The tombs of Arnold Savage Landor with its extroardinary
statue of Julia Savage Landor, Walter Savage Landor's estranged
wife, and that of Rosa Madiai lie side by side in the
Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery. Julia Savage Landor's
is grandiloquent in its hypocritical mourning. She, the daughter
of a bankrupt Swiss banker, had thrown her poet husband out of
their villa he had given them in San Domenico, leaving him to
roam the streets of Florence penniless, until the Brownings
arranged for him to lodge with their maid, Lily Wilson, in Via
della Chiesa. Lily had been the witness to the Brownings'
marriage and the companion to their elopement.
While Rosa's tomb is crude but eloquent in a different
manner, giving Mary's 'Magnificat' of humility.
MADIAI PULINI/ ITALIA/ Madiai/ Rosa/ / Italia/ Firenze/ 28 Marzo/
1871/ / 1124/+/ Rosa Madiai, Rome/ Walter Savage Landor, 'The
Archbishop of Forence and Francesco Madiai', Imaginary Conversations/
Giuliana Artom Treves, Golden Ring , pp. 196-99/ ROSA/
PULINI/ NEI MADIAI/ L'ANIMA MIA MAGNIFICA IL SIGNORE E LO
SPIRITO/ MIO . . . ESTEGGIA IN DIO MIO SALVATORE/ . . . /
CREDETTI IL VANGELO/ PATII IL MONDO TRISTO/ SON ORA NEL CIELO/
RISIEDO CON CRISTO/A5T(70)
Francesco e Rosa Madiai
ROSA MADIAI PULLINI (+1871), a woman of the people, of
modest condition, she and her husband found themselves at
the centre of an international dispute: a public commission
of inquiry, diplomatic intervention from all over Europe,
biographies and newspaper articles. The Madiais, converted
to Protestantism like Count Guicciardini, were sentenced to
prison, but the sentence was commuted to exile because of
the tremendous reaction created by the severity of the
sentence. Exiled to Nice, they returned to Florence in 1859
to end their days in a modest little lodging in Piazza del
Carmine. Rosa's grave is near those of other witnesses to
the dawn of the Florentine Evangelical movement. LS
Coincidentally, Walter Savage Landor's final Imaginary Conversation XL
is the 'Archbishop of Florence and Francesco Madiai' and part of
that campaign, particularly carried on in English, to free the
Madiai from the injustice of their prison sentence.
Archbishop. It grieves my heart, O unfortunate man!
to find you reduced to this condition.
Francesco Madiai. Pity it
is, my Lord, that so generous a heart should be grieved by any
Archbishop. Spoken like a
Christian! There are then some remains of faith and charity
left within you!
Francesco Madiai. Of
faith, my Lord, there are only the roots, such as have
often penetrated ere now the prison-floor. Charity too is
among those plants which, although they thrive best under the
genial warmth of heaven, do not wither and weaken and died
down deprived of air and sunshine. I might never had thought
seriously of praying for my enemies, had it not been the will
of a merciful and all-wise God to cast me into the middle of
Archbishop. From these,
whom you rashly call enemies, you possess the power of
delivering yourself. Confess your crime.
Francesco Madiai. I know
the accusation; not the crime.
to the doctrines of the Church.
Francesco Madiai. I
am so ignorant, my Lord, as never to have known a tenth or
twentieth part of its doctrines. But by God's grace I know and
understand the few and simple ones which His blessed Son
Archbishop. Ignorant as
you acknowledge yourself to be, do you presume that you are
able to interpret them?
Francesco Madiai. No, my
Lord. He has done that Himself, and intelligibly to all
Archbishop. By whose
authority did you read and expound the Bible?
Francesco Madiai. By His.
Archbishop. By His? To
Francesco Madiai. What he
commanded the Apostles to do, and what they did, surely is no
Archbishop. It may be.
Francesco Madiai. Our
Lord commanded His Apostles to go forth and preach the gospel
to all nations.
Archbishop. Are you an
Apostle, vain, foolish man?
Francesco Madiai. Alas!
my Lord, how far, how very far, from the least of them! But
surely I may follow where they lead; and I am more likely to
follow them in the right road, if I listen to no directions
from others far behind.
Archbishop. Go on, go on,
self-willed creature! doomed to perdition.
Francesco Madiai. I have
ventured to repeat the ordinances of Christ and the Apostles;
no more. I have nothing to add, nothing to interpret.
Archbishop. I shall look
into the matter; I doubt whether He ever gave them such an
ordinance - I mean in such a sense - for I remember a passage
that may lead astray the unwary. Any thing more?
Francesco Madiai. My
Lord, there is also another.
Archbishop. What is that?
Francesco Madiai. "Seek
truth, and ensue it".
Archbishop. There is only
one who can tell us, of a surety, what truth is; namely, our
Francesco Madiai. Yes, my
Lord, of this I am convinced.
Archbishop. Avow it then
openly, and you are free at once.
Francesco Madiai. Openly,
most openly, do I, and have I, and ever will I avow it. Permit
me, my Lord Archbishop, to repeat the blessed words, which
have fallen from your Lordship; "There is only one who can
tell us of a certainty what truth is". - "our Holy Father", -
our Father which is in Heaven.
heretic! infidel! No, I am not angry; not in the least: but I
am hurt, wounded, wounded deeply. It becomes not me to hold a
longer conference with one so obstinate and obdurate. A lower
order in the priesthood has this duty to perform.
Francesco Madiai. My
Lord, you have conferred, I must acknowledge, an unmerited
distinction upon one so humble and so abject as I am. Well am
I aware that men of a lower order are the more proper men to
instruct me. They have taken that trouble with me and
indeed! so many? His Imperial Highness, well-informed, as we
thought, of what passes in every house, from the cellar to the
bed-chamber, had no intelligence or notion of this. Denounce
the culpable, and merit his pardon, his protection, his favor.
Do not beat your breast, but clear it. Give me at once the
names of these teachers, these listeners; I will intercede in
Francesco Madiai. The
name of the first and highest was written on the cross in
Calvary; poor fishermen were others on the sea of Galilee. I
could not enumerate the listeners; but the foremost rest, some
venerated, some forgotten, in the catacombs of Rome.
Madiai! there are yet remaining in you certain faint traces of
the Church in her state of tribulation, of the blessed saints
and martyrs in the catacombs. But, coming near home, Madiai,
you have a wife, aged and infirm; would not you help her?
Francesco Madiai. God
will; I am forbidden.
Archbishop. It is more
profitable to strive than to sigh. I pity your distress; let
me carry to her an order for her liberation.
Francesco Madiai. Your
Archbishop. Not without
Francesco Madiai. The
cock may crow ten times, ten mornings, ten years before I deny
my Christ. O wife of my early love, persevere, persevere.
Archbishop. This to me?
Francesco Madiai. No, my
Lord! but to a martyr; from one unworthy of that glory; in the
presence of Him who was merciful and found no mercy - my
Archbishop. After much
perseverance, I declare to you, with all the frankness of my
character, there is no prospect of your liberation.
Francesco Madiai. Adieu,
adieu, O Rosa! Light and enlivener of my earlier days, solace
and support of my declining! We must now love God alone, from
God alone hope succor. We are chastened but to heal our
infirmities; we are separated but to meet inseparably. To the
constant and resigned there is always an Angel that opens the
prison-door; we wrong him when we call him Death.
It is fitting that the tombs of Walter Savage Landor and Rosa
Madiai should rest in the same Swiss-owned so-called 'English'
Cemetery, along with that of the Contessa Giulia Guicciardini,
whose brother Pietro died in exile.
Julia Savage Landor's tomb, instead, is in
the Cemetery of the Allori near Galluzzo.