Sunday, May 6, 2012

"For the Strength of the Hills"

The story about my Great Grandmother's brother Gus Roman's tragedy with the motorcycle prompted me to go deeper in the family history archives with my ancestors of the French-Italian Piedmont. We did get a hymn (#35) from our people of the mountains. And Malan's Peak above Ogden, Utah, is named for one of my ancestral families.

Malan's Peak from Weber State University

There is a wonderful history of the Piedmontese Saints who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and came to Zion. The author, Diane Stoke, apparently a distant cousin of mine, makes her BYU Master's Thesis, The Mormon Waldensians, freely available on-line at her website. (Thanks, Diane!)

And there is another odd and poetic connection to my proto-Protestant heritage. My ancient Cavalier Cousin, Henry Vaughan, was a contemporary of the Poet John Milton. While Vaughan retreated to relative obscurity in his Welsh valleys, Milton was better known, connected as we was with Cromwell's Puritans. There was some serious religious sentiment in his poetry, particularly Paradise Lost. And there is also a Sonnet dedicated to my ancestors in the Piedmont who are some of the earliest Protestants documented at least back to the 12th Century, and some claims go back to an original Apostolic connection. Over the centuries, The Waldensians were the target of numerous persecutions including full-scale Crusades.

John Milton (1608-1674)
    AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
    Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
    Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
    When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
    Forget not: in thy book record their groans
    Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
    Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled
    Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
    The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
    To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
    O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
    The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
    A hundred fold, who, having learnt thy way,
    Early may fly the Babylonian woe.

For the strength of the hills, indeed!

A Mountain Home above Torre Pellice, Italy.


  1. I used to love camping at Malan's Peak and Malan's Basin. I went all the time as a scout/teenager, but haven't been in many years.

    1. Thanks, Daniel! I've got to get up there myself. It's closer than Italy.

  2. I descend from John Daniel Malan and was able to go over to Piedmont and the surrounding areas with a group of Cardon's 2 years ago. It is truly wonderful!

  3. do you mind if i use this photo in a talk I am giving about the early missionaries in Italy?

  4. Not at all. The first one is mine. I found the second on the internet so you probably want to check the site I referenced.


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