A Knife driven in for love of the dagger

By D.P.  (Domenico Pettinelli?)

Many of the usages and popular traditions of the Abruzzo region that date back to olden times are disappearing. Those which still survive today appear strange to many people who perhaps do not know that these bear witness to the continuity of past times with the present. The majority of the usages and traditions belonged to the world of the peasants, preoccupied with drought, with hail and with thunderstorms, feared as if they were a divine malediction sent to ruin the harvest after a year’s sacrifices and hard work. In the home, as a storm approached, whilst the church bells slowly rang out, people prayed to be spared the lightning and the storm by invoking help from Saint Barbara, Saint Vincenzo and Saint Emidio. They also took steps to burn at the windowsill of their windows the olive branch that had been blessed on Palm Sunday; to light the candle blessed on Candlemass; to throw the chain from the fireside (hearth) onto the road as if wanting to "chain up" the destructive thunderstorm. At Torricella Peligna the women used to drive in the knife in the middle of the house, reciting short prayers and invocations to the Saints, as if they wished to "kill" or "stop" the thunderstorm. In particular, at Torricella Peligna the peasants with the entire populace carried the statue of their protector, Saint Marziale, under the hill (maybe the one near to the "Plain") leaving it there until the hail storm stopped beating down on Saint Marziale if he had not known how or had not been able to make it go further away, whilst the faithful took refuge elsewhere. G. Finamore reported in 1861 that the statue of Saint Marziale placed on the hill to avert a storm, in addition to the hail was almost shot at by the Guards from Palena who were searching for Brigands. The Guards had mistaken the distant statue of saint Marziale, covered with its Roman cloaks, for a suspicious person, a ne’er-do-well, roaming the countryside as a "look-out" for the Brigands.

© Amici di Torricella

Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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