But to judge by the number of priests and
the daily hordes of devout and dirty pilgrims that pour into the town
from the fanatical fastnesses of the Abruzzi - picturesque, I suppose we
should call them - the country is sufficiently orthodox. Every
self-respecting family, they tell me, has its pet priest, who lives on
them in return for spiritual consolations.
There was a religious festival some nights ago in honour of Saint
Espedito. No one could tell me more about this holy man than that he was
a kind of pilgrim-warrior, and that his cult here is of recent date; it
was imported or manufactured some four years ago by a rich merchant who,
tired of the old local saints, built a church in honour of this new one,
and thereby enrolled him among the city gods.
On this occasion the square was seething with people: few
women, and the men mostly in dark clothes; we are already under Moorish
and Spanish influences. A young boy addressed me with the polite
question whether I could tell him the precise number of the population
That depended, I said, on what one described as London. There was what
they called greater London -
It depended! That was what he had always been given to understand. . . .
And how did I like Lucera? Rather a dull little place, was it not?
Nothing like Paris, of course.