I should beg a thousand pardons for my delay in writing to you; but I will do something better: I will make amends. Even if I did not write to you, never did I cease preparing a response, particularly founded and sure, upon things which I know with certainty, regarding your request to explain certain papers and various writings about the origins of your most honored name and also, in part, of mine.
These [papers], as you and I well know, were for centuries kept with other religious books, in San Giovanni of Cortesano, in the lands of the Community of Chiare [Chiari in the province of Brescia]. There is no longer any trace of either papers or books in that place, as everything was burned or lost in those horrible times which followed the battles of the year 1701. Of so many precious stories did the frequency of war in our country deprive us, as did the many public and private disasters, the damage of time, and the ignorance of too many. Those who witnessed this, nine years ago now, spoke of the barbarian foreigners starting fires with these books, and keeping them going with the pews of the church. Destiny decreed that, because of my thirst for ancient knowledge and love of History, I found myself among those books the Autumn before these events took place, in time, therefore, to search through those texts and those dusty papers, and many were the notes I took about what I found there of great interest to me.
The books I saw were all stored in bookcases, and were church missals, some more than a hundred years old, a Latin grammar, and one different from the others. This one was like the others on the outside, but once opened I could see that there were pages out of the ordinary, some Latin writings, handwritten notes and pages of prayers to God and to the Saints. I at once avidly read all the Latin ones, and others of interest. I read and reread, and many pages did I write, translating and taking notes, until at last I was satisfied. I have kept all of these writings, and they are now of great help to me in retelling you what I found there, with accuracy and truth.
The Salvoni of Chiare [Chiari] always had memories of their origins, and through legends and stories, passed these on to the younger generations. This much I know because I am in part one of this family. The legends of the Dragon and the Child, and that of the Archangel Gabriel, are as you well know, two examples of these. There were also memories in the family of papers and of written accounts. Many were aware of the place, the church and the book, even if for hundreds of years not one of them went to search through those papers, or otherwise witness their content.