Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/132

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feet, and the legend goes that he who kissed the hand of St Dominic never afterwards committed sin. In many countries, more especially in Southern Italy, kissing the hands of the priest is still customary.

The kiss reverential was extended to everything that was holy, or had been consecrated to sacred purposes.

People kissed the Cross with the image of the Crucified, and such kissing of the Cross is always regarded as a particularly holy act. In many countries it is required, on taking an oath, as the highest asseveration that the witness is speaking the truth, and as a last act of charity, the image of the Redeemer is handed to the dying or death-condemned to be kissed. Kissing the Cross brings blessing and happiness. In the south of France people used formerly, in moments of difficulty or danger, when no Cross was at hand, to kiss their thumbs laid in the form of a cross. When devout Catholics salute the Pope by humbly kissing his slipper, they are fond of explaining away this greeting. They say that it is not to be taken as any personal homage paid to the Pope; the kiss having nothing to do with his slipper, but the cross