Translation of petition with five testimonies, 10-06-1679, Rome


Translation of petition with five testimonies, 10-06-1679, Rome


Slaves (Christian)
Slave priests


Petition with five testimonies. Bartolomeo Serrano [Bartolomeo Da Serrano] and Matteo Losana, are both discalced Trinitarians working in the Trinitarian hospitals in Algiers, who now claim their rights. Pope Clement VIII gave a papal bull to the Trinitarians (this was later confirmed by other popes), in which they were given various privileges, exemptions and liberties; they now ask for these privileges to be confirmed, and also for new privileges. First however, it is necessary to give information about the ongoing problems with a French priest, who calls himself vicar of Carthage [Jean Le Vacher]. Le Vacher impeded in various ways their assistance in the divine worship of the Spanish Catholics. He gave order that instead of peace, there would be unrest, giving hardship to all the Christians that could not celebrate the divine worship. They asked for testimonials to describe what actions Jean Le Vacher had committed, and how the two priests of the hospitals behaved in response. The case has been refered to Cardinal Massimi, a patron of the order, and he requested Pietro d'Aragona (in a letter dated 20 February 1677) to collect more information on the case; this was done by talking to former slaves who are currently staying at the court of Madrid, from both a religious and secular backgrounds. Their testimonies were shown to PF and to others to whom it might be necessary; this happened on 25 May 1677. The notary received in Madrid on 31 May 1677, a petition on behalf of Francesco Garcia from la Terra di Tineo in Asturië. He is the cook of the count of Umanes and is staying at his court. He left the court together with Lorenzo Santos Di San Pietro (councilor  of the king of Castile), who went to the Canary islands as a judge and a visitor. Around 10 years ago, whilst they were returning to Spain, they were taken as slaves by Moorish Corsairs from Algiers. They stayed there for six years, and he worked in the hospital of San Giuseppe in Algiers, where he met Da Sarrano. He states that he always saw Sarrano working hard at the hospital. He also saw a French priest, who he thought was named Giovanni di Bachel [Jean Le Vacher] bothering Da Serrano, as he was frustrated with his religious work at the hospital. Le Vacher told the authorities that Da Serrano wanted to create an uprising, for which he was imprisoned. While Da Serrano was in prison for 13 days, Le Vacher took all the crosses, and the symbol of the Trinitarians, from the hospital. He also saw how Le Vacher forbade the slave priests to go to mass, and administer the sacraments for the sick Christian slaves without his license. He also forbade them to go to the feast of the patron saints of the hospitals, by sending Turks who said that they were sent by the French. He also forbade the administration of the sacraments, and took the eucharist from the hospital to his house. He did this so that everyone would need to go to his house. Le Vacher also wanted to keep the sick heretics and Lutherans in the same room as the Catholics. The second witness is Gio' Maria Sana [Giovanni Maria Sana] from Cagliari in Sardinia, but he is currently living at the court of Madrid. Around eight years ago this witness wanted to go from Sardinia to Napels, but was made slave by Moors from Algiers. They brought him to the city, where he was a slave for almost eight years. Last year in 1676, he was freed by Discalced Augustinians. Because he was sick, he stayed in the hospital of San Giuseppe, where he met Da Serrano. The witness saw how Da Serrano worked in the hospital, but was frustrated by a French priest who called himself vicar apostolic; in the petition he states that he does not remember the name of the French priest, but it is obviously Jean Le Vacher. He saw how Le Vacher gave orders to remove the coat of arms of the Trinitarians. He said he did this to replace them with San Louis, and other saints of his devotion. In order to do this, he had Da Serrano imprisoned by the Turks under the false pretense of wanting to cause an uprising. He forbade the slave priests from administering the sacraments in the hospitals, and allowed their masters to order these slave priests to work in the gardens. He forbade them to keep the sacrario in the chapels of the hospital, so that they had to go to the house of Le Vacher. Once, Le Vacher sent Turks to the feast of San Giuseppe to end the celebration. He also wanted to keep heretics and Lutherans in the same rooms as Catholics. The third witness is Giovanni Maria di Castello from Baiona in Galicia. In the year 1675 he was taken slave while returning from the Indies on the ship of Don Antonio Di Lima. He was brought to Algiers, where he remained a slave for 10 years and nine days. He knew Bartolomeo Da Serrano as well as Jean Le Vacher. He saw that on 25 November when Da Serrano was giving the general absolution, Le Vacher forbade him to do so, and told him that only he could do this. On another occassion, on the feast of San Giuseppe during the Holy sacrament, Le Vacher entered the chapel and said that he could not proceed. Da Serrano responded that they had always celebrated this way and that he (as a patron of the Hospitals and Chapels), did not have to answer to anyone else. Le Vacher angered by this, went to the Mohammedan Tribunal, and had the Turks and Moors stop the festivities. He also forced the Trinitarians to remove a painting of their order, and had it replaced with a painting of Saint Louis of France. After Da Serrano forbade this, Le Vacher went again to the Tribunal, and told the Turks and Moors that Da Serrano placed crosses in their country, and that he wanted to start a rebellion. All the crosses were consequently removed from the hospitals, and Da Serrano was thrown in prison were he stayed for 13 days. Le Vacher forbade anyone to administer the sacraments to the sick in the hospital, and to ensure that they would listen, he allowed their masters to have them work in the gardens. Together with the French consul, he tried to buy the hospital of San Giuseppe to turn it into a house for French merchants. They offered the Turks 800 pezzi to buy it, and whilst at first the Turks accepted, they later wanted to keep it for themselves. The Holy sacrament, that used to be kept in the hospital of San Giuseppe, was brought to the house of Le Vacher, a place full of Moors, Jews and Lutherans. Le Vacher also forced Da Serrano to accept a Lutheran among the Catholics. According to Da Serrano this was not possible, because it was against the rules of the order, and because one shouldn't place wolves among the angels; its noted that on one occassion whilst giving the Holy sacrament to a Catholic, a Lutheran nearby started to laugh. The fourth testimony is Gio' Garcia di Acevo, who is from the the archbishopric of Burgos in Saunus, and is currently staying at the court of Madrid. He has been in Algiers for 10 years, after he was taken as slave whilst travelling from Gilbraltar, with the provision for the soldiers of the king. In Algiers he met Jean Le Vacher, and when he went to the hospital of San Giuseppe, he also met Bartolomeo Serrano. Le Vacher was very close with the Turks and with their help, he had the crosses removed from the hospital of San Giuseppe, and also a painting of the mystery of the Trinity which was replaced with a painting of King Loius of France. Da Serrano was imprisoned for 13 or 14 days under the false accusation of wanting to cause a rebellion. Le Vacher forbade the priests to administer the Holy sacraments in the hospitals, forcing them to go to his house or the oratory. To make sure that they would obey, he had their masters make them work in the gardens. Le Vacher also tried to buy the hospital of San Giuseppe from the Turks. He tried to place infidels and sectarians in the same hospital rooms as the Catholics; usually the infidels were kept apart, in order for them to be converted more easily. Jo Giovanni Di Cabredo, the apostolic notary and archivist of the audience and tribunal of the nunciary in Spain, signs this in Madrid on 5 June 1677. The notaries Antonio Del Sola, Pietro Bermejo and Francesco Gutierrez do the same. Claudius Franciscus Louvet translated this from Spanish to Italian in Rome, on 10 June 1679 with his own hand.
Date discussed: 1679-09-11
Additional comments


Giovanni Di Cabredo
Claudio Francesco Louvet


APF SOCG 475, 101r-111v




[Adressed to PF]


For the minutes of the PF meeting where this matter was discussed, see: APF ACTA 49, 205r, 214r-218v, issue 18 (database item 681).
See for the Spanish original: APF SOCG 475, 113r-114v, 117r-118v (database item 801).


Contemporary translation








Origin: Rome
Destination: [Rome]


Giovanni Di Cabredo and Claudio Francesco Louvet, “Translation of petition with five testimonies, 10-06-1679, Rome,” Early Modern Documents: Sources and Resources for Historical Research, accessed January 23, 2022,

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