Once a brother and sister lived alone together after their parents were dead. They loved each other dearly. In time the sister gave birth to a boy. Her brother put it in a little box and threw it into the sea.
Now it happened that a fisherman had just gone out to fish, and saw the box floating on the waves. "A ship must have sunk somewhere," he thought. "Perhaps there is something useful in the box."
He rowed after it and got it. When he opened it and saw the little child in it, he pitied it, took it home to his wife, and said: "Dear wife, our youngest child is already old enough to wean; nurse this poor innocent child in its place."
So his wife nursed and loved him like her own child. The boy grew and thrived and became larger and stronger day by day. The fisherman's sons, however, grew jealous and called him a "foundling." The boy was saddened by this and asked his foster-parents: "Dear parents, am I truly not your son?"
The fisherman's wife said: "I nursed you when you were a baby."
The fisherman forbade his children very strictly to call the little boy a "foundling", but when the child was larger and the fisherman sent him to school with his sons and they were out of their father's hearing, they began to mock the boy again and to call him "foundling," and the other children in the school did the same.
Then Crivòliu went again to his foster-parents and asked them if he was not their son. They persuaded him out of it, however, and put him off until he was fourteen. Then the fisherman told him how he had found him. "Then I will have to leave you," said Crivòliu.
The fisherman's wife wept and lamented and would not let him go; but he would not be detained and wandered out into the wide world.
After he had wandered about a long time, he came one day to a lonely place where there was only an inn. He asked the hostess: "Tell me, good woman, is there a secret cave nearby?"
She answered: "Yes, I know such a cave and will take you to it."
Then Crivòliu took bread and a little pitcher of water with him and had the hostess show him the cave. It was some distance from the inn. Bushes covered the entrance. "Here I want to stay," he said and sent the hostess back. "I feel it is the best I can do." He then crept into the cave, put the bread and water on the ground, and many years passed, so many that his behind took root and he grew fast to the ground.
Now it happened that the Pope died at Rome, and a new one was to be chosen. The cardinals gathered and a white dove was let loose: for the one she alighted on was to be next Pope. The white dove made several circles in the air, but alighted on none of the cardinals. All the archbishops and bishops were summoned, but the dove did not settle on any of them either. Then all the priests, monks and hermits were gathered, but the white dove would not choose any of them. The people were in great despair, and the cardinals had to wander about and search the whole country to see whether they could find another hermit. A crowd of people accompanied them.
At last they came to the inn in the lonely neighbourhood and asked the hostess if she knew of any hermit who was yet unknown to the world. Sheanswered: "Many years ago a sorrowful youth came here and made me take him to a cave. He took with him only some bread and a pitcher of water."
The cardinals said: "We will see whether he is still alive; take us to him."
Then the hostess led them to the cave. The entrance was by now so overgrown with brambles that the attendants had to cut away the brambles and bushes with axes before anyone could enter.
After they had forced their way in, they saw Crivòliu sitting in the cave. His beard had grown so long that it touched the ground. In front of him lay the bread, and by it the pitcher of water; for he had not eaten or drunken yet.
When they let the white dove loose now, it flew about in a circle for a moment and then alighted on the head of Crivòliu. Then the cardinals begged him to come with them and be their Pope. As they were going to raise him up, they noticed that his buttocks had grown fast.
"I get good food from the soil through these roots," he said, but they still felt for cutting them off. So they did. It went well. Then they took him to Rome with them and he was made Pope.
Now it happened that at the same time the sister who got him, said to her brother: "Dear brother, when we were young, we got a child that we let drift away. We have not yet confessed it wisely. I think the Pope alone can absolve us from it. Let us go to Rome, then, before death overtakes us, and confess our sin to him."
So they started on their journey to Rome, and when they arrived there they entered the church where the Pope sat behind a curtain in a small, enclosed stall to listen to confessions.
When they had confessed the Pope said: "Hm, I figure I am your son, for I was found in a box that was drifting at sea, you see. Your sin are amply forgiven you. Stay with me and live in comfort here."
They remained with him and had a good life also.
There was once a king and queen who had no children, and who longed to have a son or daughter. The queen prayed to St. James of Galicia, and said: "O St. James! if you will grant me a son, he shall make a pilgrimage to your shrine when he is eighteen years old." After a time the queen had, through the favor of God and the saint, a beautiful boy who was as handsome as if God had made him. The child grew rapidly and became larger and fairer every day. When he was twelve years old, the king died, and the queen remained alone with this son, whom she loved as dearly as her eyes. Many years passed and the time drew near when the prince should be eighteen. When the queen thought that she must soon part from him to send him alone on the long pilgrimage, she became very sorrowful and wept and sighed the whole day.
One day the prince said to her: "Mother, why do you sigh all day?"
"It is nothing, my son, only some cares of mine," she answered. "What are you concerned about?" asked he. "Are you afraid that your farms in the Plain (of }203] Catania) are badly tilled? Let me go and look after them and bring you news of them." The queen consented and the prince rode to the Plain, to the property that belonged to them. He found everything in good order, and returned to his mother and said: "Dear mother, rejoice, and cease your care, for everything is going well on your property; the cattle are thriving; the fields are tilled, and the grain will soon be ripe."
"Very well, my son," answered the queen, but she was not cheerful, and the next day began to sigh and weep again. Then the prince said to her: "Dear mother, if you do not tell me why you are so sad, I will depart, and wander out in the wide world." The queen answered: "Ah, my dear son, I am sad because you must now part from me. For before you were born, when I longed for you so much, I vowed to St. James of Galicia, that if he would grant you to me, you should make a pilgrimage to his shrine when you were eighteen years old. And now you will soon be eighteen, and I am sad because you must wander away alone, and be gone so many years; for to reach the saint, one must journey a whole year."
"Is it nothing but that, dear mother?" asked her son. "Be not so sorrowful. Only the dead return not. If I live, I will soon come back to you."
So he comforted his mother, and when he was eighteen he took leave of the queen, and said: "Now farewell, dear mother, and, God willing, we shall meet again." The queen wept bitterly, and embraced him with many tears; then she gave him three apples, and said: "My son, take these three apples and give heed to my words. You shall not make the long journey alone. When, however, a youth joins you and wishes to accompany you, take him with you to the inn, and let him eat with you. After the meal cut an apple in two halves, one large and the other small, and offer them to the young man. If he takes the larger half, part from him, for he will be no true friend to you; but if he takes the smaller half, regard him as your brother, and share everything that you have with him." After these words she embraced her son and blessed him, and the prince departed. }204]
He had already travelled a long time, and no one had met him. One day, however, he saw a youth coming along the road who joined him and asked: "Where are you going, handsome youth?"
"I am making a pilgrimage to St. James of Galicia;" and he told him of his mother's vow. "I must go there, too," said the other, "for the same thing happened to my mother as to yours; if we have the same journey to make, we can make it together." They continued their journey together, but the prince was not confidential towards his companion, for he thought: "I must first make the trial with the apple."
As they were passing an inn, the prince said: "I am hungry: shall we not have something to eat?" The other was willing, so they went in and ate together. After they had eaten, the prince took out the apple, cut it in two unequal halves, and offered them to the other, who took the larger half. "You are no true friend," thought the prince; and to get rid of him, he pretended to be ill, and obliged to remain there. The other said: "I cannot wait for you, for I have far to go yet; so farewell."
"Farewell," said the prince, and was glad to be rid of him.
When he continued his journey again, he thought: "Ah, if God would only send me a true friend, so that I should not have to travel alone!"
Not long after, another youth joined him and asked: "Handsome young man, where are you going?" The prince answered him as he had done before, and everything happened the same as with the first young man. After the prince had got rid of him he resumed his journey and thought: "O God, let me find a true friend who shall be to me a brother on the long journey!" While he was uttering this prayer he saw a youth coming along the way, who was a handsome lad, and appeared so friendly that he liked him at once, and thought: "Ah, may this be the true friend!" The youth joined him, and everything passed as before, except that this time the youth took the smaller half of the apple, and the prince rejoiced that he had found a true friend. "Fair youth," said he to him, "we must consider }205] ourselves as brothers now; what is mine shall be yours also, and what is yours, shall be mine. We will travel together, until we come to the shrine of the saint; and if one of us dies on the way, the other must carry his body there. We will both promise this." They did so, and regarded each other as brothers, and continued their journey together.
To reach the shrine of the saint requires a whole year; imagine, then, how long the two must travel. One day when they came, weary and exhausted, to a large, beautiful city, they said: "We will stay here and rest a few days, and afterwards continue our journey." So they took a small house, and dwelt in it. Now opposite it was the royal palace, and one morning as the king was standing on the balcony, he saw the two handsome youths, and thought: "Oh! how handsome these two youths are! one is, however, much handsomer than the other. I will give him my daughter in marriage." Now the prince was the handsomer of the two. In order to attain his aim, the king invited them both to dinner, and when they came to the palace received them in a very friendly manner and had his daughter called, who was more beautiful than the sun and moon. When they retired for the night, the king had a poisonous drink given to the prince's companion, who fell down dead; for the king thought: "If his friend dies, the other will remain here willingly, and think no more of his pilgrimage, but marry my daughter."
The next morning, when the prince awoke, he asked: "Where is my friend?"
"He died suddenly last night, and is to be buried at once," answered the servants. The prince said: "If my friend is dead, I cannot remain here longer, but must depart this very hour."
"Ah! do remain here," begged the king. "I will give you my daughter for your wife."
"No," said the prince, "I cannot stay here. If you will grant me a wish, give me a horse, and let me depart in peace; and when I have completed my pilgrimage, I will return and marry your daughter." The king then gave him a horse, which the prince mounted, and took his dead friend before him on the saddle, and thus completed his }206] journey. The young man, however, was not dead, but lay only in a deep sleep.
When the prince reached the shrine of St. James of Galicia, he dismounted, took his friend in his arms like a child, and entered the church and laid the body on the steps of the altar before the saint, and prayed: "O St. James of Galicia! behold, I have kept my vow. I have come to you and have brought you my friend, also. I confide him now to you; if you will restore him to life, we will laud your mercy; but if he is not to come to life again, he has at least kept his vow." And behold, while he was still praying, his dead friend rose, and became again alive and well. Both thanked the saint, and gave him costly presents, and then started on their journey home.
When they reached the city where the king lived, they occupied again the little house opposite the royal palace. The king was greatly rejoiced to see the handsome prince there again, and much handsomer than before; he arranged great festivities, and had a splendid marriage celebrated, and thus the prince married the fair princess. After the wedding they remained several months with her father, and then the prince said: "My mother is expecting me at home with great anxiety; therefore I cannot stay longer here, but will return to my mother with my wife and my friend." The king consented and they prepared for the journey.
Now the king had a deadly hatred against the poor, innocent youth, to whom he had before given the fatal drink, and who had nevertheless returned alive, and in order to cause him sorrow, he sent him in great haste on the morning of the departure into the country with an errand. "Hasten," he said. "Your friend will not start until you return." The youth hastened away, without taking leave, and performed the king's errand. The king, meanwhile, said to the prince: "Hasten your departure, otherwise you cannot reach your quarters for the night before evening."
"I cannot depart without my friend," answered the prince. The king, however, said: "Set out on your journey; he will be here within an hour, and will soon overtake you on his }207] swift horse." The prince allowed himself to be persuaded, took leave of his father-in-law, and departed with his wife. The poor friend could not fulfil the king's commission before several hours, and when he finally returned, the king said to him: "Your friend is already far from here; see how you can overtake him."
So the poor youth had to leave the palace, and did not even receive a horse, and began to run, and ran day and night until he overtook the prince. From his great exertions, however, he contracted leprosy, so that he looked ill, wretched, and dreadful. The prince, nevertheless, received him in a friendly manner and cared for him like a brother.
They finally reached home, where the queen had awaited her son with great anxiety, and now embraced him with perfect joy. The prince had a bed prepared at once for his sick friend and summoned all the physicians of the town and state, but no one could help him. When the poor youth grew no better the prince addressed himself to St. James of Galicia and said: "O St. James of Galicia! you raised my friend from the dead; help him now this time also, and let him recover from his leprosy." While he was praying, a servant entered and said: "A strange physician is without, who will make the poor youth well again." This physician was St. James of Galicia himself, who had heard the prayer of the prince and had come to help his friend. You must know now that the prince's wife had had a little girl who was a pretty, lovely child.
When the saint approached the bed of the sick youth, he first examined him, and then said to the prince: "Do you really wish to see your friend well again at any price?"
"At any price," answered the prince; "only tell me what can help him."
"This evening, take your child," said the saint, "open all her veins, and anoint with her blood your friend's wounds, and he will be healed at once."
The prince was horrified when he heard that he himself must kill his dear little daughter, but he answered: "I have promised my friend to treat him like my brother; and if there is no other remedy, I will sacrifice my child." }208]
At evening he took the child and opened her veins and anointed with the blood the sores of the sick youth, who was at once cleansed from his foul leprosy. The child became pale and weak, and looked as if it were dead. Then they laid it in its cradle and the poor parents were deeply grieved, for they believed they had lost their child.
The next morning the physician came and asked after the patient. "He is well and sound," answered the prince. "And where have you put your child?" asked the saint. "There it lies dead in its cradle," said the poor father, sadly. "Just look at her once and see how she is," said the saint; and when they hastened to the cradle, they saw the child in it alive and well again. Then the saint said: "I am St. James of Galicia, and have come to help you, because I have seen what true friendship you have displayed. Continue to love one another, and when you are in trouble turn to me and I will come to your aid." With these words he blessed them and disappeared from their sight. They lived piously and did much good to the poor, and were happy and contented.
[Gonzenbach, No. 90.]
There are several interesting legends found only in Gonzenbach's collection. They can be mentioned but briefly here. The first (No. 87) is entitled:
Two huntsmen lost their way in a wood and found at night a hut in which was a table set for supper, and a fire which emitted a heavenly odor. They examined it and found in the coals a heart, which they took with them when they departed, the next morning. After they had travelled a while, they stopped at an inn, and the pious and virtuous daughter of the innkeeper waited on them, and noticed the odor which came from the jacket that one of the huntsmen had laid aside on account of the heat. In the pocket she found the heart, which she kept for a time on a table in her room. One day she was seized with a great longing to eat it. She did so, and it soon was evident that she was about to become a mother. Her father treated her cruelly, for the shame she was going to }209] bring on the family, but her godmother interfered, and one night had a strange dream. There appeared to her a saint, who said: "I am St. Onirià, and was consumed by fire. Only my heart was left, so that I might be born again. This heart the host's daughter has eaten, and she will, in due time, give birth to me." The child was born as predicted, and grew handsomer every day. The grandfather, however, could not endure him, and ill-treated him as well as his mother.
One day, when the child was five years old, the grandfather took him to the city. On the way they passed a place where there was much filth, and the child said to his grandfather: "I wish you might wallow in it." Afterwards they saw a poor man being carried to the grave on a ladder, without any coffin. The child here wished that his grandfather, when he died, might be like this one. Next they met the long funeral procession of a rich man, and the child wished that his grandfather might not be like this rich man. The grandfather, of course, in each case was very angry, and was only restrained from beating the child by the mother's godfather, who had accompanied them.
After they had finished their business in the city they set out for home; and when they came to the spot where they had met the rich man's funeral procession, the child made his grandfather put his ear to the ground, when he heard a great noise, as if of iron pestles and lamentations. The child explained that what he heard were the devils tormenting the rich man's soul. When they came where they had seen the poor man on the ladder, the grandfather listened again and heard the rejoicings of the angels on receiving the poor man's soul.
When they came to the place where the filth was, the child made his grandfather dig and find a pot of money which he told him to use better than he had done his own. The child then said he was St. Onirià, exculpated his mother, and said his grandfather would see him again when the dead spoke with the living. Then he was taken up into heaven. }210]
Years after, two men spent the night in the inn, and one murdered the other and hid the body under the straw, where it was afterwards found by other travellers, and the innkeeper accused of the murder. He was condemned and was on the scaffold when a beautiful youth came riding in hot haste, crying: "Pardon!" The youth led the people into the church, before the coffin of the murdered man, and cried: "Rise, dead one, and speak with the living, and tell us who murdered you." The dead man replied: "The innkeeper is innocent; my treacherous companion killed me." Then the youth accompanied the innkeeper home, revealed himself as St. Onirià, blessed them, and disappeared.
has as its subject the mystery of God's Providence, and is familiar to English readers in the form of Parnell's Hermit. The substance of the Sicilian version is as follows: A hermit sees a man wrongfully accused of theft and shockingly maltreated. He thereupon concludes that God is unjust to suffer such things, and determines to return to the world. On his way back a handsome youth meets him and they journey together. A muleteer allows them to ride his beasts, and in return the youth abstracts the muleteer's money from his wallet and drops it in the road. A woman who keeps an inn receives them hospitably, and on leaving the next morning, the youth strangles her child in the cradle. All at once the youth becomes a shining angel, and says to the hermit: "Listen to me, O man who has been bold enough to murmur against God's decrees;" and then explains that the person who had been wrongfully accused of theft had years before murdered his father on that very spot; the muleteer's money was stolen money, and the child of the hostess, had it lived, would have become a robber and murderer. Then the angel says: "Now you see that God's justice is more far-sighted than man's. Return, then, to your hermitage, and repent if so be that your murmuring be forgiven you." The angel disappears and the hermit returns to his mountain, does severer penance, and dies a saint. }211]
is nothing but the story of Joseph and his Brethren, taken from the Bible. In the Sicilian version Joseph has only three brothers; otherwise the story follows the account in Genesis very closely. Another legend in the same collection (No. 89), "The Story of Tobià and Tobiòla," is the story of Tobit and Tobias, taken from the apocryphal book of Tobit. The Sicilian story differs in the names only.
There are several other Sicilian legends the heroes of which are pious, simple youths, the religious counterparts of Giufà. One (Pitrè, No. 112), called "The Poor Boy," tells the story of a simple youth who asked the priest the way to paradise, and was told he must follow the strait and narrow way. He took the first one he came to, and reached a convent church during a festival, and imagined he had reached paradise. He was found in the church when all had departed; but he persisted in remaining, and the superior sent him a bowl of soup, which he put on the altar; and when he was alone he began to converse confidentially with the Lord on the crucifix, and said: "Lord, who put you on the cross?"
"Your sins!" and so the Lord responded to all his questions. The youth, in tears, promised he would sin no more, and invited the Lord to descend and partake of his repast with him. The Lord did so, and commanded him to tell the monks in the convent that they would be damned unless they sold all their property and bestowed it on the poor. If they would do so and come and confess to the Lord himself, he would hear their confession and give them the communion, and when it was finished they would all die, one after the other, and enter the glory of paradise. The poor youth went to the superior and gave him the Lord's message. The superior sold the property of the convent, and everything turned out as the Lord had said. The monks all confessed and died, and all who were present or heard of the event were converted and died in the grace of God.
This legend leads quite naturally to another, in which intercourse with the other world is represented as still occasionally }212] permitted to mortals. It is found only in Sicily, having, curiously enough, parallels in the rest of Europe, but none in Italy. It is called:
There was once a baker who every morning loaded an ounceworth of bread on a horse that came to his shop. One day he said: "I give this ounceworth of bread to this horse and he renders me no account of it." Then he said to his apprentice: "Vincenzo, the horse will come tomorrow and I will give him the bread, but you must follow him and see where he goes." The next day the horse came and the baker loaded him, and gave the apprentice a piece of bread for himself. Vincenzo followed the horse, and after a while came to a river of milk, and began to eat bread and milk, and could not overtake the horse again. He then returned to his master, who, seeing him return to no purpose, said: "Tomorrow the horse will come again; if you cannot tell me where he goes I will no longer have you for my apprentice." The next day the apprentice followed the horse again, and came to a river of wine, and began to eat bread and wine, and lost sight of the horse. He returned to his master in despair at having lost the horse. His master said: "Listen. The first time, one pardons; the second time, one condones; the third time, one beats. If tomorrow you do not follow the horse I will give you a good thrashing and send you home." What did poor Vincenzo do? He followed the horse the next day with his eyes open. After a while he came to a river of oil. "What shall I do? the horse will get away from me now!" So he tied the horse's reins to his girdle and began to eat bread and oil. The horse pulled, but Vincenzo said: "When I finish the bread I will come." When he had finished the bread he followed the horse, and after a time he came to a cattle-farm where the grass was long and thick and the cattle so thin that they could scarcely stand on their feet. Vincenzo was astonished at seeing the grass so long and }213] the cattle so lean. Then he came to another farm, and saw that the grass was dry and short, and the cattle fatter than you can believe. He said to himself: "Just see! There, where the grass was long, the cattle were lean; here, where you can hardly see the grass, the cattle are so fat!" The horse kept on, and Vincenzo after him. After a while he met a sow with her tail full of large knots, and wondered why she had such a tail. Farther on he came to a watering-trough, where there was a toad trying to reach a crumb of bread, and could not. Vincenzo continued his way, and arrived at a large gate. The horse knocked at the gate with his head, and the door opened and a beautiful lady appeared, who said she was the Madonna. When she saw the youth she asked: "And what are you here for?" Vincenzo replied: "This horse comes constantly to my master's to get an ounceworth of bread, and my master never has been able to find out where he carries it."
"Very well; enter," said the lady; "I will show you where he carries it." Then the lady began to call all the souls in purgatory: "My children, come hither!" The souls then descended; and to some she gave the worth of a grano of bread, to some the worth of a baiocco, and to others the worth of five grani, and the bread was gone in a moment. When the bread had disappeared, the lady said to Vincenzo: "Did you see nothing on your way?"
"Yes, lady. The first day that my master sent me to see where the horse went, I saw a river of milk." The lady said: "That is the milk I gave my son."
"The second day I saw a river of wine."
"That," said the lady, "is the wine with which my son was consecrated."
"The third day I saw a river of oil."
"That is the oil that they ask of me and of my son. What else did you see the third day?"
"I saw," answered Vincenzo, "a farm with cattle. There was plenty of grass, but the cattle were lean. Afterwards I saw another farm, where you could scarcely see the grass, and the cattle were fine and fat."
"These, my son, are the rich, who are in the midst of wealth; and no matter how much they eat, it does no good; and the fat ones, that have no grass to eat, }214] are the poor, for my son supports and fattens them. What else did you see?"
"I saw a sow with her tail full of knots."
"That, my son, is those who repeat their rosaries and do not offer their prayers to me or to my son; and my son makes knots in them."
"I also saw a watering-trough, with a toad that was reaching after a crumb of bread, and could not get it." She said: "A poor person asked a woman for a bit of bread, and she gave his hand such a blow that she made him drop it. And what else did you see, my son?"
"Then come with me, and I will show you something else." She took him by the hand and led him into hell. When the poor youth heard the clanking of chains and saw the darkness, he came near dying, and wanted to get out. "You see," said the lady, "those who are lamenting and in chains and darkness are those who are in mortal sin. Now come, and I will take you to purgatory." There they heard nothing, and the darkness was so great that they could see nothing. Vincenzo wished to depart, for he felt oppressed by anguish. "Now," said the lady, "I will take you to the church of the Holy Fathers. Do you see it, my son? This is the church of the Holy Fathers, which first was full and now is empty. Come; now I will take you to limbo. Do you see these little ones? These are those who died unbaptized." The lady wished to show him paradise; but he was too confused, so the lady made him look through a window. "Do you see this great palace? There are three seats there; one for you, one for your master, and one for your mistress." After this she took him to the gate. The horse was no longer there. "Now," said Vincenzo, "how shall I find my way back? I will follow the tracks of the horse, and so will get home." The lady answered: "Close your eyes!" Vincenzo closed his eyes, and found himself behind his master's door. When he entered he told all that had occurred to his master and mistress. When he had finished his story all three died and went to paradise.