INTRODUCTIONThis is the second of the ten extant letters between Abate Giovambattista Follo of Paduli and Mr. Michele Zullo of Jamaica, Queens, N.Y. (See the first letter in Blogpost 5.)
Below, first appears a jpeg image of the original letter in Italian. This is followed by an English translation.
ORIGINAL LETTER IN ITALIAN
12 November, 1949
Just this moment I received your most cordial letter, and I am hastening to respond to it and also to the letter which involves your nomination to the title of Commendatore. I am certain of your affection and have never doubted it. Equally, I can assure you of mine; to me you are a true confidant, and what you tell me I regard as an inestimable treasure because your counsel is very wise.
I have never doubted you nor your work for the good of the Church of Paduli; and if there are those of malintention who wish to end our most cordial and affectionate friendship, all of them will be unmasked at seeing the good works that have been accomplished for the benefit of the Church, which must always be beautified and enriched as much as possible to draw souls to the Lord.
Regarding the [Bronze] Plaque, I am always ready to receive the orders; and as of this moment, the Church stands ready, and as soon as it arrives, the Plaque will be placed by the side of the gift [the organ] so that all will know who the contributors were.
I quite understand your concerns regarding collecting [funds] for the Organ and then placing them at my disposal; but, because you have already encountered some obstacles, it is better this way, and at least it will not be said that I have taken the money. It is better that you do it all in America and that you send the Plaque here completed and done.
They telegraphed me from Microtecnica stating that the second diffuser has been ordered, and that they would have it sent as soon as possible. We have to have this second diffuser because otherwise the gift will be incomplete.
The cloth for my habit must be completely of wool and no other material. Your wife is very good and very precise in these matters; and I thank her for her generosity a thousand and a thousand times, hoping that I can return the favor at an opportune time.
Your godmother Tino stays at home and is well. The father, Ciccio, is a communist and regularly likes to raise his elbow with a glass of wine, but he does not disturb anyone and minds his own business, and when he finds a bit of work he does it in the grace of God.
Don Errico De Vivo has written me to thank me for the messages, and he sent me some Holy Masses that I am already celebrating. I have no problem with his young nephew who is over there; on the contrary, it is he who is cool toward me because of the post of Abbot. But, when we parted, we saluted one another cordially. He has never written to me from there, yet his uncle has written to me
Regarding the Bell, you should take charge of it. I would only say to you that you should not involve your paesani [fellow Padulesi] so many of whom are politicians and critics. If it should not succeed, do not blame yourself, and do not worry about it. If later you should find an easier way, then you should go ahead. However, you should know by now that even the Bell will be completely due to your merit, just as were the Loudspeakers, the Globes, and the Organ. You are the one who thought of them all, and the merit will always be all yours. Regarding the honorific title of Commendatore, just say that it arrived from Italy without your knowing how or who recommended you for such an honor. You know well the reasons why.
With heartfelt greetings to your whole family, especially your wife. A thousand greetings and salutations. Good work. Most affectionately,
Abbot G. B. Follo
Date Stamped: 12-11-49 [day.month.year], Paduli, Benevento
No stamps on envelope
Addressee (front of envelope): Al Commendatore Mir. ZULLO MICHELE, 185 – 05 Jamaica Ave., HOLLIS – N.Y., U.S.A.
Sender (back of envelope): L”ABATE di Paduli (Benevento), ITALY
Translated by Alexander DeAngelis and revised May 2, 2015
Interestingly, the Abbot begins the letter with reaffirmations of the Abbot’s affection of friendship and esteem for Michele referring to him as a confidant and some of wise counsel. The Abbot must have had some reason to reassert this so directly. We are left to conjecture that someone must have raised doubts about the Abbot’s true feelings.
The previous themes of the donations to the Church from the Padulese immigrants in America again appear in this letter. In addition, we learn that there is some suspicion of the Abbot within the Padulese immigrant community over who controls the funds. Apparently some did not want the Abbot in control. The Abbot agrees that Michele should control all of the funds. Curiously the word he when referring to the funds is “moneta” which is usually currently used to refer to small amounts in coins or change – instead of the usual word “soldi” – but which can also be used generically for money. I don’t know whether this has any significance. In addition, for the first time the Abbot mentions the cloth for his vestments. Apparently the cloth was being provided by Michel and his wife.
Politics again appear in this letter. The Abbot mentions that “Ciccio is a communist”, albeit a harmless one. He gratuitously adds that Ciccio likes “to bend his elbow with a glass of wine.” (There aren’t many who don’t.)
Abbot Follo also mentions Don Errico (Enrico/Henry) De Vivo who was Pastor at St. Rita’s Church in Connellsville, Pennsylvania (see Blogpost 2). We lean for the first time that Don Errico had a nephew, presumably also a priest, who was cool to the Abbot over his appointment (1947) as Abbot.
Finally, the Abbot again attributes all of the responsibility and recognition for the many gifts to the church to Michele alone and to no others. Truly Michele’s role was large, but to discount the contributions of others seems rather ungrateful.Below