The Italian Fisherman

SOME time ago I spent a few days at Porta d'Anzio, the ancient Antium, birthplace of Nero and Claudius, and where the former had his summer palace. The sea has encroached upon the land, but yet the ruins of the imperial villa are still to be seen under the clear, deep, blue water. Walking along the shore towards Nettuno I came upon three fishermen, one of whom was reading aloud a newspaper; and as I drew near I asked to be allowed to sit down beside them, my object being to engage them in conversation. Many of these poor Italians are extremely ignorant, but seeing this one was able to read the newspaper to his companions, I said to him: "As I see you are somewhat of a scholar, may I ask if you will do me the favor of reading this little book to your friends" at the same moment taking out of my pocket a Gospel portion— St. John.
The elder of the three, a weather-beaten old man, replied, "Thank you, Signora; I know this little hook well;" and continuing, added, "It contains the word of life.”
To make sure of his statement, I said, "Can you repeat to me a text out of it?" when immediately he replied, "Yes; in chapter 3:16 it is written: ' God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'”
Surprised and pleased, I asked him to tell me how he became possessed of this knowledge, and he told me the following simple narrative:—
“Two years ago I was in Rome. On my way to visit a friend I passed the door of a hall and heard singing—such sweet singing that I stopped to listen. A young man, seeing me standing, came and invited me in. I had never heard the simple story of the Cross before, and was much interested in what the signor was saying. Just as I rose to leave, one of those present said to me, ' Would you like to have a Bible? ' I replied, 'I am a poor fisherman, and cannot afford to buy books '; but I was asked to take one without money, and I carried it home and read it; and God spoke to my heart by it, and I now know that my sins are pardoned, and that I have life in Christ Jesus.”
I asked him if there were others in Anzio who, like himself, knew the Gospel, and his answer was: “Not one that I know of, but there are a few at Nettuno, and there we meet every Lord's Day to read and pray together. We have no pastor nor teacher, but among ourselves we have a little gathering—sometimes numbering five to eight or ten—when we study the Word for mutual help.”
Speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, I asked him if he continued his attendance there, and his reply was: "Never since I knew the blessed tidings of the Gospel have I entered within its walls.”