RESTI NG in a hospital bed in Rome, Bishop Ferroni has now told his own story of the sufferings inflicted upon him in Chinese Communist jails—the sufferings which reduced him to the living skeleton brought across the Bridge to Freedom into Hong Kong.
" After 23 years in China," said the Franciscan Bishop, " I celebrated my last Mass there on February 28, 1952.
" While still at the altar in the chapel of the vicariate I was surrounded by Communist policemen. They snatched the crucifix from my hands, hand cuffed me and dragged me away without allowing me to take off the sacred vestments.
" All the missionaries of Laohokow. Chinese and Italian and including 10 Franciscan friars, were arrested with me.
.. We were taken to the town prison and each was placed in a separate cell.
.. For six long months I received no further news of my beloved friends.
"One morning as I was being transferred to another cell, 1 saw Fr. Scenna and Fr. Leonard Tchen, two missionaries famous in the whole of China for their great zeal, being led away in chains. I asked where they were being taken and I was told that they were to he shot.
" A short time later in fact heard the crack of the rifles of the execution squad in the prison yard.
" That meeting was not accidental but was explicitly intended to show me what my fate would he if I refused to accept their proposals.
" For six months they kept me in the prison of Laohokow without any interrogation, and when I began to protest against such unwarrantable treatment I was told that the authorities were busy teaching the peasants how to till the soil and had no time to waste on such as me.
" The chief of police, however, told me that I would be allowed to live for a few months.
" Later I was transferred to the prison at Shian and there my suf
ferings became indescribable. I was kept always handcuffed in a cell. They tore out the hairs of my beard, beat me with their hands and kicked me and then kept me in chains.
" For food I was given two spoonsful of rice a day, and if there was no rice. then I was given instead some boiled tree bark.
,. They also subjected me to the sight of food, hoping that thus in my great hunger I would be forced to yield. Then for a week I was given nothing at all to eat, but every day they took me to a large hall where police officers feasted sumptuously with an abundance of the choicest foods, but I was given not even the crumbs.
" I was accused of having founded the Legion of Mary, which they considered to be an army of enemies of the regime. I was also accused of having sent missionaries to teach the peasants how to read and write, but no against specganifiset mchearges were ever brought "The loudspeaker of the prison, however, continued all day long to yell out insults and calumnies and at night during the interrogations I was asked to give them my support, accept their false doctrines and betray the Church, but their efforts were in vain.
" I replied that their ideas would never enter my mind, and such in fact proved to be the case.
" For three years and seven months I was held a prisoner, hut the last 12 months were the hardest and the most excruciating of all. They seemed to know even my most innermost thoughts for they told me with scorn what I had in fact been thinking.
.. Then I was put on a train for Cantcin and to all and sundry I
was continually pointed out as a traitor and a spy. Although I did not know it, I was in fact travelling to freedom."