Letter from Giuseppe Maria Da Bologna, Francesco Gatta and Vincenzo Da Frascati to Jean Le Vacher, 1678-05-03, Tunis


Letter from Giuseppe Maria Da Bologna, Francesco Gatta and Vincenzo Da Frascati to Jean Le Vacher, 1678-05-03, Tunis


Other religious orders
Slave priests
Slaves (Christian)


Letter Giuseppe Maria Da Bologna, Francesco Gatta and Vincenzo Da Frascati to Jean Le Vacher. Three days ago they received a letter from Jean Le Vacher, in which he asked them to inform him about the scandals that have been taking place in the church of Tunis. They had previously informed him of the problems, and had followed Le Vacher's instructions, by trying to alter the habits of some slave priests. The most troublesome of them is Antonio Calendino, who claimed to be a priest but had no papers to back this up. He himself told the missionaries that he had been in prison for four years in Naples, after being condemned for murder. The missionaries wrote to the archbishop for more information about Calendino, but they never received an answer. They allowed him to administer the sacraments, as they were afraid that if they did not allow this, Calendino would expel the missionaries from the mission with help from his patron Ali Bei. The problems with him grew worse, as his patron (who has good ties with the ruling house) used him as jester, singing and playing the guitar, whilst receiving women in his house. He was walking around the bagnos causing problems and disturbing the mass. They could not do anything against him because they did not want to be forced to leave, which would have resulted in the misson being abandoned. Eventually he was ransomed after committing more scandalous acts, and sent on a boat to Livorno. After his departure, other Christians told the missionaries admitted truths about Calendino, that are so scandalous that they cannot be possibly true; however they will leave them for what they are. The second scandal was on 17 October 1679 when Diego d'Avalos (a Mecedarian priest from Cagliari also known as Padre Diego), was called by a woman and entered her house. When the husband returned he tried to kill Diego with a pistol, but the priest escaped; the two met again and this time the husband shot Diego. Three or four hours later after having confessed, he died. Another priest was wounded in the hand during the altercation, for which mass had to be suspended for a month. As he wanted to better his live, the mass was eventually returned to him, and now he is living quietly and devoutly. The third scandal was when a Minim pirest Felice Da Marta, was playing cards. He did this so often that he neglected his priestly duties. Sometimes he was playing from the evening till morning, and many Christians complained about this. Felice was lucky and won 80 pezze da otto from Giuseppe Calibrò, a Sicilian slave of the Pasha. But later Felice was forced to pay the slave the money back. Because the priest was not the slave of an influential person it was easy to aprehend him, and to forbid him to ever play cards again; from that moment on, he did not play anymore. The fourth scandal involved another priest, Carlo Vella Maltese Zocerlante, who was already ransomed but had not yet returned home. One day he was playing carts with a Greek, Constanino, who had also been ransomed. They had a fight about the game and blood was spilled. The Greek went to the missionaries to complain. The Greek was imprisoned by the Bey, who the next day called on the cities priests (both missionaries and slaves), and asked them if it was legal for a priest to play cards. The response given to the Bey, is that it is not legal, and even strongly prohibited. The Bey handed over the priest so that he could be punished. Whilst the Greek was enslaved again, they chained the priest inside his Bagno. They were warned however that the Greeks were trying to enforce the Bey to enslave Carlo again, hence why they put him on an English ship travelling to Livorno. Whilst these are the most imported things that happened, they are not completely sure about the exact dates, and the precise circumstances. They ask Le Vacher to not send any more slave priests to them, unless they are found to be exceptionally useful.
Date discussed: 1682-09-30
Additional comments
Judging by a later letter from Jean Le Vacher, this letter was originally sent to Jean Le Vacher, who then sent it (together with his own letter) to PF. See APF SOCG 498, f. 178r-179r (database item 807).


Giuseppe Maria Da Bologna
Francesco Gatta, Vincenzo Da Frascati


APF SOCG 498, 177r-v, 180r




Adressed to Jean Le Vacher


For the minutes of the PF meeting where this matter was discussed, see: APF ACTA 51, 279r (not yet in this database).


Original: signed








Origin: Tunis
Destination: Algiers


Giuseppe Maria Da Bologna and Francesco Gatta, Vincenzo Da Frascati, “Letter from Giuseppe Maria Da Bologna, Francesco Gatta and Vincenzo Da Frascati to Jean Le Vacher, 1678-05-03, Tunis,” Early Modern Documents: Sources and Resources for Historical Research, accessed October 31, 2020, https://earlymoderndocs.omeka.net/items/show/13134.

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