This is the ninth letter in the ten letter series. It covers fully two pages. The organ has arrived. Now the Abbot presses to get the bell installed during the Holy Year of 1950 and urges Michele to bend every effort to accomplish this. We also learn that according to Abbot Follo, the liberal leaders of the municipality are attempting to oust the Sisters because they may induce people to vote against them. We also learn that Abbot Follo is annoyed and angry with Eugenio Politano for, as he sees it, spreading negative gossip within the Padulesi community in America. Also, he advises Michele not to involve the young priest De Vivo because of his bad temperament, but definitely to invite the older Errico De Vivo to participate in discussions.
ORIGINAL LETTER IN ITALIAN
Paduli, 21 March 1950
After some time, I am commencing to write you this letter to assure you of our optimum state of health, not to mention having received your letters.
You should not think badly of me because of my silence. If you only knew how I have been consumed in this period. I have had a mission of three Preachers who, as a result of their preaching have attracted a great many people to the Church. I can confirm to you that it has been a triumph of the faith in all ways both internal and external, no matter what the few evil gossiping enemies of the faith are saying.
After the Holy Mission, we had the solemn Forty Hours Devotion that took place over four days with a solemnity such as to amaze the whole community. Along with the solemnity, we also had this year the grand organ affectionately donated by you. The organ has become more than powerful following the donation of the second diffuser.
Another distraction that has impeded my writing to you was the trouble that the liberal gentlemen who run the community are making with all means possible and imaginable to cast out the Sisters and to close the Children’s’ Asylum because they look upon with the evil eye the Sisters’ efforts with the young women of Catholic Action and on the Asylum itself. This is as a result of the fact that the Sisters are attracting all the young women of the community, and the usual enemies do not want to see such holy education, thus they say, “These young women will make us lose the election!”
To see to it that in the end the sisters will not have to go away, I am personally involved with the Provincial authorities of Benevento, not to mention the various ministries in Rome, by means of written statements and memorials. The struggle continues in the hope of being able to achieve victory for the poor Sisters, who do so much good, so that they may be able to stay in Paduli.
All of these multiple activities have impeded me from writing to you. Now I shall respond to your letters as is due them.
The plan that you have conceived regarding the Bell, that is, to form various groups, and then to invite the heads of these groups to your home for a drink, is one that I approve in fully because you know quite well the soul of the Padulesi and what action is needed to be taken in order to achieve certain ends.
My advice would be that it is not opportune to invite the young priest De Vivo, given his temperament, but above all do invite the Abbot Monsignor Errico De Vivo.
I will keep such a plan secret.
I assure you that I have received the detailed account concerning the organ, and that I will put it into the dedication as a perpetual remembrance of you.
I am pleased with the offerings that our [compatriots] are giving for the Plaque [to commemorate the donors] of the Organ. Equally, I am happy that it will arrive for the month of July. However, I would like to have you note that persons of seriousness and character should accompany the Plaque so as not to repeat what happened at the inauguration of the Organ.
Now in greatest confidence I wish to inform you that here in Paduli there are many families that are crying over the things that Eugenio Politano said when he returned to America, and it is a fact that many of their relatives [in America] are no longer writing to these families.
Truthfully, the thing that is most in my heart now is the Bell. If it could be done in a short while and perhaps even before the feast of St. Rocco, it would be a real miracle. I am appealing to the people from the altar and announcing my own gift of 25 thousand lire, but no one has followed my example due to the persistent unemployment and misery that still endures due to the drought and hailstorms of recent years. Certainly, this Holy Year would be an opportune time in which to install the Bell, also because it would be inscribed with the year and the names of the donors.
Dear Michele, try [to accomplish this] with every means. I know how you have suffered for me, recognizing as I look back directly at our fellow townsmen concerning the organ how much petty gossip was brought forth. You are an ingenious thinker, and I am certain that you will succeed.
I had an expert in these matters visit the house of your ancestors in Via San Antonio Abate because you wrote to me that you would like to spend a season in Paduli. The house is in bad shape; it urgently needs four small beams not to mention general repairs to the whole roof and related surfaces, and also repairs to all the framed openings (windows and doors). The tenant that currently inhabits the place is Raffaele Politano, a son of the late Politano Francesco. He separated legally from his wife and is now living with a Sicilian woman. It is not possible to proceed with an eviction because here in Italy there is a rent freeze until the end of 1952.
If your kind wife truly decides to come to Italy, I repeat once more that my home is completely at her disposal and that I would be offended otherwise. I believe that the more I urge you to come, the more likely it will be that she will decide to come.
About the house where your Godfather, Ciccio Tino, lives, I would note that the poor fellow tries to take care of it by himself repairing it as best he can within his means.
Today your Godmother Addolorata came to greet me. She got out of the hospital yesterday where she had an operation for appendicitis. The girl [her daughter?] is well and needs to get up and going again.
As for the requests from the Father Guardian of the Convent, you should manage them as best you can.
The package containing the material for my cassock and the tobacco has not yet arrived, and therefore I have to thank you in advance while letting you know that it has not yet arrived.
I thank you for what you wrote to me concerning my activities as Pastor communicated to you by Ida Moleti and her husband Nicolino Marmorale. Concerning this matter, I want to make clear to you that the aforementioned Nicolino Marmorale is the son of Gaetano (Lupachiello [wolf cub]) and that the mother also is still living.
I am much grieved to learn that you and your wife have been ill. I hope that you and your wife both are enjoying good health at the receipt of this letter. Meanwhile, try always to be careful and not to over exert yourselves with work. At a certain age, one needs to keep watch over one’s body through preventative medical care. I pray always to the Lord and to Saint Rocco, our Holy Protector, that you be preserved in good health for yourself and for the joy of your entire family. My most affectionate wishes for your health, peace, and prosperity in the name of my family,
With affection I salute you dearly,
Yours most affectionately,
Abbot G. Battista Follo
NOTES AND COMMENTS
Letter Follo-Zullo21Mar50: Typewritten on two sides of 8.5 x 11 onionskin paper. No envelope. Translated by Alexander De,Angelis 4 March 2001 and revised 13 May 2015