Friday, May 28, 2004



Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), II, 495-6 (tr. S.G.C. Middlemore):
In 1487, when Piacenza was visited with a violent and prolonged rainfall, it was said that there would be no dry weather until a certain usurer, who had been lately buried at S. Francesco, had ceased to rest in consecrated earth. As the bishop was not obliging enough to have the corpse dug up, the young fellows of the town took it by force, dragged it around the streets amid frightful confusion, offered it to be insulted and maltreated by former creditors, and at last threw it into the Po. Even Politian accepted this point of view in speaking of Giacomo Pazzi, one of the leaders of the conspiracy of 1478 in Florence which is called after his name. When he was put to death he devoted his soul to Satan with fearful words. Here, too, rain followed and threatened to ruin the harvest; here, too, a party of men, mostly peasants, dug up the body in the church, and immediately the clouds departed and the sun shone -- "so gracious was fortune to the opinion of the people," adds the great scholar. The corpse was first cast into unhallowed ground, the next day again dug up, and after a horrible procession through the city thrown into the Arno.
Burckhardt comments:
These facts and the like bear a popular character, and might have occurred in the tenth just as well as in the sixteenth century.
They might have occurred in the twenty-first century as well. According to a recent news story from Marotinu De Sus in southern Romania, vampire slayer Gheorghe Marinescu was arrested for exhuming the body of his brother-in-law, Toma Petre:
Marinescu's story goes like this: After Petre died, Marinescu's son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter fell ill. Marinescu knew the cause was his dead brother-in-law. So he went to the cemetery...

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