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Lord, St. Peter, and the Blacksmith, The

The last anecdote is quite popular, and is found in a number of popular stories, as well as in the Cento Novelle Antiche [1]. A very amusing version is from Venice (Widter-Wolf, No. 5), and is entitled:


IN A little town about as large as Sehio or Thiene once lived a master-smith,--a good, industrious, and skilful man, but so proud of his skill that he would not deign to reply to anyone who did not address him as "Professor." This pride in a man otherwise so blameless gave universal dissatisfaction. One day our Lord appeared in the blacksmith's shop, accompanied by St. Peter, whom He was always in the habit of taking with Him on such excursions. "Professor," said the Lord, "will you be so good as to permit me to do a little work at your forge?" "Why not? it is at your service," replied the flattered smith. "What do you wish to make?" "That you will soon see," said the Lord, and took up a pair of tongs, with which he seized Peter and held him in the forge until he was red-hot. Then he drew him out and hammered him on all sides, and in less than ten minutes the old bald-headed apostle was forged anew into a wonderfully handsome youth with beautiful hair. The blacksmith stood speechless with astonishment, while the Lord and St. Peter exchanged the most courteous thanks and compliments. Finally the master-smith recovered himself and ran straight up to the second story, where his sick old father lay in bed. "Father," he cried, "come quickly! I have just learned how to make a strong young man of you." "My son, have you lost your senses?" said the old man, half terrified. "No; only believe me. I have just seen it myself." Finding that the old man protested against the attempt, his son seized him forcibly, carried him to the shop, and in spite of his shrieks and entreaties, thrust him into the forge, but brought nothing out but a piece of charred leg, which fell to pieces at the first blow of the hammer. Then he was seized with anguish and remorse. He ran quickly in search of the two men, and fortunately found them in the market-place. "Sir," he cried, "what have you done? You have misled me. I wanted to imitate your skill, and I have burned my father alive! Come with me quickly, and help me, if you can!" Then the Lord smiled graciously, and said: "Go home comforted. You will find your father alive and well, but an old man again." And so he did find him, to his great joy. From that time his pride disappeared, and whenever any one called him "Professor" he would exclaim: "Ah, what folly that is! There are gentlemen in Venice and professors in Padua, but I am a bungler."

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               The version in Knust is different. It is called "A Journey of Our Saviour on Earth," and is, in substance, as follows: A father whose son is a gambler, makes him become a soldier. The son deserts during a stormy night and takes refuge in an inn. There he meets a man who seems acquainted with his whole life and whose name is Salvatore (Saviour). He knows that Peter has deserted and is pursued, but he will save him. To gain a livelihood, he proposes to him to travel together and heal the sick. An opportunity to do this is soon offered. A rich man is ill, and Salvatore promises to heal him in three days. He makes every one withdraw, prepares a potion from herbs, and cures the patient. The relatives of the rich man offer in their gratitude all manner of costly things to Salvatore, who, however, accepts only enough to support life. Such an unreasonable proceeding enrages his companion to such a degree that he parts from him. He wishes to cure people independently, and promises a king to heal his sick daughter at once. But although he does everything exactly like Salvatore, the only effect of the potion is to kill the princess. As soon as the king learns this, he has Peter thrown into prison. On his way there he meets Salvatore, who is ready to help him at his request. The latter goes to the king and promises to raise his daughter if he will release to him the prisoner. The king consents, but threatens Salvatore with death in case of failure. The dead, however, comes to life, and in gratitude offers her hand, through her father, to Salvatore, who declares that it is his vocation to wander over the earth. He asks that the maiden be given to his companion. [2]


[1] It is the LXXV. novel of the Testo Gualteruzzi (Biagi, p. 108): Qui conta come Domeneddio s' accompagnò con un giullare. The Lord once went in company with a jester. One day the former went to a funeral, and the latter to a marriage. The Lord called the dead to life again, and was richly rewarded. He gave the jester some of the money with which he bought a kid, roasted it and ate the kidneys himself. His companion asked where they were, and the jester answered that in that country the kids had none. The next time the Lord went to a wedding and the jester to a funeral, but he could not revive the dead, and was considered a deceiver, and condemned to the gallows. The Lord wished to know who ate the kidneys, but the other persisted in his former answer; but in spite of this the Lord raises the dead, and the jester is set at liberty. Then the Lord said he wished to dissolve their partnership, and made three piles of money, one for himself, another for the jester, and the third for the one who ate the kidneys. Then the jester said: "By my faith, now that you speak thus, I will tell you that I ate them; I am so old that I ought not to tell lies now." So some things are proved by money, which a man would not tell to escape from death. For the sources and imitations of this story see D'Ancona, Le Fonti del Novellino, in the Romania, No. 10, p. 180, (Studj, p. 333). To D'Ancona's references may be added the following: Grimm, 147, "The Old Man made young again"; Asbjørnsen and Moe, No. 21 [Dasent, Pop. Tales, No. XIV.], Ny Samm. No. 101 [Dasent, Tales from the Fjeld, p. 94, "Peik"]; Ralston, R. F. T. p. 350; Simrock's Deutsche Märchen, Nos. 31^b (p. 148), 32; Romania, No. 24, p. 578, "Le Foie de Mouton" (E. Cosquin, Contes pop. lorrains, No. 30); Brueyre, p. 330; and an Italian version, which is simply an amplification of the one in the Cento nov. ant., in the recently published Sessanta Nov. pop. montalesi, Nerucci, No. 31.

[2] See Jahrbuch, VII. pp. 28, 396. The professional pride of the smith finds a parallel in an Irish story in Kennedy, "How St. Eloi was punished for the sin of Pride." Before the saint became religious he was a goldsmith, but sometimes amused himself by shoeing horses, and boasted that he had never found his master in anything. One day a stranger stopped at his forge and asked permission to shoe his horse. Eloi consented, and was very much surprised to see the stranger break off the horse's leg at the shoulder, carry it into the smithy and shoe it. Then the stranger put on again the horse's leg, and asked Eloi if he knew any one who could do such a good piece of work. Eloi tries himself, and fails miserably. The stranger, who is Eloi's guardian angel, cures the horse, reproves the smith for his pride, and disappears. See Brueyre, p. 329, and Bladé, Agenais, p. 61, and Köhler's notes, p. 157.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Lord, St. Peter, and the Blacksmith, The
Tale Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas
Book Title: Italian Popular Tales
Book Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas Frederick
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin and Company
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1885
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: ATU 753: Christ and the Smith

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