Waldensian Review No 132 Summer 2018 - Page 5

Phoebe was successfully shown in many places in England by our Com- mittee in 1927, but returning back to Italy pastor Bosio risked going to prison. Another copy was sent to the US with great caution. Its beginning and end- ing were changed, it passed through different hands, underwent brutal cuts and the reels were at various times lost and found. Eventually it disappeared until it was ‘found’ at the bottom of a cupboard of the American Waldensian Society in 1981. Faithful for Centuries/Phoebe was eventually shown in 1982 in the Church of Torre Pellice, so crammed that one could hardly breathe. The footage of the contemporary congregations had all been cut and lost, apart from a few, and Riesi was one of them. My father was delighted at seeing his mother and aunts (all teachers in the Waldensian schools) and dozens and dozens of Sunday School children hap- pily singing away. At the time of the shooting of the film, the pastor of Riesi was Arturo Mingardi. As a young ex-Modernist priest, in tur- moil one Sunday evening he had walked past the beautiful church in piazza Cavour in Rome that in those days was opened for ‘Services of Evangelisation’. The great mu- sic and the persuasive words captivated him and he went in. He was warmly wel- comed … so much so that he decided to attend the church, becoming a Waldensian and eventually studying Theology at the Faculty round the corner. Once ordained, he asked to be sent where nobody wanted Chiesa Valdese (by Bonci & Rudelli, to go. He chose Riesi, which had a flour- 1914), Piazza Cavour, Rome. ishing and enthusiastic congregation, but where the living conditions had cost vari- ous ministers, particularly their families, their health and even their lives. Malaria, cholera, smallpox and other diseases now associated with developing countries were more or less routine. Riesi was a poor town of miners and peasants with a small, but active, middle class of Liber- als and Free Masons. Since Garibaldi’s landing in Sicily, Waldensian preachers and distributors of Bibles and Protestant literature had visited most parts of the island, which was superstitious and more pagan than Christian. In Riesi, though, it Pastor Mingardi with Sunday was the Liberal Mayor who, annoyed with School children. 3