Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/414

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


said tliem, wander till, in some ruined altar of an abandoned sanctuary with black candle and Missal topsy-turvy, they have fulfilled their obligation. Those who have perversely neglected the precept of days of obligation wander till they have found means of hearing the weird masses so said. If any living person should chance to be there, and does not instantly cross himself and fly the first time the phantom priest at the Dominus vohiscum turns his fleshless, rat-devoured face, he will die on the spot.

Chiaramonte supplies a touching and poetical superstition concerning the souls of unbaptised children. Mary sends an angel from heaven one day every week to play with them; when he goes away he takes with him in a golden chalice all the tears which these little innocents have shed all through the week, and pours them into the sea, where they become pearls. Page 31 details the various kinds of wandering spirits, and enumerates the celebrated ones. These are Simon Magus and Judas, who appear as spirits ; the Wandering Jew, Malchus, and Pilate, in human form. Page 34 gives curious narratives of ghosts which take the form of wine or oil skins, chairs, sticks, and all manner of utensils. One night late a man found what appeared to be a leathern bottle of oil in the street ; he naturally loaded it on to his back, but there was a ghost inside who presently whispered in his ear, " Posami chianu!" (let me down gently!) Far from complying, the man flung it down on the stones in a fury of haste, and made off at the top of his speed. Stories of haunted houses seem to abound.

Chapter 3 of this section treats of possessed persons. In Sicily people are thought not only to be possessed by malign spirits, but by the souls of those who cannot find rest. Those who give ear to the tradition are in continual fear of some spirit or other entering them by their open mouth, and are always making the sign of the Cross on their lips and using other incantations. Mi nni pigghiai centu milia (I have swallowed a hundred thousand spirits) has become a proverb to express a condition of terror. Stories are given, page 43, of a work- man so strong that no one could overcome him because he was pos- sessed by the spirit of Moses ; another by the spirit of Charlemagne ; of a woman who was possessed by the spirits of Enoch and Elias,