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Dr. Vincent Gubernari is told of his imminent death



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Death and its Mystery – After Death – Camille Flammarian

Dr. Vincent Gubernari, who had made his home on the pretty Arcetri Hill near Florence (all Galileo's admirers know of it), had been an orphan from his earliest years and had been brought up tenderly by his aunt, who had become a second mother to him.
He was a convinced materialist, and was, above all, completely skeptical where spiritism was concerned. He was nevertheless impressed by the fact that several of his friends who were learned and well balanced, were taking certain experiments seriously.
Desirous of learning the truth with his own eyes, he expressed a desire to try a seance in his home.
Favoured by fortune, he had married Signora Isabella Sergardi, a member of a patrician family in Siena, who had brought him a large dowry. The husband and wife had agreed that, in case either should die, the possessions of the deceased one should go to the other. Signora Isabella had already made her will with this provision, thinking that her husband had done likewise. The doctor made an agreement with his spiritistic friends that he would be present at certain seances, and would see what happened. Let us listen to the story

So they held some seances. On the occasion of the second one, on October 29, 1874, the persons of the group had scarcely placed their hands on the table when it was violently shaken. The doctor demanded the disturber's name.

 “Tua zia Rosa [Your Aunt Rosa]," was the answer.

Surprised, the doctor replied: “Well, if you're really my good Aunt Rosa, help me in my profession and aid me to make money."

 “I did not come for that. I came to advise you to change your way of life, and to think of your wife."

"Of my wife? I've already thought of her," the doctor answered boldly. "So much so that each of us has made a will in the other's favor."

 “That is a lie," said the spirit, shaking the table violently. “She has left everything to you, but you have left her nothing."

 It was then that Signora Gubernari, who was present at the seance, entered into the conversation. She declared that the spirit was mistaken and that her husband could prove it by showing his will to the friends then present.

Upon this interruption on the part of his wife, Dr. Gubernari, feeling himself compromised, answered that he was a conscientious man, but that he would show the will to no one. Then the spirit, shaking the table still more violently, added: “I tell you again that you are an impostor! Change your will, and change your life, too! You have no time to lose, for before many days have passed you will be in the spirit world."

This revelation was like a thunderbolt to the doctor. He was overwhelmed by it, and cried, in a rage: "Die before my wife? It's impossible. I'm younger than she. To the devil with that table!"

The seance ended at this point. The next day Colonel Maurizio, a friend of the doctor, saw that he was greatly agitated, and spoke to him of the deception often practised at spiritistic meetings, proposing that he verify the statements at another seance at the home of Countess Passerini.

This seemed to calm the doctor, and he awaited impatiently the upshot of the new experiment:  “There was no deception," the spirit stated at this new seance, “and what was said was the absolute truth."

 “Therefore," they asked, “Dr. Gubernari must soon die?"

“Without any doubt, and before the end of the year." That they might not increase the doctor's worry, they told him that there had been deception in this case also, and that he would be wrong to bother himself about it. This statement calmed his distress to such an extent that he found himself unable to understand the anguish which the prediction of his imminent death had caused him.

Nevertheless during the night of November 12th, he came down with a raging fever. The physicians stated that his illness was not serious, yet the patient suffered terribly. His friends went to Countess Passerini's home, for a new seance. A spirit manifested itself, and made this reply to the questions asked: “I understand nothing about medicine, but to do you a favour I can go and look for a spirit who followed that profession during his life on earth. Wait a minute."

A silence. After some moments the table moved once more: “I have found the doctor; he is here I question him."

 “What illness is Gubernari suffering from?"

 "From a fatal disease. He will soon be one of us."

 "Is his illness merely physical, or is it mental as well?"

“Both physical and mental."

 “Can you tell us who you are?"

 "My name is not unknown to you: Dr. Panattoni."  

Some days later Signore Gubernari's colleagues, called into consultation, diagnosed his malady as inflammation of the bladder, and he succumbed on December 30, 1874.

This former skeptic, on his death-bed, stated that he saw, near him, Dr. Panattoni, who did not desert him for an instant, and also his mother and his Aunt Rosa, who tried to console him, and exhorted him not to regret leaving this earthly life. And. he added: "What I say is the absolute truth; I feel it's the end, for me, and under such circumstances people don't lie."

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image


Observation contributed by: Rosie Rock-Evans