with others, arm in arm or side by side. Each of them bore the name of his sin on his forehead. I kept calling to them as they hurtled down, but they did not hear me. Again the portals would open thunderously and slam shut with a rumble. Then, dead silence!
  • "Bad companions, bad books, and bad habits," my guide exclaimed, "are mainly responsible for so many eternally lost."
  • The traps I had seen earlier were indeed dragging the boys to ruin. Seeing so many going to perdition, I cried out disconsolately, "If so many of our boys end up this way, we are working in vain. How can we prevent such tragedies?"
  • "This is their present state," my guide replied, "and that is where they would go if they were to die now."
  • "Then let me jot down their names so that I may warn them and put them back on the path to Heaven."
  • "Do you really believe that some of them would reform if you were to warn them? Then and there your warning might impress them, but soon they will forget it, saying, 'It was just a dream,' and they will do worse than before. Others, realizing they have been unmasked, receive the sacraments, but this will be neither spontaneous nor meritorious; others will go to confession because of a momentary fear of Hell but will still be attached to sin."
  • "Then is there no way to save these unfortunate lads? Please, tell me what I can do for them."
  • "They have superiors; let them obey them. They have rules; let them observe them. They have the sacraments; let them receive them."
  • Just then a new group of boys came hurtling down and the portals momentarily opened. "Let's go in," the guide said to me.
  • I pulled back in horror. I could not wait to rush back to the Oratory to warn the boys lest others might be lost as well.
  • "Come," my guide insisted. "You'll learn much. But first tell me: Do you wish to go alone or with me?" He asked this to make me realize that I was not brave enough and therefore needed his friendly assistance.
  • "Alone inside that horrible place?" I replied. "How will I ever be able to find my way out without your help?" Then a thought came to my mind and aroused my courage. Before one is condemned to Hell, I said to myself, he must be judged. And I haven't been judged yet!
  • "Let's go," I exclaimed resolutely. We entered that narrow, horrible corridor and whizzed through it with lightning speed. Threatening inscriptions shone eerily over all the inner gateways. The last one opened into a vast, grim courtyard with a large, unbelievably forbidding entrance at the far end. Above it stood this inscription: "These shall go into everlasting punishment." (Matthew 25: 46) The walls all about were similarly inscribed. I asked my guide if I could read them, and he consented. These were the inscriptions:
  • "He will give fire, and worms into their flesh, and they may burn and may feel forever." (Judith 16: 21)
  • "The pool of fire where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Apocalypse 20: 9-10)
  • "And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up forever and ever." (Apocalypse 14: 11)
  • "A land of misery and darkness, where the shadow of death, and no order, but everlasting horror dwelleth." (Job 10: 22)
  • "There is no peace to the wicked." (Isaias 47: 22)
  • "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12)
  • While I moved from one inscription to another, my guide, who had stood in the center of the courtyard, came up to me.
  • "From here on," he said, "no one may have a helpful companion, a comforting friend, a loving heart, a compassionate glance, or a benevolent word. All this is gone forever. Do you just want to see or would you rather experience these things yourself?"
  • "I only want to see!" I answered.
  • "Then come with me," my friend added, and, taking me in tow, he stepped through that gate into a corridor at whose far end stood an observation platform, closed by a huge, single crystal pane reaching from the pavement to the ceiling. As soon as I crossed its threshold, I felt an indescribable terror and dared not take another step. Ahead of me I could see something like an immense cave which gradually disappeared into recesses sunk far into the bowels of the mountains. They were all ablaze, but theirs was not an earthly fire with leaping tongues of flames. The entire cave --walls, ceiling, floor, iron, stones, wood, and coal -- everything was a glowing white at temperatures of thousands of degrees. Yet the fire did not incinerate, did not consume. I simply can't find words to describe the cavern's horror. "The nourishment thereof is fire and much wood: the breath of the Lord as a torrent of brimstone kindling it." (Isaias 30: 33)
  • I was staring in bewilderment about me when a lad dashed out of a gate. Seemingly unaware of anything else, he emitted a most shrilling scream, like one who is about to fall into a cauldron of liquid bronze, and plummeted into the center of the cave. Instantly he too became incandescent and perfectly motionless, while the echo of his dying wail lingered for an instant more.
  • Terribly frightened, I stared briefly at him for a while. He seemed to be one of my Oratory boys. "Isn't he so and so?" I asked my guide.
  • "Yes," was the answer.
  • "Why is he so still, so incandescent?"
  • "You chose to see," he replied. "Be satisfied with that. Just keep looking. Besides, "Everyone shall be salted with fire." (Mark 9: 48)
  • As I looked again, another boy came hurtling down into the cave at breakneck speed. He too was from the Oratory. A he fell, so he remained. He too emitted one single heart-rending shriek that blended with the last echo of the scream that came from the youth who had preceded him. Other boys kept hurtling in the same way in increasing numbers, all screaming the same way and then all becoming equally motionless and incandescent. I noticed that the first seemed frozen to the spot, one hand and one foot raised into the air; the second boy seemed bent almost double to the floor. Others stood or hung in various other positions, balancing themselves on one foot or hand, sitting or lying on their backs or on their sides, standing or kneeling, hands clutching their hair. Briefly, the scene resembled a large statuary group of youngsters cast into ever more painful postures. Other lads hurtled into that same furnace. Some I knew; others were strangers to me. I then recalled what is written in the Bible to the effect that as one falls into Hell, so he shall forever remain. ". . . in what place soever it shall fall, there shall it be." (Ecclesiastes 11:3)
  • More frightened than ever, I asked my guide, "When these boys come dashing into this cave, don't they know where they are going?"
  • "They surely do. They have been warned a thousand times, but they still choose to rush into the fire because they do not detest sin and are loath to forsake it. Furthermore, they despise and reject God's incessant, merciful invitations to do penance. Thus provoked, Divine Justice harries them, hounds them, and goads them on so that they cannot halt until the reach this place."
  • "Oh, how miserable these unfortunate boys must feel in knowing they no longer have any hope," I exclaimed.
  • "If you really want to know their innermost frenzy and fury, go a little closer," my guide remarked.
  • I took a few steps forward and saw that many of those poor wretches were savagely striking at each other like mad dogs. Others were clawing their own faces and hands, tearing their own flesh and spitefully throwing it about. Just then the entire ceiling of the cave became as transparent as crystal and revealed a patch of Heaven and their radiant companions safe for all eternity.
  • The poor wretches, fuming and panting with envy, burned with rage because they had once ridiculed the just. "The wicked shall see, and be angry, he shall gnash with his teeth, and pine away. . . " (Psalms 111: 10)
  • "Why do hear no sound?" I asked my guide,
  • "Go closer!" he advised.
  • Pressing my ear to the crystal window, I heard screams and sobs, blasphemies and imprecations against the Saints. It was a tumult of voices and cries, shrill and confused.
  • "When they recall the happy lot of their good companions," he replied, "they are obliged to admit: "We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour. Behold, how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints. Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun of understanding hath not risen upon us." (Wisdom 5:4-6)
  • "We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and destruction, and have walked through hard ways, but the way of the Lord we have not known. What hath pride profited us ? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us ? All those things are passed away like a shadow." (Wisdom 5: 7-9)
  • "Here time is no more. Here is only eternity."
  • While I viewed the condition of many of my boys in utter terror, a thought suddenly struck me. "How can these boys be damned?" I asked. "Last night they were still alive at the Oratory!"
  • "The boys you see here," he answered, "are all dead to God's grace. Were they to die now or persist in their evil ways, they would be damned. But we are wasting time. Let us go on."
  • He led me away and we went down through a corridor into a lower cavern, at whose entrance I read: "Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched." (Isaias 66: 24) "He will give fire, and worms into their flesh, and they may burn and may feel forever." (Judith 16: 21)
  • Here one could see how atrocious was the remorse of those who had been pupils in our schools. What a torment was their, to remember each unforgiven sin and its just punishment, the countless, even extraordinary means they had had to mend their ways, persevere in virtue, and earn paradise, and their lack of response to the many favors promised and bestowed by the Virgin Mary. What a torture to think that they couId have been saved so easily, yet now are irredeemably lost, and to remember the many good resolutions made and never kept. Hell is indeed paved with good intentions!
  • In this lower cavern I again saw those Oratory boys who had fallen into the fiery furnace. Some are listening to me right now; others are former pupils or even strangers to me. I drew closer to them and noticed that they were all covered with worms and vermin which gnawed at their vitals, hearts, eyes, hands, legs, and entire bodies so ferociously as to defy description. Helpless and motionless, they were a prey to every kind of torment. Hoping I might be able to speak with them or to hear something from them, I drew even closer but no one spoke or even looked at me. I then asked my guide why, and he explained that the damned are totally deprived of freedom. Each must fully endure his own punishment, with absolutely no reprieve whatever.
  • "And now," he added, "you too must enter that cavern."
  • "Oh, no!" I objected in terror. "Before going to Hell, one has to be judged. I have not been judged yet, and so I will not go to Hell!"
  • "Listen," he said, "what would you rather do: visit Hell and save your boys, or stay outside and leave them in agony?"
  • For a moment I was struck speechless. "Of course I love my boys and wish to save them all," I replied, "but isn't there some other way out?"
  • "Yes, there is a way," he went on, "provided you do all you can."
  • I breathed more easily and instantly said to myself, I don 't mind slaving if I can rescue these beloved sons of mine from such torments.
  • "Come inside then," my friend went on, "and see how our good, almighty God lovingly provides a thousand means for guiding your boys to penance and saving them from everlasting death."
  • Taking my hand, he led me into the cave. As I stepped in, I found myself suddenly transported into a magnificent hall whose curtained glass doors concealed more entrances.
  • Above one of them I read this inscription: The Sixth Commandment. Pointing to it, my guide exclaimed, "Transgressions of this commandment caused the eternal ruin of many boys."
  • "Didn't they go to confession?"
  • "They did, but they either omitted or insufficiently confessed the sins against the beautiful virtue of purity, saying for instance that they had committed such sins two or three times when it was four or five. Other boys may have fallen into that sin but once in their childhood, and, through shame, never confessed it or did so insufficiently. Others were not truly sorry or sincere in their resolve to avoid it in the future. There were even some who, rather than examine their conscience, spent their time trying to figure out how best to deceive their confessor. Anyone dying in this frame of mind chooses to be among the damned, and so he is doomed for all eternity. Only those who die truly repentant shall be eternally happy. Now do you want to see why our merciful God brought you here?" He lifted the curtain and I saw a group of Oratory boys -- all known to me -- who were there because of this sin. Among them were some whose conduct seems to be good.
  • "Now you will surely let me take down their names so that I may warn them individually," I exclaimed.
  • "Then what do you suggest I tell them?"< /LI>
  • "Always preach against immodesty. A generic warning will suffice. Bear in mind that even if you did admonish them individually, they would promise, but not always in earnest. For a firm resolution, one needs God's grace which will not be denied to your boys if they pray. God manifests His power especially by being merciful and forgiving. On your part, pray and make sacrifices. As for the boys, let them listen to your admonitions and consult thei conscience. It will tell them what to do."
  • We spent the next half hour discussing the requisites of a good confession. Afterward, my guide several times exclaimed in a loud voice, "Avertere! Avertere!"
  • "What do you mean?" I asked.
  • "Change life! "
  • Perplexed, I bowed my head and made as if to withdraw, but he held me back.
  • "You haven't seen everything yet," he explained.
  • He turned and lifted another curtain bearing this inscription: "They who would become rich, full into temptation, and and to the snare of the devil." (1 Timothy 6: 9) (Note: would become rich: wish to become rich, seek riches, set their heart and affections toward riches.)
  • "This does not apply to my boys! I countered, "because they are as poor as I am. We are not rich and do not want to be. We give it no thought."
  • As the curtain was lifted, however, I saw a group of boys, all known to me. They were in pain, like those I had seen before. Pointing to them, my guide remarked, "As you see, the inscription does apply to your boys."
  • "But how?" I asked.
  • "Well," he said, "some boys are so attached to material possessions that their love of God is lessened. Thus they sin against charity, piety, and meekness. Even the mere desire of riches can corrupt the heart, especially if such a desire leads to injustice. Your boys are poor, but remember that greed and idleness are bad counselors. One of your boys committed substantial thefts in his native town, and though he could make restitution, he gives it not a thought. There are others who try to break into the pantry or the prefect's or economer's office; those who rummage in their companions' trunks for food, money, or possessions; those who steal stationery and books...."
  • After naming these boys and others as well, he continued, "Some are here for having stolen clothes, linen, blankets, and coats from the Oratory wardrobe in order to send them home to their families; others for willful, serious damage; others, yet, for not having given back what they had borrowed or for having kept sums of money they were supposed to hand over to the superior. Now that you know who these boys are," he concluded, "admonish them. Tell them to curb all vain, harmful desires, to obey God's law and to safeguard their reputation jealously lest greed lead them to greater excesses and plunge them into sorrow, death, and damnation."
  • I couldn't understand why such dreadful punishments should be meted out for infractions that boys thought so little of, but my guide shook me out of my thoughts by saying: "Recall what you were told when you saw those spoiled grapes on the wine." With these words he lifted another curtain which hid many of our Oratory boys, all of whom I recognized instantly. The inscription on the curtain read: The root of all evils.
  • "Do you know what that means?" he asked me immediately.
  • "What sin does that refer to?"
  • "Pride?"
  • "No!"
  • "And yet I have always heard that pride is the root of all evil."
  • "It is, generally speaking, but, specifically, do you know what led Adam and Eve to commit the first sin for which they were driven away from their earthly paradise?"
  • "Disobedience?"
  • "Exactly! Disobedience is the root of all evil."
  • "What shall I tell my boys about it?"
  • "Listen carefulIy: the boys you see here are those who prepare such a tragic end for themselves by being disobedient. So-and-so and so-and-so, who you think went to bed, leave the dormitory later in the night to roam about the playground, and, contrary to orders, they stray into dangerous areas and up scaffolds, endangering even their lives. Others go to church, but, ignoring recommendations, they misbehave; instead of praying, they daydream or cause a disturbance. There are also those who make themselves comfortable so as to doze off during church services, and those who only make believe they are going to church. Woe to those who neglect prayer! He who does not pray dooms himself to perdition. Some are here because, instead of singing hymns or saying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, they read frivolous or -- worse yet -- forbidden books." He then went on mentioning other serious breaches of discipline.

    When he was done, I was deeply moved.

  • "May I mention all these things to my boys?" I asked, looking at him straight in the eye.
  • "Yes, you may tell them whatever you remember."
  • "What advice shall I give them to safeguard them from such a tragedy?"
  • "Keep telling them that by obeying God, the Church, their parents, and their superiors, even in little things, they will be saved."
  • "Anything else?"
  • "Warn them against idleness. Because of idleness David fell into sin. Tell them to keep busy at all times, because the devil will not then have a chance to tempt them."
  • I bowed my head and promised. Faint with dismay, I could only mutter, "Thanks for having been so good to me. Now, please lead me out of here."
  • "All right, then, come with me." Encouragingly he took my hand and held me up because I could hardly stand on my feet. Leaving that hall, in no time at all we retraced our steps through that horrible courtyard and the long corridor. But as soon as we stepped across the last bronze portal, he turned to me and said, "Now that you have seen what others suffer, you too must experience a touch of Hell."
  • "No, no!" I cried in terror.
  • He insisted, but I kept refusing.
  • "Do not be afraid," he told me; "just try it. Touch this wall."
  • I could not muster enough courage and tried to get away, but he held me back. "Try it," he insisted. Gripping my arm firmly, he pulled me to the wall. "Only one touch," he cornmanded, "so that you may say you have both seen and touched the walls of eternal suffering and that you may understand what the last wall must be like if the first is so unendurable. Look at this wall!"
  • I did intently. It seemed incredibly thick. "There are a thousand walls between this and the real fire of Hell," my guide continued. "A thousand walls encompass it, each a thousand measures thick and equally distant from the next one. Each measure is a thousand miles. This wall therefore is millions and millions of miles from Hell's real fire. It is just a remote rim of Hell itself."
  • When he said this, I instinctively pulled back, but he seized my hand, forced it open, and pressed it against the first of the thousand walls. The sensation was so utterly excruciating that I leaped back with a scream and found myself sitting up in bed. My hand was stinging and I kept rubbing it to ease the pain. When I got up this morning I noticed that it was swollen. Having my hand pressed against the wall, though only in a dream, felt so real that, later, the skin of my palm peeled off.
  • Bear in mind that I have tried not to frighten you very much, and so I have not described these things in all their horror as I saw them and as they impressed me. We know that Our Lord always portrayed Hell in symbols because, had He described it as it really is, we would not have understood Him. No mortal can comprehend these things. The Lord knows them and He reveals them to whomever He wills.

    Footnotes by Bro. Alexis Bugnolo

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    For Historical and Military Dates:

    The Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. to the Present, R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, Harper & Row, New York, 1970.

    The Atlas of Military Strategy, David G. Chandler, The Free Press, New York, 1980.

    Dynastic and Genealogical Information:

    Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe, Michael Maclagan & Jirí Louda, Carkson N. Potter Publishers Inc., New York, 1981.

    The Kingdoms of Europe: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ruling Monarchs from Ancient Times to the Present, Gene Gurney, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1982.

    Other General Historical Information:

    Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, Norma H. Dickey, editor, Fink & Wagnalls, Inc., 1986.

    The Columbia Encyclopedia, William Bridgwater & Seymour Kurtz, editors, Columbia University Press, New York, 1963.

    The Catholic Almanac, Felician A. Foy, O.F.M., editor, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntingdon, Indiana, 1985.

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