Signor X. is one of the members of our Rome church, who has been connected with it almost from the beginning, and he has disappointed us in the pleasantest way; for he was so timid and cold in his manners, and had married into such a bigoted family that he did not seem to feel that his soul was his own, so that we scarcely dared to hope that he would remain true to his profession. But under all his cold timidity, there was a staunchness of character, and above all, he had in him the root of the matter. Instead of his drawing back, we observed an increasing assiduity in his attendance at the meetings, though each time he seemed either to leave his home by stealth or after a conflict. His money contribution was always ready. Once when, unexpectedly, and for the first time, called on to pray in public, though dreadfully embarrassed, he did not refuse. I have already written of a gift of $300 made to our mission after careful inquiry as to its needs. He was the giver, and declining all thanks, he said in his shy way, “Pray for the conversion of my wife and children.” That was nearly two and a half years ago. I did pray for them daily for months, though, alas, with very weak faith, and then, alas, I ceased to do it.
About the beginning of last fall, we were surprised and delighted to see our brother enter the meeting accompanied by his daughter, an attractive girl of sixteen. From that time she came regularly both to the services of the church and to the Sunday school. She proved herself singularly intelligent, and her natural gifts had been well cultivated. Her manner was at once grave and affable, so that she soon won the esteem and affection of us all. No doubt she had been instructed by her father, a duty I had once urged upon him; it is certain that she seemed from the first to understand the way of salvation, and it was evident that the grace of God was taking possession of her heart. Well that it was, for in January, when many others were stricken with the influenza, she, too, fell a victim, and after sufferings patiently borne she died on the 25th of April. … Young in the faith as she was, her trust in the Saviour was firm, and she experienced much of the joy of salvation and loved to speak of Divine things with the minister and other Christians who visited her. … She begged her mother not to interfere any more with her father in his religion; she spoke affectionate, serious words to her sister, and gave a charge that neither priest nor monk should have part in her funeral. She died rejoicing that she would soon be with Christ.
Excerpted from “A Work of Grace in Italy” by George B. Taylor, The Foreign Mission Journal, July 1900, p. 6-7.