The conversion of the nephew of pope Paul VI




‘He was trying in vain, through prayers, penances and the religious exercises of his vocation of priest, to soothe the restlessness of his heart. During a simple Pentecostal meeting he found the salvation of his soul and now he works as a missionary among the Indians in South America’.

That’s how the ‘Evangelii Harold’, the official organ of the Swedish Pentecostal Movement, published this news which is at the same time a surprising and glad news. The details about this conversion come to us from a Danish writer, Mrs Trolly Nrutzsky – Wulff, who lives in Canada and is very active in the Pentecostal Churches. It was during a recent Christian convention, at San Diego, in California, that she met Giovanni Battista Treccani’.

Here we give a summary of the article published by our sister on that event, for which we give thanks to God. We pray that the blessing of God might be on the new ministry of our brother in Christ Giovanni Battista Treccani and that his courageous example might help many of his old brothers in the Roman Catholic Church to experience the peace of the soul which accompanies the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, a gift received with a broken, contrite and penitent heart.


He searched for God since his childhood


Giovanni Battista Treccani was born in Italy in a family which was traditionally religious. His mother, sister of the present pope Paul VI, was a devout catholic and she took a great interest in the religious training of her sons. Among the children of the Catholic Church the Church exerted its greatest influence on Giovanni Battista. Since his tender childhood, he felt the desire to live near God. Afterward, he became a member of the choir in the parish church, and he fulfilled his duties with great dignity and respect. He would often kneel down before the statues of the Virgin Mary and of the saints to receive from them some grace. He was always disappointed.


 At the seminary


When he was an adolescent, he felt the call to dedicate his life to the service of God. His father was opposed to his decision. Notwithstanding this, the young Treccani did not let anyone divert him from what he thought it was God’s plan for his life.

His mother understood him fully, and while he was working in the farms of the district in order to gain the money which was necessary for his studies, she was saving as much money as possible to help her son to become a man of Church.

Finally, one day he was able to enter the seminary to begin his studies. He thought: ‘There I will find God’s peace for my soul and His Benevolence on my life: my ardent desire of a true fellowship with Him will be fully satisfied’.

Open spirit, sincerely obedient to the rules of his Church, he talked to his professors about the distress of his soul. But nobody was able to help him to find the fellowship with God he needed so much. The reading of the biographies of the saints was of no use to him for he realized that the saints themselves – like him – were poor human creatures in search of peace.

The father-confessor of the seminary, whom Treccani consulted, had to acknowledge that he himself had never known this peace and so he could not help him to find it.

The time he spent in the seminary did not give him what he longed for, on the contrary it seemed that the restlessness of his soul had increased.


He was not allowed to visit his dying father


When his father, who eventually had accepted the choice made by his son, fell suddenly ill, he asked for the presence of his son beside him, hoping that he – as a servant of the Church – could help him to die in peace, Treccani’s Superiors did not allow him to visit his dying father by saying that a priest first of all belongs to the Church and that the family-relations must have no influence on his priestly duties. He obeyed his superiors with a deep sorrow in his heart, however he found that decision little compatible with the fifth commandment of the Word of God which commands us to honour our father and our mother. That decision of his superiors left a deep wound in the soul of the young priest.


South America


Another career opened before Giovanni Battista Treccani. He wished to serve God in the circumstances which required sacrifice. His uncle, the present pope Paul VI, at the time archbishop of Milan, to whom he revealed his wish, intervened to support him. So, after some time, he was sent to the mountainous region of Andes, in South America, to serve as coadjutor of a bishop.

It was among those people that he carried out a very praiseworthy work, and although his heart was still empty and restless, he devoted himself to the new task, in which the risks were very numerous and the work was painful. It was in that region that he met for the first time an Evangelical Missionary work. He condemned it on principle, because His Church was the guardian of the Christian truth. Yet, even though he was very devoted to what he regarded as the cause of God, every day he felt all the more his spiritual poverty and his incapability of helping efficaciously souls in their distress.

As for asking the other priests for help, he knew that they were in the same condition, for they did not know what it meant to have the peace of God in one’s heart.


Faced with the simplicity of the Evangelical testimony


One day, while he was coming out of a chapel where he had prayed before the Virgin Mary, he met an Indian who asked him what he had done into that chapel. At first he felt little inclined to answer. ‘Should he – who was wearing the cassock – admit before that Indian that he was in search of the peace of God? What a turmoil in his heart! Yet, yielding to an impulse of the heart, he humbled himself before that man he knew not and he answered that he had prayed in order to have peace in his soul. ‘That’s not the right place where to make this request’, the Indian said to him: ‘You can find peace only in Jesus!’.

That Indian brother, who had experienced salvation, gave with simplicity his testimony to that young priest, speaking to him about the peace and the joy he had found by faith in Jesus Christ, his Saviour.

It was the first time that Treccani heard the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that he heard about the blood of the Lamb which purifies from all sins, and he heard eagerly. Afterward, the Indian invited him to attend the Church services, but it was not easy for a catholic priest to sit down among those people, whom until that moment he had fought because he considered them heretics. Notwithstanding this, he could not resist that power that was drawing him to them. One day he sat down in the last pew in the room because he feared that someone might recognize him. The Gospel was preached in the fire and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and Treccani immediately realized that in that place there was what he had searched for in vain for many years somewhere else. Everything inside him was saying: ‘Yes’ to that message about the way of salvation, which was so precise. Yes, it could not be otherwise: God’s salvation is a free gift of the Divine grace, a marvellous and infinitely precious gift. The work of salvation is complete, men have nothing to add to it.


The hour of decision


That first contact with the Evangelical Christians was followed by days of painful fights. His superiors had come to know that he had been in the Evangelical Church and they made him understand their disapproval. He tried to remove from himself the influence which the meetings with the true believers was having on him; with a double zeal he devoted himself to all kinds of activities in the Church in order to escape the attraction of the Gospel.

One day, a big procession had to take place in the city: the statue of a famous saint had to be taken for a walk along the streets. All the clergy would take part in the procession, included the bishop, who had to head the procession in order to bring great prestige to the feast. That day marked the turning point in the life of Treccani, he left the procession and went to the Evangelical Church. There he sat down in the first pew of that humble place and he met Jesus, the Saviour of his soul. The divine peace, which he had desired eagerly for many years, filled all his being and in those solemn moments he realized what it means ‘to have the assurance of one’s salvation’.

His disappearance from the procession had been noticed and the bishop together with other priests went to search for him to bring him back to his place. But he answered them: ‘I cannot follow you any longer, my place is here, at the Cross of Golgotha’.

At present, Treccani is a Christian brother, saved by grace. He was baptized by immersion and the Lord in His grace granted him the baptism with the Holy Spirit. He is no longer a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. His experiences with the Lord indicate that he has chosen the truth of the Word of God and he has given up the traditions of men. He has to pay a price like many others; scorn, hostility and persecutions.

While he was in Italy for a stay, one day he found that some wicked visitors had crept into his room and had plundered all he had on earth.


From: ‘L’Araldo Apostolico’ [The Apostolic Herald], n°7-8, 1967



Note of the translator. A few years ago, brother Giovanni Battista Treccani came to Italy and we know for sure that he is still in the faith, bearing witness of the salvation he experienced on that day by the grace of God. The pastor of a Church of the Assemblies of God, in a letter wrote to me that brother Treccani visited them.