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The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1562), excerpt

(Cellini was a celebrated Italian sculptor and goldsmith from Florence.)

I was carried down below the garden into a very dark, dank room full of tarantulas and noxious worms. They threw a miserable hemp mattress on the ground, and that evening I was left without food, locked in behind four doors. I stayed like that till five hours before nightfall the next day. Only then was I brought something to eat. I asked them to let me have some of my books to read. None of them replied, but they reported what I had said to that wretched castellan who had asked them to tell him. The next morning I was given my Italian Bible and another book containing Giovanni Villani's Chronicles. I asked for some of my other books, but they told me I couldn't have any more and had too many as it was. So I passed the time very miserably, on that damp scrap of mattress, which within three days was wringing wet. I was completely unable to move because of my broken leg; and when I wanted to get out of bed, because of the demands of nature, I had to go on hands and knees, suffering terrible agonies to avoid fouling the spot I slept on.

For an hour and a half every day I got a faint gleam of light filtering into my squalid cell through a tiny chink. Just for that short space of time I could read, otherwise, night and day, I waited patiently in the darkness, thinking all the time of God and of our human weakness. I was convinced that before many days passed, in these conditions and in that place, my unhappy life would come to an end. However I consoled myself as best I could, reflecting how much more painful it have been to have died under the terrible agony of the executioner's knife; but as it was I was meeting death half-drugged with sleep which was a much more agreeable way to end. Little by little I felt strength ebbing, till my strong constitution had become used to the purgatory I was suffering. Then, when this happened and I was inured to it all, I resolved to bear my tremendous suffering as long as my strength held out.

I began the Bible from the beginning, devoutly reading and meditating on it. I was so fascinated that if it had been possible I would have spent all my time reading it. But, as the light failed, all my sufferings immediately flooded back, and I was so tortured that more than once I made up my mind to put out my life with my hand. They had left me without a knife, however, and so I had no easy means of doing such a thing. All the same on one occasion I took a solid wooden beam that was lying there and propped it up in such a way that it would fall like a trap. I wanted to make it crash down on my head, which would have been smashed at the first blow. But when I had set up the whole contraption, and was resolutely preparing to knock it down, as I went to put my hand to it I was seized by an invisible hand and hurled a distance of about four cubits.

I was so terrified that I remained there in a dead faint: and I stayed like that from dawn till five hours before nightfall, when they brought in my dinner. They must have come in several times without my noticing them, because, when I did notice them, I heard Captain Sandrino Monaldi say:

'Oh, the unhappy man - he was such a unique genius, and look at the end he came to!'

I opened my eyes when I heard this and saw standing there some priests in their cassocks, who cried out:

'Oh, you said he was dead!' 

Bozza said: 'I found him dead, that's why I said so.'

Without delay they lifted me up, took hold of the mattress, which was as soggy as a plate of macaroni, and threw it out of the room: when they told the castellan about it he had me given another one.

On reflecting as to what it was that frustrated my attempt I decided that it must have been a divine power, my guardian angel.

The following night a wonderful vision in the form of a beautiful young man appeared to me in a dream and started rebuking me.

'Do you know who it was who lent you that body that you were ready to wreck before the appointed time?' he said.

I seemed to answer that I recognized everything as having come from the God of nature.

So then,' he replied, 'you despise His works, and you want to destroy them? Leave Him to guide you, and do not abandon hope in His saving power.'

And he added a great deal else, in very impressive words, of which I don't remember the thousandth part. I began to be convinced that this angelic being had spoken the truth; and then, glancing round my cell, I caught sight of some pieces of musty brick. So rubbing one piece against another I managed to make a little paste. Then, still crawling on my hands and knees, I went up to the cell door and gnawed at the edge with my teeth till I had bitten off a small splinter. After that was done, I settled down to wait for the time when some light would creep into the prison; it first came in three and a half hours before sunset, and lasted an hour. Then I started to write as best I could on some superfluous pages in my Bible, and I rebuked the powers of my intellect for being impatient with life: they replied to my body, excusing themselves on account of their sufferings: and then my body held out the hope of better things. All this I wrote in dialogue, as follows:

'Powers of my soul, in torment,

How cruel it is of you to hate this life!’

'If you against Heaven are bent,

Who then will succour us in this our strife?’

‘Let us depart, to seek a better life.'

‘Wait, be not so swift to go:

Heaven promises you will

Be yet more happy than you were before.'

'A short while we'll stay below,

If our great God intends to grant us still

The grace that we shall never suffer more.' 


My strength came back to me, and after I had calmed myself by my own efforts I carried on reading my Bible: and my eyes grew used to

the darkness, so that whereas before I could read for an hour and a half I could now read for three whole hours. I began to meditate with extreme

wonder on the greatness of God's power over those simple men who believed so fervently that God would grant them all they hankered after. I assured myself that God would help me too, because of His divine mercy as well as because of my own innocence. I remained continually in communion with God, sometimes praying and sometimes deep in meditation; my delight in meditating on God in this way began to grow so intense that I forgot all my past sufferings, and all day long I sang psalms and compositions of my own, all addressed to Him.

There was one thing, however, that made me suffer terribly: what had happened was that my nails had grown so long that I could not touch myself without their wounding me. I was unable to dress without their turning inwards or outwards and causing me great torment. At the same time my teeth began to decay. I became conscious of this when the dead teeth started being pushed out by those teeth that were still living; little by little they pierced my gums, and the end of the roots started breaking through their sockets. When I realized what was happening I pulled them out, just as if I was drawing a sword from its scabbard, without any pain or bleeding. I lost a great many in this way. However, I reconciled myself to these new afflictions; and I carried on, sometimes singing, sometimes praying, and sometimes writing with that brick paste I mentioned. I began to write a poem in praise of the prison, and in it I gave an account of the things that had happened to me there. I shall write it down here in its appropriate place.

The good castellan often used to send secretly to find out what I was up to. As it happened, on the last day in July I was full of great rejoicing, thinking to myself that it was the occasion of the great festival that is usually celebrated in Rome on the first day of August; and I was saying to myself:

‘All these years past I've kept this happy feast with worldly trivialities, but this year I shall observe it by pondering on the divine things of God.'

Then I added: 'Oh, how much happier I am now than I was then!'

I was overheard saying this, and they reported my words to the castellan. In astonished fury, he said:

'Oh, God! there he is thriving on misfortune; and while he triumphs I am suffering in the middle of so much comfort. And all by himself he's bringing me to the grave. Go quickly and thrust him into the lowest dungeon - the one where the preacher Foiano was starved to death. Perhaps when he sees how wretched he is his cheerfulness will be knocked out of him.'

Straight away Captain Sandrino Monaldi came along to my cell, followed by about twenty of the castellan's servants. They found me on my knees; and when they came in, without turning round I carried on with my prayers. I was adoring a figure of God the Father, surrounded by angels, and one of the risen Christ in His triumph, that I had drawn on the wall with a little piece of charcoal I had unearthed. It was then four months that I had been on my back, lying in bed with a broken leg. I had dreamed so many times that the angels came to heal me that after those four months my leg was as sound as if it had never been broken.

They came in, so cluttered up with weapons that one would have thought I was a fiery dragon. The captain said:

'You know how many there are of us, and we made enough noise coming in, yet you don't turn round.'

At these words I was well aware of the terrible harm they could inflict on me, but since I was steeled to misfortune I replied:

"To this God who bears me up, to Him in heaven, I have turned my soul, and heart, and the power of my intellect: and I've turned to you exactly what belongs to you. You're not worthy to look on what is good in me and you cannot touch it; so do to what belongs to you all in your power.'

The captain, who was frightened seeing that he had no idea what I meant to do, turned to four of his most stalwart guards and said: ‘Lay aside your arms.’

When they had done this, he added:

'Now - on him quickly and hold him down. There are enough of us not to be frightened even if he were the devil himself. Hold him fast so that he doesn't escape.'

They seized me and started handling me roughly; and then, expecting much worse than in fact happened, I lifted my eyes to Christ and said:

'O just God, You have redeemed all our sins on Your high Cross: why then does my innocence have to pay the debts of someone I do not know? But may Your will be done.'

Meanwhile they bore me away by the light of a great burning torch. I thought they intended to throw me into what is called the Sammaló pit, a fearful place which has swallowed up a great many living men who have been hurtled down into a well in the foundations of the castle. But I was spared this; and so I reckoned I had made a good bargain when they threw me into the foul dungeon I mentioned above, where Foiano had died of hunger, and left me there without doing me any more harm.

When they had gone I began to sing the De profundis clamavi, a Miserere, and the In te domine speravi. I kept the feast of that first day of August with God, and the whole day my heart was bursting with faith and hope. The second day they moved me from that hole, taking me back to the cell where I had made those first sketches of the image of God. When I arrived there and found myself back with my drawings my eyes flooded with tears of delight and happiness. After that the castellan wanted to know day by day everything I said or did.

The Pope, who knew all the circumstances (the doctors, by the way, had already said there was no hope for the castellan) remarked:

'Before my castellan dies I want him to put Benvenuto to death in whatever way he lies, so that he doesn't die without having his revenge on the man who killed him.' When Pier Luigi himself reported these words to the castellan, he said:

‘So the Pope gives Benvenuto to me and wants me to take my revenge? Forget the matter and leave it to me.’

So if the Pope was choked with bitterness towards me, it seemed at first as if the castellan hated me with even more malice. At this juncture that invisible spirit which had prevented me when I intended to kill myself came to me, still invisible but speaking distinctly, shook me and lifted me to my feet, and said:

'Benvenuto, hurry now, hurry: turn to God and say your prayers, shout them out as loud as you can.'

At once I fell on my knees in terror and repeated many of my prayers in a loud voice. Then I said a Qui habitat in adjutorio; and then I conversed with God for a while. In an instant, the same voice as before said distinctly and clearly:

'Go and rest now, and don't be afraid any more.'

And what had happened was this: the castellan, having given brutal orders for my death, suddenly rescinded them, and said:

'Isn't he the same Benvenuto that I defended so eagerly and that I know for certain is innocent and has been wrongfully punished? Oh, how will God ever have mercy on me and my sins if I don't forgive those who have done me great harm? Do I have to injure a worthy, innocent man, who has served and honoured me? There! instead of bringing him death, I bring him life and liberty; and I leave it in my testament that no one is to ask him for any of the great sum he would have to pay for his expenses here.'

The Pope heard what had happened and he was furious. Meanwhile I carried on with my usual prayers and with writing my poem. I started experiencing the happiest, most delightful dreams imaginable, every night: and it seemed that all the time I had near me that invisible being I had so often heard, and still heard. I asked him for no other favour except that he would take me where I could see the sun. I said earnestly that this was the only desire I had, and that if I could only once set eyes on the sun then I would die happy. All the torments I had suffered in that prison, all of them had become dear and pleasing to me, and I was no longer troubled by them. But the hangerson of the castellan, who had been waiting for him to do what he had said he would and hang me from the battlement I had climbed down from, couldn't tolerate it when they saw that he had completely changed his mind, and they kept trying by various means to frighten the life out of me.

However, as I said, I was so used to all those things that I was no longer frightened of anything: all I wanted was to have a dream in which I might see the sphere of the sun. So I carried on with my great prayers, directing them fervently towards Christ, and I never left off saying:

'O true Son of God! I implore You by Your birth, by Your death on the Cross, and Your glorious resurrection, make me worthy to see the sun, even if only in a dream. But if You deign to let me see it, with these mortal eyes, then I promise to come and visit You in Your holy Sepulchre.

These great prayers to God and this vow I made on the second of October, in the year 1539. Next morning, the third of October, I woke on the edge of daybreak about an hour before the sun was up; 

'The sun - the sun that I have so much desired! I never want to see anything else again, even if your rays blind me.'

I remained with my eyes intent on him; and after I had been there for a short while all of a sudden I saw the force of those tremendous rays cast itself on to the left side of the sun; the sun remained clear without his rays, and I stared at him with great contentment, astonished at the way the rays had been taken away. I began to ponder on the divine grace that had been granted me that morning by God: I cried out: 'What splendid power! What glorious virtue ! How much greater is the privilege You have granted me than what I expected!’

Without his rays the sun appeared just like a bath of the purest liquid gold. While I stood there contemplating this great vision the middle of the sun began to swell out and the bulge increased till, in an instant, it took the form of Christ on the Cross, made out of the very stuff of the sun: He was of such entrancing beauty and so gracious in His appearance that human imagination cannot reach to a thousandth part of what I saw.

As I contemplated this I cried aloud: ‘A miracle! A miracle! O God, O merciful God! O infinite power! What marvels You have permitted me to behold this day!'

While I was staring and saying these words the figure of Christ moved towards that part of the sun where the rays had gone; the middle of the sun swelled up again, as it had done before, and as the swelling grew larger it suddenly took the shape of a most beautiful Madonna, seated on high with her Son in her arms, full of grace and appearing to smile. On either side were two angels of such great beauty that it is beyond imagining. I also saw, on the right hand of the sun, a man robed like a priest; he turned his back to me and kept his face looking towards the Madonna and Christ. All these things I saw, truly, clearly, and vividly; and all the time, in a loud voice, praised the glory of God in my thankfulness. This wonderful vision remained before my eyes for just over an eighth of an hour, and then it departed. I was carried back to my wretched pit.

At once I began to shout out aloud:

'God in His greatness has made me worthy to set eyes on His glory; on things perhaps never seen before by mortal eyes. So this proves my freedom, and my happiness, and my favour with God: while you, you villains, you shall always be villains, unhappy and in disgrace with God. Listen to this: I know for certain that on All Saints' Day - the very

day that I was born into the world in the year 1500, the first day in November, four hours after nightfall - on that day coming you'll he forced to lead me from this gloomy cell; and you'll not be able to do otherwise, because I've seen it with my own eyes on the very throne of God. That priest who was turned towards God and who had his back to me, that was St Peter, and he was pleading for me, ashamed that such brutal injustices should be done to Christians in his house. Tell anyone you like – no one has the power to do me further harm: and tell that lord who is keeping me here that if he gives me either some wax or paper, and the means to express the glory of God that I have seen, I shall make only too clear what he may now be doubtful of.’

Although his doctors believed there wasn't a scrap of hope, the castellan remained with a sound mind, and the mad fantasies that used to trouble him every year had left him. His only concern now was over the state of his soul; his conscience was gnawing at him, and he was convinced that I had suffered and was suffering a great injustice. He sent the Pope information about the wonderful things I spoke of, and the Pope - like a man who believed in nothing, neither in God nor in anything else – sent back word that I must be mad, and that he was to do all he could to cure himself. When the castellan received this reply he sent to comfort me, and had me given writing materials, some wax and some little instruments for working on wax. His kind message was brought by one of his servants who was fond of me. This man was quite the opposite to that collection of villains who would have liked to see me dead.

I took the paper and wax and set to work: and while I was at it I wrote this sonnet, dedicated to the castellan.

If I, my lord, could only prove to you

That light eternal God Himself has shown

To me, in this base world, why then you'd own

That to my princely words all credit's due.

And if the Pastor of Christ's Church but knew

The vision of God's glory I have seen -

These wonders, never shown to anyone

Before the dark world's griefs are lost to view -

Then would the holy doors of justice move,

And impious Fury bound in chains would fall.

Shrieking to Heaven at her bitter loss.

If only I had light! My art would prove

An image of divinity, and then would fall

Away the heavy burden of my cross.

Next day when the castellan's servant - the one who was fond of me - came in with my food, I gave him this sonnet written out: without telling those other vicious servants, who hated me, he handed it to the castellan. The castellan would have been only too glad to set me free, since he believed that the great wrong that had been done me was the chief cause of his own death. He took the sonnet, read it through more than once, and then said:

'These are neither the words nor the ideas of a madman: rather, it's the work of a good, worthy man.'

Straight away he ordered his secretary to take it to the Pope, to deliver it into the Pope's own hands, and to beg him for my release. While his secretary was carrying the sonnet to the Pope, the castellan sent me lights, both for day and night, and also provided me with every comfort the place needed. As a result my general health, which had been at a very low ebb, began to improve.

The Pope read the sonnet several times; then he sent word to the castellan that he would very soon be doing something that would please him. And the Pope would certainly have let me go; but Signor Pier Luigi, his son, kept me there by force, almost against his father's wishes. The death of the castellan was drawing near: and in the meantime I had been drawing and modelling a representation of that marvellous miracle. On the morning of All Saints' Day he sent his nephew, Pier Ugolini, to show me some jewels. Immediately I saw them I cried:

“This is the pledge of my liberation.' At this the young man, who was rather dull-witted, said: Never rely on that, Benvenuto.'

I replied: 'Take your jewels away. I'm so badly treated here that the only light I see is what's in this gloomy hole, and it's not good enough for me to make out the quality of the jewels. But as for my leaving this prison, before the day is over you'll be coming to release me: this must be so and you can do nothing to stop it.'

Then he left leaving me locked in again. He was away for more than two whole hours. And then he came back without an armed escort, but with two boys who were to give me a helping hand. I was led into the large apartment I had had before (that is, in 1538), and I was given every comfort I desired.

A few days later the castellan, who was under the impression that I had been set free, stricken down by his terrible illness departed this life. His place was taken by his brother, Antonio Ugolini, who had given the dead castellan to understand that I had been released.

As far as I could make out this Antonio had been ordered by the Pope to let me stay confined in my spacious rooms until he told him what to do with me. Meanwhile, Durante of Brescia, whom I've already mentioned, plotted with that soldier - the one who had been a chemist in Prato - to mix with my food some substance of a poisonous nature, with a deadly but not instant effect: it was to take effect at the end of four or five months. They were planning together to put some powdered diamond into my food. This, although not at all poisonous itself, is so incredibly hard that when pounded it still retains its sharp edges. The diamond isn't like other stones, which lose their sharp edges and become almost rounded, for it keeps its sharpness even when powdered. As a result of this, when it enters the stomach along with one's food, in the process of digestion the diamond becomes embedded in the lining of the stomach and in the bowels. Then, little by little, as fresh food comes in and presses it forward, before very long the diamond pierces one's inside; and the result is death. On the other hand, if any other kind of stone or glass is mixed up with one's food it hasn't the power to adhere, and so it passes out with the food.

Now, this Durante I mentioned gave one of the guards a diamond of some small value. It was said that a great enemy of mine, a certain goldsmith of Arezzo called Lione, was entrusted with the job of pounding it. However, since he was very poor and the diamond must have been worth a few dozen crowns, he gave the guard something which he pretended was the powdered diamond to be administered to me. That morning I ate the powder, mixed with all my food - it was a Friday. I had it in the salad, in the ragout, and in the soup.

I ate with great gusto, since I had been fasting the evening before. The Friday was a feast day. As a matter of fact I did feel the food scrunching between my teeth, but no suspicion of such devilry entered my mind. After I had finished there was a little salad still left on the plate, and then I caught sight of some fine splinters that remained with it. Straight away I went over with them to the window, where the light was very strong, remembering while I was looking at them that the food had scrunched more than usual that morning. After a careful inspection I became convinced that as far as I could judge it was powdered diamond.

I at once gave myself up for dead and with a heavy heart took devout refuge in prayer. Having made up my mind that I was doomed, for a whole hour I poured out prayers to God, thanking Him for such a pleasant death. Since my stars had willed that it should be so, I reckoned I had made a good bargain in quitting this life so easily. I was quite content to bless the world and the years I had spent in it. Now I was returning to a better kingdom, secure in my knowledge of the grace of God. With these thoughts passing through my head I was holding in my hand some very fine grains from what I was certain was a diamond. But, since it never dies away, I let myself be tempted to indulge in a little vain hope. As a result I took hold of some small knife and tipped a few of the grains on to one of the prison bars. Then I touched them lightly with the point of the knife, pressed down hard, and felt the stone crumble. Peering closer I saw that it had in fact done so. At once hope flooded back, and I said to myself:

"This isn't Durante's durable stone, it's a poor, cheap stone which won't do me the slightest harm.'

So, although I had reconciled myself to remaining quiet and dying in peace, I began to make fresh plans. But first I thanked God and that blessed state of poverty, which although very often causing death this time was the real cause of my remaining alive. Since my enemy, Durante - or whoever it was - had given Lione a diamond, worth more than a hundred crowns, and told him to pound it for me, his poverty had persuaded him to take it for himself, and instead he ground up a greenish beryl worth only a couple of carlins. He probably thought that, seeing it was a stone, it would have the same effect as the diamond.

At that time the Bishop of Pavia - brother of the Count of San Secondo - called Monsignor de' Rossi of Parma, was imprisoned in the castle because of some disturbances that had happened in Pavia. As the Bishop was a great friend of mine I thrust my head through the hole in my cell and called to him in a loud voice that in order to murder me those criminals had given me a powdered diamond. At the same time through one of his servants I sent him some of the powder that was left, but I didn't tell him I had discovered that it wasn't a diamond. Instead I told him that they had certainly poisoned me, after the death of that admirable castellan; and for the little time I had left alive I begged him to let me have one of his loaves every day, since I wasn't anxious to eat anything that came from them. So he promised to send me some of his own food. That Messer Antonio, who had certainly known nothing of the plot, made a great stir about it and asked to see the powdered stone, which he too believed to be a diamond. Then, judging that the Pope must be behind it all, after he had thought the matter over he shrugged it off.

I restricted what I ate to the food sent me by the Bishop and I carried on writing that poem of mine on the prison, setting down every day all the new things that happened to me, detail by detail. Antonio also used to send along some food which was brought me by Giovanni, that Prato chemist whom I mentioned before, who was then a soldier in the castle. This man was very hostile towards me, and it was he who had brought me the powdered diamond; so I told him that I refused to eat anything he brought me unless he tried it first. His answer to this was that only popes had their food tasted first. I said that in the same way as noblemen were obliged to taste the Pope's food, so he, a soldier and a low-class Prato chemist, was obliged to taste the food of a Florentine of my quality. We ended up swapping insults.

Messer Antonio, who was growing a little ashamed of himself, especially as he intended to make me pay the expenses that the dead castellan had let me off, got my food brought me by another of his servants, who was a friend of mine. This man was gracious enough to try the food for me without any objection. He also told me how every day the Pope was being pestered by that Monsignor di Morluc, who was continually asking for me on behalf of the French King, and he added that the Pope showed little inclination to give me up and that Cardinal Farnese - formerly my great patron and friend - had had to say that I shouldn't count on getting out of prison for some time. I commented that I would find a way out in spite of them all.

The admirable young man begged me to hold my peace and not let  anyone hear me say such things, since it would do me no good. He added that, trusting in God as I did, I ought to wait for His mercy and remain patient. I told him that the powers of God had no need to fear the malignant workings of injustice.

After a few days had passed the Cardinal of Ferrara arrived in Rome; and when he went to pay his respects to his Holiness, the Pope detained him so long that supper time came round. The Pope was a very knowledgeable man, and wanted to have a leisurely talk with the Cardinal about all those wretched French affairs. Now it happens that when men eat together they often say things which might otherwise remain unsaid. Well then, as the great French King was always very liberal in his dealings, and as the Cardinal, who thoroughly understood the King's disposition, went out of his way to concede far more to the Pope than had been expected, the Pope ended up in a very good mood. He was all the more merry because it was his custom once a week to indulge in a violent debauch, after which he would vomit. When the Cardinal saw how cheerful the Pope was and how he was in a mood to grant favours, with great insistence he asked for me on behalf of the King, emphasizing how anxious the King was to have his request granted. Then with a great laugh the Pope, who felt that his time for vomiting was drawing near and had drunk so much wine that it was beginning to have its effect, cried:

‘This very instant, I want you to take him home with you.’

Then he gave express orders for my release and rose from the table. The Cardinal sent for me at once before Signor Pier Luigi, who in no circumstances would have let me leave prison, could know of what was happening. The Pope's messenger arrived along with two great noblemen from the Cardinal's household: and after the fourth hour of the night had passed I was led from my cell and taken to the Cardinal, who greeted me very affectionately. There I found comfortable lodgings and stayed on to enjoy myself.

Messer Antonio, who had replaced his brother, the dead castellan, had me pay all the expenses and the other various fees demanded by the police and such-like people, and he ignored the instructions that the dead castellan had left with regard to me. This matter cost me a good few dozen crowns, and besides this the Cardinal told me that if I valued my life I should have to go carefully, and that if he had not secured my release from prison the night he did I would never have been freed; he had already heard it said that the Pope very much regretted having let me go.

I must retrace my steps a little, since all these events are mentioned in my poem. While I had been staying those few days in the Cardinal's apartments, and then in the Pope's private garden, among other dear friends of mine, one of Bindo Altoviti's cashiers, called Bernardo Galluzzi, looked me up: I had entrusted property worth several hundred crowns to him, and he sought me out in the Pope's private garden and wanted to return it all. At this I protested that there was nowhere else it could go, either to a dearer friend or a safer place. He twisted and turned in his determination not to keep it, and I almost had to force him to do so. When I finally escaped from the castle I found that this poor young Bernardo Galluzzi was ruined: and so I lost my belongings.

Again, while I was in prison I had a terrible dream, and it seemed that words of the utmost importance were being written on my forehead as if with a pen; the writer told me three times that I must keep quiet, and not speak of them to anyone. When I woke up I found there were marks on my forehead. In my poem about the prison I mention a number of things of this sort. Also I was foretold, without then knowing its significance, all that later happened to Pier Luigi, so clearly and exactly that I am convinced it was an angel from heaven who revealed it to me.

There is one thing I must not leave out - perhaps the greatest that ever happened to any man - and I write this to testify to the divinity and mysteries of God, which He deigned to make me worthy of. From the time I had my vision till now, a light - a brilliant splendour - has rested above my head, and has been clearly seen by those very few men I have wanted to show it to. It can be seen above my shadow, in the morning, for two hours after the sun has risen; it can be seen much better when the grass is wet with that soft dew; and it can also be seen in the evening, at sunset. I became aware of it in France, in Paris, since in that region the air is so much freer from mists that it can often be seen, far more clearly than in Italy where mists are much more frequent. But this is not to say that I cannot see it on all occasions and can point it out to others, but not so well as in that part of the world.

I will write out my poem that I composed in prison, and in praise of my prison. Then I shall carry on with my story of the ups and downs that I have experienced from time to time, and also the story of what is yet to come.

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