An Account Of Several Remarkable Individuals Who Were Martyred In Different Parts Of Italy On Account Of Their Religion

John Mollius was born at Rome, of reputable parents. At twelve years of

age they placed him in the monastery of Gray Friars, where he made such

a rapid progress in arts, sciences, and languages, that at eighteen

years of age he was permitted to take priest's orders.

He was then sent to Ferrara, where, after pursuing his studies six years

longer, he was made theological reader in the university of that city.

> He now, unhappily, exerted his great talents to disguise the gospel

truths, and to varnish over the errors of the church of Rome. After some

years residence in Ferrara, he removed to the university of Bononia,

where he became a professor. Having read some treatises written by

ministers of the reformed religion, he grew fully sensible of the errors

of popery, and soon became a zealous protestant in his heart.

He now determined to expound, accordingly to the purity of the gospel,

St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, in a regular course of sermons. The

concourse of people that continually attended his preaching was

surprising, but when the priests found the tenor of his doctrines, they

despatched an account of the affair to Rome; when the pope sent a monk,

named Cornelius, to Bononia, to expound the same epistle, according to

the tenets of the church of Rome. The people, however, found such a

disparity between the two preachers, that the audience of Mollius

increased, and Cornelius was forced to preach to empty benches.

Cornelius wrote an account of his bad success to the pope, who

immediately sent an order to apprehend Mollius, who was seized upon

accordingly, and kept in close confinement. The bishop of Bononia sent

him word that he must recant, or be burnt; but he appealed to Rome, and

was removed thither.

At Rome he begged to have a public trial, but that the pope absolutely

denied him, and commanded him to give an account of his opinions in

writing, which he did under the following heads:

Original sin. Free-will. The infallibility of the church of Rome. The

infallibility of the pope. Justification by faith. Purgatory.

Transubstantiation. Mass. Auricular confession. Prayers for the dead.

The host. Prayers for saints. Going on pilgrimages. Extreme unction.

Performing service in an unknown tongue, &c. &c.

All these he confirmed from scripture authority. The pope, upon this

occasion, for political reasons, spared him for the present, but soon

after had him apprehended, and put to death; he being first hanged, and

his body burnt to ashes, A. D. 1553.

The year after, Francis Gamba, a Lombard, of the protestant persuasion,

was apprehended, and condemned to death by the senate of Milan. At the

place of execution, a monk presented a cross to him, to whom he said, My

mind is so full of the real merits and goodness of Christ, that I want

not a piece of senseless stick to put me in mind of him. For this

expression his tongue was bored through, and he was afterwards burnt.

A. D. 1555, Algerius, a student in the university of Padua, and a man of

great learning, having embraced the reformed religion, did all he could

to convert others. For these proceedings he was accused of heresy to the

pope, and being apprehended, was committed to the prison at Venice.

The pope, being informed of Algerius's great learning, and surprising

natural abilities, thought it would be of infinite service to the church

of Rome, if he could induce him to forsake the protestant cause. He,

therefore, sent for him to Rome, and tried, by the most profane

promises, to win him to his purpose. But finding his endeavours

ineffectual, he ordered him to be burnt, which sentence was executed


A. D. 1559, John Alloysius, being sent from Geneva to preach in

Calabria, was there apprehended as a protestant, carried to Rome, and

burnt by order of the pope; and James Bovellus, for the same reason, was

burnt at Messina.

A. D. 1560, pope Pius the Fourth, ordered all the protestants to be

severely persecuted throughout the Italian states, when great numbers of

every age, sex, and condition, suffered martyrdom. Concerning the

cruelties practised upon this occasion, a learned and humane Roman

catholic thus spoke of them, in a letter to a noble lord:

"I cannot, my lord, forbear disclosing my sentiments, with respect to

the persecution now carrying on: I think it cruel and unnecessary; I

tremble at the manner of putting to death, as it resembles more the

slaughter of calves and sheep, than the execution of human beings. I

will relate to your lordship a dreadful scene, of which I was myself an

eye-witness: seventy protestants were cooped up in one filthy dungeon

together; the executioner went in among them, picked out one from among

the rest, blindfolded him, led him out to an open place before the

prison, and cut his throat with the greatest composure. He then calmly

walked into the prison again, bloody as he was, and with the knife in

his hand selected another, and despatched him in the same manner; and

this, my lord, he repeated till the whole number were put to death. I

leave it to your lordship's feelings to judge of my sensations upon this

occasion; my tears now wash the paper upon which I give you the recital.

Another thing I must mention--the patience with which they met death:

they seemed all resignation and piety, fervently praying to God, and

cheerfully encountering their fate. I cannot reflect without shuddering,

how the executioner held the bloody knife between his teeth; what a

dreadful figure he appeared, all covered with blood, and with what

unconcern he executed his barbarous office."

A young Englishman who happened to be at Rome, was one day passing by a

church, when the procession of the host was just coming out. A bishop

carried the host, which the young man perceiving, he snatched it from

him, threw it upon the ground, and trampled it under his feet, crying

out, Ye wretched idolaters, who neglect the true God, to adore a morsel

of bread. This action so provoked the people, that they would have torn

him to pieces on the spot; but the priests persuaded them to let him

abide by the sentence of the pope.

When the affair was represented to the pope, he was so greatly

exasperated that he ordered the prisoner to be burnt immediately; but a

cardinal dissuaded him from this hasty sentence, saying, it was better

to punish him by slow degrees, and to torture him, that they might find

out if he had been instigated by any particular person to commit so

atrocious an act.

This being approved, he was tortured with the most exemplary severity,

notwithstanding which they could only get these words from him, It was

the will of God that I should do as I did.

The pope then passed this sentence upon him.

1. That he should be led by the executioner, naked to the middle,

through the streets of Rome.

2. That he should wear the image of the devil upon his head.

3. That his breeches should be painted with the representation of


4. That he should have his right hand cut off.

5. That after having been carried about thus in procession, he should be


When he heard this sentence pronounced, he implored God to give him

strength and fortitude to go through it. As he passed through the

streets he was greatly derided by the people, to whom he said some

severe things respecting the Romish superstition. But a cardinal, who

attended the procession, overhearing him, ordered him to be gagged.

When he came to the church door, where he trampled on the host, the

hangman cut off his right hand, and fixed it on a pole. Then two

tormentors, with flaming torches, scorched and burnt his flesh all the

rest of the way. At the place of execution he kissed the chains that

were to bind him to the stake. A monk presenting the figure of a saint

to him, he struck it aside, and then being chained to the stake, fire

was put to the fagots, and he was soon burnt to ashes.

A little after the last mentioned execution, a venerable old man, who

had long been a prisoner in the inquisition, was condemned to be burnt,

and brought out for execution. When he was fastened to the stake, a

priest held a crucifix to him, on which he said "If you do not take that

idol from my sight, you will constrain me to spit upon it." The priest

rebuked him for this with great severity; but he bade him remember the

first and second commandments, and refrain from idolatry, as God himself

had commanded. He was then gagged, that he should not speak any more,

and fire being put to the fagots, he suffered martyrdom in the flames.