CIOCCI, Raffaele, A Narrative of Iniquities and Barbarities Practiced at Rome in the Nineteenth Century. London: J. Nisbet, 1844.

Original citation: L’Inquisition à Rome en 1841, ou iniquités et cruautés exercées à Rome sur la personne de Raphael Ciocci. Paris: Paulin, 1844.

Condemned: August 8, 1845.

§2: Books including any heresy or schism attempting to destroy religious orthodoxy;

§6: Books that scorn or ridicule the Church or Catholic dogma in any way.

Raffaele Ciocci was born in or around 1820, most likely somewhere between Rome and Naples, in south-central Italy. When he was about eight, he was sent to study under the Order of the Liguorini, rivals of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus), in the city of Fosinone. According to Ciocci, the former, a newer order of clergy, distinguished themselves by “making themselves promoters of total ignorance” (4). The young Ciocci had a rough go of it at the Liguorini’s College of the Holy Redeemer (San Redentore), what with the school’s focus on early-morning lectures on the nature of heaven and hell, weekly mandatory flagellations, and forced fasting.

Five years later, Ciocci was then sent to study with the Jesuits in Rome. There, he promptly alerted his superiors that he actually had no intention of entering the clergy even though the Jesuits had figured him for a future monk. This came even more to their consternation considering he had already been tonsured (had his head partially shaved). After another four unhappy years, now aged about 16, he wrote to his mother and with her support managed to be “freed from the austere rules of the Jesuits” (16).

During this period of relative freedom, Ciocci had the audacity to innocently goof around with his fellow teenagers in public. Another Jesuit, Father Braudi, wasn’t about to let a young man get away with enjoying his youth, so he spoke with Ciocci’s mother and convinced her to once again ship her kid off to be raised by religious fanatics.

Long story short: Surprise! Ciocci continued to have a very un-fun time (though in Mrs. Ciocci’s defense, like many modern parents she was lulled into a state of tenuous complacency when Father Braudi told her that her son was going to be studying “philosophy”). Despite all attempts to break his spirit, however, the young Raffaele remained defiant and continued to cry foul about the many discrepancies and false reasoning that his superiors presented him with. But the Man still got the best of him. Through a conspiracy of priestly forgery and mail fraud he was deceived into signing over his whole life (including all present and future assets) to the Jesuits, officially committing himself to monkhood. Quoth the poor schmuck, “I have been entrapped into it. It was not my desire to become a monk — rather do I abominate and detest these monsters” (59).

Eventually, Ciocci escaped his cruel overlords, made it to England, wrote his memoirs, and had them published amidst a nation very much at odds with all things Rome since 1534, when King Henry VIII told the Papists to sod off after they wouldn’t grant him a divorce. We can imagine that the Brits were only too pleased to have some first-hand proof of the Catholics’ mistreatment of their own kind.

Here are a few other choice cuts from Ciocci’s A Narrative of Iniquities and Barbarities that clearly contribute to its inclusion on the Index:

I could not do otherwise than look upon them as incarnate angels, breathing only love to God and zeal for the eternal salvation of souls. Were I now to judge them, from the manner in which they fastened to my foot the first link of the chain that afterwards bound me so roughly, I should call them ‘fanatics,’ for I believe they were sincere, and actuated by mistaken zeal. (8)

Members of the Church of Rome! examine for yourselves the Bible—confront with it the rule of faith which man has presented for your credence, and place your reliance on that rule, only so far as it is in accordance with the sacred test! (14)

At the sound of the bell, the master of the novices made his appearance, and the General, embracing me, consigned me to his care. His kiss, like that of the traitor Judas, was a kiss of betrayal; it was the prelude to six years of rigorous imprisonment—six years of prolonged suffering. (28)

And, to top it all off:

The monk conducted me along a corridor, at the end of which was a massive door, through which we passed. As he was in the act of closing it, I inquired whether I should be permitted to pass in and out at pleasure.

He smiled, and replied—

Lasciate ogni speranza, o voi che entrate.’ (All hope abandon, you who enter here.) DANTE, Canto iii. 3.

‘What, Father!’ I added, in alarm, ‘is this the gate of hell?’

‘On the contrary,’ said he, ‘it is the door of your eternal salvation.’ (28-29)

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