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An Account Of The Persecution In Italy Under The Papacy

We shall now enter on an account of the persecutions in Italy, a country
which has been, and still is,

1. The centre of popery.

2. The seat of the pontiff.

3. The source of the various errors which have spread themselves over
other countries, deluded the minds of thousands, and diffused the clouds
of superstition and bigotry over the human understanding.

In pursuing our narrative we shall include the most remarkable
persecutions which have happened, and the cruelties which have been

1. By the immediate power of the pope.

2. Through the power of the inquisition.

3. At the instigation of particular orders of the clergy.

4. By the bigotry of the Italian princes.

In the 12th century, the first persecutions under the papacy began in
Italy, at the time that Adrian, an Englishman, was pope, being
occasioned by the following circumstances:

A learned man, and an excellent orator of Brixia, named Arnold came to
Rome, and boldly preached against the corruptions and innovations which
had crept into the church. His discourses were so clear, consistent, and
breathed forth such a pure spirit of piety, that the senators, and many
of the people, highly approved of, and admired his doctrines.

This so greatly enraged Adrian, that he commanded Arnold instantly to
leave the city, as a heretic. Arnold, however, did not comply, for the
senators, and some of the principal people, took his part, and resisted
the authority of the pope.

Adrian now laid the city of Rome under an interdict, which caused the
whole body of clergy to interpose; and, at length, persuaded the
senators and people to give up the point, and suffer Arnold to be
banished. This being agreed to, he received the sentence of exile, and
retired to Germany, where he continued to preach against the pope, and
to expose the gross errors of the church of Rome.

Adrian, on this account, thirsted for his blood, and made several
attempts to get him into his hands; but Arnold, for a long time, avoided
every snare laid for him. At length, Frederic Barbarossa arriving at the
imperial dignity, requested that the pope would crown him with his own
hand. This Adrian complied with, and at the same time asked a favour of
the emperor, which was, to put Arnold into his hands. The emperor very
readily delivered up the unfortunate preacher, who soon fell a martyr to
Adrian's vengeance, being hanged, and his body burnt to ashes, at
Apulia. The same fate attended several of his old friends and

Encenas, a Spaniard, was sent to Rome, to be brought up in the Roman
catholic faith; but having conversed with some of the reformed, and read
several treatises which they had put into his hands, he became a
protestant. This, at length, being known, one of his own relations
informed against him, when he was burnt by order of the pope, and a
conclave of cardinals. The brother of Encenas had been taken up much
about the same time, for having a New Testament, in the Spanish
language, in his possession; but before the time appointed for his
execution, he found means to escape out of prison, and retired to

Faninus, a learned layman, by reading controversial books, became of the
reformed religion. An information being exhibited against him to the
pope, he was apprehended, and cast into prison. His wife, children,
relations and friends, visited him in his confinement, and so far
wrought upon his mind, that he renounced his faith, and obtained his
release. But he was no sooner free from confinement, than his mind felt
the heaviest of chains; the weight of a guilty conscience. His horrors
were so great, that he found them insupportable, till he had returned
from his apostacy, and declared himself fully convinced of the errors
of the church of Rome. To make amends for his falling off, he now openly
and strenuously did all he could to make converts to protestantism, and
was pretty successful in his endeavours. These proceedings occasioned
his second imprisonment, but he had his life offered him if he would
recant again. This proposal he rejected with disdain, saying, that he
scorned life upon such terms. Being asked why he would obstinately
persist in his opinions and leave his wife and children in distress, he
replied, I shall not leave them in distress; I have recommended them to
the care of an excellent trustee. What trustee? said the person who had
asked the question, with some surprise: to which Faninus answered, Jesus
Christ is the trustee I mean, and I think I could not commit them to the
care of a better. On the day of execution he appeared remarkably
cheerful, which one observing, said, it is strange you should appear so
merry upon such an occasion, when Jesus Christ himself, just before his
death, was in such agonies, that he sweated blood and water. To which
Faninus replied; Christ sustained all manner of pangs and conflicts,
with hell and death, on our accounts; and thus, by his sufferings, freed
those who really believe in him from the fear of them. He was then
strangled, and his body being burnt to ashes, they were scattered about
by the wind.

Dominicus, a learned soldier, having read several controversial
writings, became a zealous protestant, and retiring to Placentia, he
preached the gospel in its utmost purity, to a very considerable
congregation. At the conclusion of his sermon one day, he said, "If the
congregation will attend to-morrow, I will give them a description of
Anti-christ, and paint him out in his proper colours."

A vast concourse of people attended the next day, but just as Dominicus
was beginning his sermon, a civil magistrate went up to the pulpit, and
took him into custody. He readily submitted; but as he went along with
the magistrate, made use of this expression: I wonder the devil hath let
me alone so long. When he was brought to examination, this question was
put to him: Will you renounce your doctrines? To which he replied: My
doctrines! I maintain no doctrines of my own; what I preach are the
doctrines of Christ, and for those I will forfeit my blood, and even
think myself happy to suffer for the sake of my Redeemer. Every method
was taken to make him recant from his faith, and embrace the errors of
the church of Rome; but when persuasions and menaces were found
ineffectual, he was sentenced to death, and hanged in the market-place.

Galeacius, a protestant gentleman, who resided near the castle of St.
Angelo, was apprehended on account of his faith. Great endeavours being
used by his friends he recanted, and subscribed to several of the
superstitious doctrines propagated by the church of Rome. Becoming,
however, sensible of his error, he publicly renounced his recantation.
Being apprehended for this, he was condemned to be burnt, and agreeable
to the order, was chained to a stake, where he was left several hours
before the fire was put to the faggots, in order that his wife,
relations, and friends, who surrounded him, might induce him to give up
his opinions. Galeacius, however, retained his constancy of mind, and
entreated the executioner to put fire to the wood that was to burn him.
This at length he did, and Galeacius was soon consumed in the flames,
which burnt with amazing rapidity and deprived him of sensation in a few

Soon after this gentleman's death, a great number of protestants were
put to death in various parts of Italy, on account of their faith,
giving a sure proof of their sincerity in their martyrdoms.

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Previous: Croly On The Inquisition

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