Last will of Giovanni Messina, ex Governor of Calabria, made in the Prison of Catanzaro in 1800 before he was shot on the orders of Napoleon – for political reasons.
My children, as I am expecting death shortly, listen to your father. Fate has brought me to this prison, not through any wrong I have done. If life is taken from me, my spirit lives on. I shall count myself blessed to live above where true glory is to be found – the real reward for tears and suffering. Human life is but a play – it must end.
My children, riches are useless and I can leave you none, nor could I nourish my soul on such worthless trash. My life has been spent with many troubles and cares. Time has not been given me to produce earthly goods for you.
Remember that only a great and noble heart leads to virtue. Let your father be a model of the heroic deeds of old, going to death with honour.
My wounded heart speaks to you tenderly and sincerely in all truth. Beloved children love God above all. Every human need finds in him its answer. God with immense majesty and power directs all things for good, joy, sorrow, hope, life and death itself. He, who has not God in view is lost and without a goal, straying along the path of never-ending ills.
The richest inheritance of any man on this earth is to be at peace with himself. Vice, is a terrible monster. My children keep it away from you particularly in your younger days. An evil heart is always troubled and trembles, but a good and wise one enjoys equanimity and peace.
Expect no good from evil minds: but with the good you will always find happiness.
Beloved orphans, when your father dies, listen to your mother who will replace me. She is a strong and wise woman, and this thought calms my anxiety.
You, beautiful Hippolita, listen to your mother and also you little Bruno.
These thoughts bring tears to my eyes, but these little drops are tokens of my love. You Rosario, the treasure of my heart – for you I sorrow most. In your infant ailments I gave you all my care, and now you are snatched from me. My precious, tender son pray that the Eternal One may release me soon from this living hell, where I suffer daily – in truth this prison is a real hell. Without liberty, it is better to die.
I am grateful for your prayers, continue to pray for God listens to the innocence of a childish heart.
If I am not condemned in the life to come, I will send you help, both moral and physical.
I have taught myself to tread the straight and narrow path. The proof of man’s philosophy is trial by pain and suffering.
One must have courage to despise evil both moral and worldly which are in collusion. Providence turns all things into good, sorrow, fear, pain, and also life and death. He is wise who looks with indifference both on riches and poverty. Children, fear God who punishes the wicked. New and heroic valour I wish you beloved children – perils are naught when we conquer evil.
Goodbye, I feel my soul is torn asunder, but I pray that God may love and guard you always. My sad spirit is with you my beloved wife. Goodbye, may we be reunited in Heaven.