Andreis, Letter 002. To Vincenzo De Andreis

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoWritings of Felix de AndreisLeave a Comment

Author: Felix de Andreis · Year of first publication: 2005 · Source: Frontier Missionary. Felix De Andreis, CM. 1778-1820. Correspondence and Historical Writings By John E. Rybolt, CM. Vincentian Studies Institute, Chicago, Illinois..
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29 July 1812

My dearest brother,

I still remember the promise I made you a year ago in my last letter, that I would give you timely notice of my departure from here to our native region2. I had, so to say, pen in hand ready to fulfill this promise. I had my traveling clothes ready and my trunk packed, and the time limit set for my departure in my passport, which I still have, was about to expire. Although I did not realize it, Providence, on which I rely completely, made use of a student of mine, a Chaldean from Nineveh, to cause a delay until the end of the academic year3 There might even be some further delay. So, since my departure had been postponed, I thought I should just delay telling you of my coming as I had promised. Then this morning, quite unexpectedly, your dear letter of the 21st of this month was delivered to me. To my surprise, you informed me in it of your daring determination to undertake a trip to Rome in the near future. You can imagine how I felt at such news. It delights me greatly to know that I will have the joy of embracing you here after nearly ten years without our seeing each other. I was particularly delighted with the possibility of enjoying your company on your return home. This would bring me unspeakable relief and comfort on the journey.

Since you have asked for my advice about undertaking this journey, I must admit to being perplexed and doubtful. What should I tell you? On the one hand, God knows how much I want to see you and embrace you. But on the other hand, although I love you greatly, I would not want to deceive you and have you regret risking a journey like this on my account. I realize that the trip is long—by public coach it would take you about twenty days, and so it would be very expensive. Besides, it would take place amid very critical circumstances. Because of them I could not show you the hospitality that I would do at other times. You would not be able to see the beautiful sights of this city, but only its misery and desolation. The mule, which you are counting on to finance your trip, would fetch only a pitiful price, since business is depressed here. Because of the great miseries, sellers are many and buyers are few, such that what is worth twenty goes for five or six. To give you at least some sense of these miseries, I will tell you only that I found I had to get rid of my pocket watch to be able to help some very fine people reduced to extreme poverty and begging. My heart could not bear having anything superfluous while my neighbors lacked even the bare essentials. There is another strong reason that I cannot tell you, but you will understand it through this note, at least in general outline. It would at least delay your planned departure. Lastly, if you came to Rome you might not find me here if I had already left, and this would greatly disappoint us both. Yet in spite of all this I don’t intend to dissuade you from making your journey. Since you are looking for my agreement, however, let us do this: we will place the question in our father’s hands. He should examine these issues with his well-known prudence, and he will be able decide what is to be done. You should accept his opinion as if it were my own.

I am greatly astonished and surprised that, in the detailed description you make in your letter about our people at home, you did not mention our sister Margherita, and you leave me in doubt whether this happened through forgetfulness or through some news that I don’t know about.

Give my hearty regards to your brother-in-law, and my dear confrere [Filippo] Giriodi4, and tell him that I long to embrace him once again. Who knows, if you put off your trip to Rome somewhat, perhaps he might be able to come with you. But for now, no. To tell the truth, I cannot understand why those two religious you spoke to me about want to come to Rome, where all [religious] corporations have been suppressed and foreigners have been expelled, and are still being expelled. Once they reached here they would perhaps even regret making the trip.

Please give our father, in my name, the most tender and respectful marks of my filial love for him, and offer to all the rest of the family and relatives, friends and acquaintances my most heartfelt regards. Tell them that they have all been remembered to everyone here.

Nothing is more important to me than Religion. As much as I know how and can, I recommend it to you as a good brother and as your missionary brother. For the blind young people of our day, religion is not normally very much in fashion, nor, especially, is frequenting the sacraments. Oh, how many times have I been afflicted with this somber thought: although I keep saying that I employ all the means which my weakness allows to instruct, direct and save souls in every way, may it never be true that the soul of one of my family should perish! This thought has horrified me. For this reason I pray daily to God at holy mass for everyone individually. But my love for you makes me fear that, in an age as perverse as this, one of today’s terrible maxims might attack and ruin you. Dear Vincenzo, everything ends, and does so quickly. Eternity never ends, and begins when we least expect it.

Consider this advice as brotherly love. It does not come from a bad impression of you, since I rejoice at believing well of you and of everyone. If you postpone your arrival in Rome to a better time, I will give you a book about religion that I want to have printed5. It will certainly please you, since, besides being instructive, you will find it curious, pleasant and delightful. The whole forms a general antidote to the many poisonous booklets which have been spread about, and are still being spread to give illusions to the ignorant, to the negligent and the dissolute.

You want a response at least by the tenth or twelfth of this August, and I believe that you will have it.

The school bell is ringing now, and it obliges me to stop. Believe me that with all my heart I call myself

Your most affectionate brother


unworthy priest of the Congregation of the Mission.

P.S. Regards to Father [Filippo] Giriodi also from Father [Simone] Ugo6.

Addressed: To Mr. Vincenzo De Andreis, Coni [Cuneo] for Demonte. Postmark: 116, Rome.

  1. Letter 2. Autograph letter, Italian, four pages with address, in provincial archives, Turin, De Andreis papers; copy in the archives of the General Curia, Rome; De Andreis collection, Volume XVI. Cited in Ricciardelli, Vita, 4849, 105. Vincenzo was the half-brother of Felix, as he mentions in his Itinerary. From Vincenzo descended a numerous family.
  2. The reason for his departure was a decree from the Napoleonic government demanding the removal of foreigners to their native countries. Since De Andreis was a Piedmontese, he had to leave. He put off his departure since he was teaching the foreign students of Propaganda Fide, such as the Chaldean from Nineveh mentioned below, who otherwise would have had no place to live. (Rosati, “Life,” Summarium, 49.)
  3. This student is identified as Isaias di Giacobbe (using the Italian form of his name), who entered Monte Citorio in 1805 and left, after ordination, 29 May 1815. “He behaved himself very well in all things. Always humble, meek, obedient, devout, and a young man of the highest expectations, who made great progress in studies, especially in theology” (“Catalogus in quo praeter Convictorum nomina, eorum etiam qualitates adnotantur,” Register of Students at Monte Citorio, 1720-1870, Archives of the Roman Province, 3.5.11, 35.)
  4. Filippo Giriodi was born in Demonte, 26 August 1781. Following De Andreis by a similar path, he entered the Congregation of the Mission in Mondovi, 29 September 1797, but left because of the government decree, 8 February 1799. He re-entered 9 December 1799, and moved from Turin, 21 December 1799, to study philosophy in Piacenza. After his ordination, he returned to Piacenza in November 1815 to teach theology, where he became the superior there, 13 February 1824. He died in Piacenza, 28 November 1842. (See a biographical notice in Annales de la Congregation de la Mission 110-111 [1945-1946]: 382-83.)
  5. This book, by Henri Marie Dudon, was Dio solo, ovvero la sacra lega pmposta agli amanti di Dio da farsi in *ore degl’interessi di quest’Essere Supremo (Rome, 1667; another printing, 1807). The introduction to this Italian translation had caused it to be placed on the Index of Forbidden Books in 1688. De Andreies involvement in publishing the 1807 edition, whether he translated it from the original or not, is unclear. He had profited spiritually from the book while he was a novice (Ricciardeffi, 10). It caused some hesitation as to his orthodoxy at the time of his selection for the American mission. His translation of Dio Solo is found in the archives of the Roman Province, manuscript 14.115, but no printed copy seems to exist
  6. Simone Ugo, born 1780, succeeded Francesco Antonio Baccari as Visitor of the province of Rome.

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