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A Spanish Girl and her Italian Grandfather


Pietro Lorefice, who died two years ago, was a highly-esteemed EMF missionary on the island of Sicily, Italy. Andy and Jean Woods have sent us a story about Pietro, written by his grandaughter. Andy says: We have had the privilege of having Abigail Rivas Lorefice to stay with us. She has connections with the churches in Alcázar de San Juan, Ciudad Real and Cuenca (central Spain), in addition to her links with EMF through her maternal grandparents, Pietro and Teresa Lorefice. During her stay we have been able to ask her about herself and her grandfather. She has written a short biography of Pietro for her family’s benefit'. Andy shares a little of that story here...

Andy and Jean Woods with Abigail

Abigail was born 21 years ago in Ciudad Real Province, Spain.  She grew up with her parents, Victor and (Romu)alda in the church of Alcázar de San Juan, where Jose (Pepe) Moreno is the pastor, and she is half Spanish, half Italian.  (In both Spain and Italy, mothers retain their maiden name on marriage as a part of their surname, whilst the children take both surnames).

Having grown up in a believing home, Abigail is unsure when she became a Christian; she thinks somewhere between twelve and sixteen years of age. She remembers that, as a child, she had no fear of storms, but that these began to worry, and later, to terrify her, because she realised that she was not prepared to meet with God.  So she prayed a lot and generally became more interested in spiritual things!  In the end, she became convinced of gospel truths and now she is assured that Jesus died for her.  She was baptised in 2019.  After school, she began a four-year nursing degree at the university in Cuenca. Whilst in Cuenca, she has attended the church there, and has helped out with the music and led a young teenager’s group.  Abigail graduates next year.  Her fiancé, Lucas, comes from the church in Valdepeñas, central Spain, and she expects to work as a nurse in the future.

The granddaughter who has paid a tribute to a remarkable grandfather

As mentioned above, Abigail is the granddaughter of Pietro and Teresa Lorefice, whom she used to visit in Sicily every summer.  She speaks Spanish and Italian (and English) fluently.  Her early memories of Pietro are that he spent a lot of time in his study with his books, and that he and Teresa went early to church every Sunday  to set up everything so as to be ready for the services, and that they always left the building after everyone else.  The biography she has written for the benefit of her family includes extracts from an English book, They Shall Be Mine, which she read, with less English than she has now, some years ago,. But she has also gained many insights from Teresa, as Pietro died two years ago.  So we asked her for some details!



Pietro and Teresa Lorefice


Pietro Lorefice


Pietro was born in Sicily in 1938, the son of an army captain, Romualdo Lorefice.  Both his father and grandfather were also barons, and there is a Lorefice crest.

The Lorefice Crest

This led to the unusual situation in which the young Pietro had a soldier for a babysitter!  Life was hard in Sicily after the Second World War, and food was scarce.  When Pietro was still a child, his father was imprisoned in Africa for two years.  His mother used to send him to buy chopped meat. He would regularly return with half, having eaten the other half!

Pietro with his soldier babysitter!

Later on, when his father had returned, Pietro was sent to a monastery to train as a Catholic monk, but he hated it. One day, whilst gardening, a stone which someone had thrown over the wall landed at his feet, with a gospel of John attached to it. Pietro was delighted to read this, but later it was discovered, confiscated and burnt, because it did not have the Roman Catholic seal of approval.

After finishing his schooling, Pietro trained as an accountant. At this time, travelling on a train to Milan, he saw someone reading a Bible, something he had never seen before, as Bibles hardly existed in Sicily.  Entering into conversation with this person, he was impressed that they knew more of the truth than he did, and he became hungrier to read the Bible for himself. A fellow student remarked that in his house there was a Bible which his father had bought in America.  Pietro quickly got hold of it; reading it, he was surprised to discover that it was nothing like he had been taught. He understood and believed the gospel in 1954, and became a member of an Evangelical church in 1956.

When his father learned of his conversion, and having failed to convince Pietro of his error, he turned him out of the house. For a year, Pietro lived in a nearby cave, from which he went to work as a salesman to support himself.  One day he awoke to a cow licking his face!  He used the lid of a tin of polish as a mirror. The local people thought all this very strange for the son of a baron. Eventually, he was allowed to return home, to everyone’s delight. Then he had to do his military service.

A Bible College in Switzerland had come to hear about Pietro when he was 22 years old, and offered him a two year expenses-paid training, which Pietro jumped at. On his return, he started work as a missionary in Ragusa, near his hometown of Módica. There he met Teresa, and they married in 1964, by which time Teresa had also trained in Switzerland for six months.  Later Pietro and Teresa joined EMF; Irene Chase, another EMF missionary, went to work with them. Pietro and Teresa had four daughters, all of whom now live in Spain, though one married an Englishman, and one an American!  Abigail is the daughter of their youngest daughter.

Pietro and Teresa on their wedding day

Read more about Pietro in this tribute to him, written by a former EMF director, Daniel Webber.

Prayer Points

Prayer pointers:

  • Pray for Teresa Lorefice, who now lives in Spain. She has had to leave her homeland and the ministry she and her husband carried out so faithfully for decades.
  • Pray for Sicily, the island that Pietro longed to reach with the Gospel.