Monday, April 4, 2011

Amanuensis Monday -- Nonno Enzo's Diary -- November 9 and 11, 1915

Fourth installment of the translation of my grandfather's diary written in Sicily during the school year of 1915-1916.  He was nearly 15 when he wrote these entries.  Previous entries found here: one, two, and three.

To the left is a picture of my grandfather when he was somewhere between 18 and 20 years old.  He was a "novice" in the Salesian Order of the Priesthood.  He never took his final vows.  I guess that is obvious, since I exist:).

Translation below

                                                                                                                    November 9

This morning, Mass was officiated by Don Bartolo -- parish of San Gregorio -- a man about eighty or more. Altar-serving was performed by Riccieri, one of the novices who assisted the old man since he could not climb the steps of the altar by himself.

Mass was without communion because we'd had it earlier, and it lasted about 50 minutes.

                                                                                                                    November 11, Thursday

Today, we went for a walk.

The sky seemed clear enough, although a wind blew impetuously, raising dust into the air and banging it furiously against our faces. Our hats flew right and left along with our great laughter.

I talked with Putrino, a strong boy of excellent quality, and Torrisi -- also gifted with some virtues of his own. He isn't a bad person, but not that likeable either; in the eyes of society, he manages to fit in, however. He can do a sudden about-face and be generous when it is in his self-interest.

We talked about our families and the great sorrow this war has caused to every single one, as well as other discussions about family.  Finally, after three quarters of an hour walking, we came to a fountain where we drank its water.

Then began a great conversation about a famous bandit known by the name of Dionisio. There exists even now a cave where he used to hide to attack the poor travelers heading to Catania or Acireale.  He was never caught in the act of his major thefts, and he continued his disgraceful craft.

But then one evening, a poor traveler commended to Our Lady, went through the terrible path. Dionisio assaulted the poor man, who did not have even a penny to give, and the bandit brandished a knife, about to kill him, when as the blade glistened in the pale moonlight there appeared Our Lady of Valverde saying: Dionisio, what are you doing?

This apparition caused him to step back and leave the poor and unfortunate wayfarer in order to return to the cave. The words, "Dionisio, what are you doing?" replayed in his mind.

Little by little, the bandit reviewed his great faults until he gave up his life as a robber. Our Lady appeared to him a second time asking him to build a church, and the next day there was the form of a circle around the location.

A third time, she appeared to give him a rod from which to raise a fountain where water could be drawn. The fountain in front of the cave still exists, and it is where we had stopped to quench our thirst.

Dionisio fulfilled his mission and became a monk who died in God's grace.

We continued our walk for several more kilometers and then headed back to the boarding school.


  1. I like his description of Torrisi. Funny! Also, his story of Dionisio is quite interesting. Your grandfather was quite talented with description. :-)

  2. Your blog is always well written and interesting. I've decided to award you with 'One Lovely Blog award.' YOu'll have to give me a few days to cordinate it all together into my blog post.