Francisco Penzotti

Penzotti, Francisco (1851–1925). Italian missionary in South America. Born in Chaivenna, Italy, at the age of thirteen he emigrated to Uruguay, South America. In 1875 he heard the gospel and shortly thereafter became a Christian within the Methodist Church. He threw his heart into the spread of the Scriptures as a Bible distributor with the American Bible Society throughout Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. Visits to Peru in 1884 and 1886 convinced Penzotti and the ABS of the need to establish a Bible Society agency to serve Peru, Ecuador, and the western part of Bolivia.

Penzotti moved his family to Callao, Peru, in 1888 to direct the ministry. During the following year Penzotti and his three colleagues, Juan Arancet, José Illescas, and Manuel Noriega, were able not only to distribute 4,500 Bibles or portions thereof, but also to explain the gospel to those who acquired them. Such receptivity was sure to cause concern among the Catholic hierarchy, especially at a time when public non-Catholic religious services were prohibited in Peru. Penzotti was taken to court, where his case attracted worldwide attention. He was imprisoned on July 26, 1890. After nine months in jail he was finally released on Easter Sunday in 1891. He continued his Bible distribution ministry in Peru, in Central America after 1896, and finally in Argentina, where this “Luther of Latin America” died in 1925.

Lindy Scott

 A. Scott Moreau, Harold Netland, and Charles van Engen, Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Baker Books; A. Scott Moreau, 2000), 742–743.

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