The S.S. Cedric approached Naples, Italy after nearly two days of sailing from Ramleh, Egypt. Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, taken by the wonder of the beauty of that sight and enamoured by the presence of the Master, wrote in his diary:
When the city of Messina appeared on the horizon, nestling in the bosom of the mountain, illuminated by lights, that piece of earth appeared to be a heaven with stars shining brightly. It was a majestic sight, the more so because it was being observed and enjoyed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The ship docked in Naples with the plan to continue sailing to America, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would spend over one year teaching the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh tirelessly. Shoghi Effendi, a fifteen-year-old boy at the time, was together with his Grandfather on this historical journey – but the Guardian’s journey was about to end.
On March 28, 1912 the S.S. Cedric pulled into Naples’ port. At the time Italy was at war with Turkey and there was an air of animosity towards the Bahá’ís, who were mistaken for Turks. Just after leaving Ramleh, the ship’s Italian doctor said that one of the friends had an eye disease making him unfit to go to America. He insisted on examining him, but Dr. Amin Farid, one of the believers in the Master’s entourage who later became a Covenant Breaker, prevented this from happening.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the friends did not disembark in Naples to avoid inciting the hatred of the local people because of their Eastern attire and Turkish fezzes. Everyone stayed on board, waiting to set off for America. However, a group of physicians from the city came on board to examine the eyes of the passengers.
Áqá Khusraw, who had been diagnosed by the ship’s doctor as unfit to proceed, was ordered to disembark. The doctors examined the friends and decided that the eyes of both Mirzá Munír-i-Zayn and Shoghi Effendi were also infected and they would not be allowed continue their journey.
The Master spent an entire day doing everything He could to change that decision. Dr. Amin Farid insisted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that Shoghi Effendi should be sent away, supporting with various arguments the diagnosis of the Italian doctor whom he had discredited earlier. Finally, on May 29, the Master asked the three friends to obey and heartbroken, He set sail for America.
The Master knew that a trumped up pretext had been fabricated to send His grandson back. ‘Amatu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khánum recounts in The Priceless Pearl what the Master said that night:
These Italians thought we were Turks and they reported us as such. They have stopped three of us. One was the secretary and one was the cook; this was not important. But this child, Shoghi Effendi, was helpless, why were they so strict with him?
And so it was that the journey to America with his beloved Grandfather ended for the young Shoghi Effendi.
Mahmúd‘s Diary, p.14-23
The Priceless Pearl, p.19-21
Photo from www.ca.bahai.org