Paschali, Giovanni Luigi
Paschali, Giovanni Luigi, a martyr to the Protestant cause in Italy, was a native of Coni, in Piedmont, and was descended of respectable parentage. He was born about 1525, and in early life was a soldier. Converted to God, he forsook the army and went to Geneva, there to, study Protestant theology under Calvin. Paschali became so interested in the Reformed doctrines that he wrote pamphlets in their advocacy, and also urged the translation of the Bible into the Italian, in order that the populace might be more thoroughly instructed in God's truth. From Geneva. where he received the freedom of the city, he went, with some other students, to Lausanne. At the latter place he continued his studies under Viret. About this time it happened that the poor Waldensian Christians of Calabria, in the southern part of Italy, appealed to Calvin for a teacher — for the Inquisition, first of all, robbed the flocks of their shepherds, in order the better to get the sheep into its power. The necessity was duly considered by the principal persons of the Italian congregation at Geneva, and they found no one better fitted for the task than Paschali, now at Lausanne. When he heard .the news of this appointment he was on the eve of being married, but he concluded to postpone this step, and accepted the call of the Church as of the Lord. In 1559 Paschali was received with joy by the Waldenses, and he began his work among them with great zeal and courage. Of course the congregation had to be' secretly maintained, and so it came about that when his ministrations were learned. of at court he was imprisoned at Tuscaldo. His trial came off before the vicar-general, Dec. 27, 1559, but no judgment was pronounced at its conclusion, and he was simply transported to Cosenza by ship, and there was again imprisoned. A new hearing was given him on February 21, but as he refused to recant, he was, April 14, 1560, removed to Naples with other Protestants who refused to deny their faith. On their arrival in Naples they were all thrown into the common prison, where the water trickled from the ceiling. Paschali, after a long examination, remained there until May 9, and was then changed to the bishop's prison. But soon after they were informed that they must go to Rome. They made the journey by ship, and this prisoner of the Lord did not cease openly to preach the Gospel to his fellow-sufferers and the ship's crew, which act was, on his arrival in Rome, on May 15, charged against him as an additional crime. Together with his companions, he was placed in the prison of the Inquisition, a damp, subterranean vault of Torre di Nona, surrounded by the waters of the Tiber. They were obliged to lie on the damp ground, for not even a straw bed was given them. The next day Bartolomeo, the brother of Paschali, arrived from Coni with letters of recommendation to influential men of the papal court, and, among others, to the grand inquisitor, cardinal Alexandrini. But no one gave him any hope for the freedom of his brother; the writing of Protestant tracts was an' offense not easily forgiven. Only with great trouble did he succeed in securing permission to see his brother in presence of an inquisitor and a monk, and that on the promise that he should try to move him to recant. Bartolomeo, who was not yet converted to Protestantism, but who clung to his brother with a natural love, and had certainly risked somewhat in taking his part, described, in a letter to his son Carlos, who was in Geneva with Paschali's betrothed, the state in which he found his brother:
"I saw him," he said, "in a narrow room, where those were kept who were shortly to be executed. There he lay with bare head, and bound hand and foot, so that the cords pressed through his skin and flesh. When I saw him. in such misery, and wished to embrace him, I fell down from anguish, and could not utter a word. Thereupon he was much troubled, and said to me, 'My brother, are you a Christian? Why are you so deeply moved? Do you not know that not a leaf falls from the tree without the will of God? Let us rather comfort one another through Jesus Christ, since we know that these brief nimotai lives are not to be likened to our future and eternal glory.'" As the inquisitor saw that Paschali's visitor was more likely to become a convert to the Reformed cause than bring about the conversion of the prisoner, he harshly bade Paschali be silent, and overwhelmed him with reproaches. Of course the prisoner vainly defended himself from the teachings of the holy Gospel. At the earnest supplication of his brother he was, however, taken into another prison, containing a window, through which the two could speak together; but on this being noticed, the window was walled up. When, on his next visit, Bartolomeo wished to persuade Giovanni to submit somewhat, so that he might take him home alive, he answered: "I yearn for heavenly blessings with such a longing that I care nothing for earthly things, not even for my own life. Therefore cease your persuasions, for I have bound Jesus Christ so fast to my heart that no one cant separate me from him." Bartolomeo Paschali used every effort to get his brother's sentence commuted to a few years' imprisonment, of which he would bear the expense, but it was all in vain. He visited him twice more, and on his second visit he gave him to understand that he must think of his own safety, as he had heard that he was himself "held in suspicion by the Inquisition for being of the, same religion as his brother." Shortly after Paschali had overcome this additional trial, the day of his final release arrived. On Sunday, Sept. 8, 1560, he was taken to the cloister of La Miinerva, where his sentence was publicly read to him. After he had acknowledged the authenticity of his declarations, and thanked God for the honor of which he was counted worthy, he was again conducted to prison. The next day, Sept. 9, the people went to the execution. The martyr was led bound to the Campo di Fiore, in sight of the castle of St. Angelo, where the pope had gone, accompanied by the cardinals and other prelates. As Paschali undertook to preach to the people, to the pope, and his prelates, there arose a great commotion, and every one demanded that he should be immediately put to death. Thereupon the executioner quickly threw the rope about his neck and strangled him, after which his corpse was burned. See Hurst, Martyrs for the Tract Cause, p. 28 sq.; Mc'Crie, Hist. of the Ref. in Italy.