Friday, January 13, 2006

Priest, Revolutionary

Giuseppe Cesare Abba was one of Garibaldi's Thousand, who in 1860 routed the Bourbon armies of Sicily and Naples more of less because they had the nerve. Abba published a memoir six years later in the form of a diary. It was called Da Quarto al Volturno (from Quarto, the place near Genoa from which Garibaldi set sail for Sicily, to the Volturno River, the last battle against the Neapolitans).
Just a few days after the Battle of Calatafimi, in which Garibaldi confirmed to the Neapolitans that he was invincible, Abba found himself sitting on a hillside trying to convince a priest to join them, this band of brothers whose greatest enemy was the Pope.

- Come along. Everyone'll love you.
- I can't.
- Because you're a priest? We've already got one.
- I'd come, if I thought you were going to do something truly great. But I've been talking to your lot. All they say is that they're going to unify Italy.
- Exactly! To make it one people.
- One people? If it suffers, it suffers, whether one or many. But tell me. Will you make it happy?
- Happy? We'll give the people freedom and schools.
- And that's it!?, said the priest. Because Freedom isn't bread, and nor is school. These things may be enough for you Piedmontese, but not for us.
- What'd be enough for you?
- Not a war against the Bourbons, but a war of the oppressed against all the oppressors big and small, and not just those at court, but in every city and in every villa.
- So against you priests as well, with your monasteries and lands everywhere a body can eat?
- First of all against us. Before all the others. But with the Gospel in one hand and the cross in the other. Then I would come. But this, this is too little.
Now, the poor man lived in Sicily, so you really can't blame him for calling down the Apocolypse. But there you have the revolutionary: a priest calling for spiritual renewal by means of an army.

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