Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Meeting was Disappointing

         Russell visited Italy three times: in 1891, 1910, and 1912. [1] The only lecture he documents was that in 1910, and it was quite a failure.

            The lecture was planned before leaving New York. Russell had an appointment in Rome on May 1st. [2] At the end of April, while approaching Naples, Russell and his companions were advised that the lecture was arranged at the chapel of the Y.M.C.A, in Rome:

As we write we are on the Mediterranean approaching Naples, and have received advice informing us that we are advertised to speak in the city of Rome May 1st in the chapel of the Y.M.C.A. If such be the Divine will we shall be glad; if not, we shall be content and go on our journey seeking others who have a hearing ear, and for such opportunities as the Divine Providence may indicate. Of these we hope to write you later. [3]
            Someone, maybe a local Watch Tower believer, arranged the public lecture and did his best to publicize the event. A notice appeared in the Rome edition of one of the most important Italian newspapers, Il Giornale d’Italia. It reads:

EVANGELICAL LECTURES. Tomorrow May 1st 1910, at 15:00 (3:00 p.m.) Mr. Charles T. Russell from Brooklyn New York, in the hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association, via della Consulta n.67, will give a public lecture on the subject: “New Heaven and new Earth, that is, the restoration of all things – Isaiah 65:17, Acts 3:2. [4]

Il Giornale d'Italia May 30 1910

            Only eleven strangers attended. We don’t know if the lecture was given in Italian or English, but surely the weather didn’t help that day because it was inclement. Here are two reports of the day:

SUNDAY, May 1st, was spent in Rome. We had a public service which indicated the deep interest of the comparatively few present. Possibly as many grains of wheat were found as though the meeting had been larger. "The Lord knoweth them that are his." On the whole, however, the meeting was quite a disappointment and came far from fulfilling the prophesy made respecting the large attendance--based upon what were supposed to be very liberal arrangements for a large central auditorium and very liberal advertising. The dear Brother who had the matter in charge no doubt used his best judgment, but his experience in such matters was limited. We spelled our disappointment with an "H," and trusted that the Lord could and would overrule the matter according to his own wisdom. We hope to hear of further interest on the part of some present on that occasion. Our text was from Romans 1:16. [5]
Sunday, May 1 – This afternoon we heard our pastor’s discourse on Romans 1:16. It rained in torrents, but there were eleven strangers present. There is only one brother in the Truth in this place. One lady in the congregation was deeply impressed and seemed refreshed by what she had heard. Brother Russell had a talk with her and presented her with a volume. There were several also who remained to ask questions. Our train leaves at 9 p. m. for Venice. [6]
            Today Italy has the largest number of Watch Tower believers in Europe.  

My thanks to the Private Library Emanuele Pace


[1] ZWT March 1 1892, p. 71 (1376 reprint); ZWT, March 1 1910, p. 98 (4586 reprint); Souvenir Notes Bible Students Convention 1912 p. 107

[2] ZWT, April 1 1910, p. 126 (4597 reprint) - AMENDED DATES ABROAD

[3] ZWT June 1910, p. 183 (4623 reprint) - OUR VISIT TO THE LAND OF GOSHEN AND THE RED SEA

[4] Il Giornale d’Italia, April 30 1910

[5] ZWT, June 15 1910, p. 195 (4629 reprint) - BROTHER RUSSELL'S EUROPEAN TOUR

[6] Souvenir Notes Bible Students Conventions 1910, p. 48


Anonymous said...

Good work, Roberto. Well done!

It just shows that the measure of a powerful talk should never be judged by the numbers of those listening. (There is an application here somewhere that relates to the value of an excellent web blog, though readers may sometimes be few. Let the reader use discernment!)

Looking forward to the Manchester convention tomorrow.
Son of Ton

roberto said...

Have a good convention SoT. It is stellar