Italian Popular Tales
by Thomas Crane
Lord, St. Peter, and the Apostles
ONCE, while the Master was on a journey with the thirteen apostles, they came to a village where there was no bread. The Master said: "Peter, let each one of you carry a stone." They each took up a stone-St. Peter a little bit of a one. The others were all loaded down, but St. Peter went along very easily. The Master said: "Now let us go to another village. If there is any bread there, we shall buy it; if there is none, I will give you my blessing and the stones will become bread."
They went to another town, put the stones down, and rested. The Master gave them his blessing, and the stones became bread. St. Peter, who had carried a little one, felt his heart grow faint. "Master," he said, "how am I going to eat?" "Eh! My brother, why did you carry a little stone? The others, who loaded themselves down, have bread enough."
Then they went on, and the Master made them each carry another stone. St. Peter was cunning this time and took a large one and all the others carried small ones. The Lord said to the others: "Little ones, we will have a laugh at Peter's expense." They arrived at another village, and all the apostles threw away their stones because there was bread there; and St. Peter was bent double, for he had carried a paving-stone with him to no purpose.
On their journey they met a man; and as St. Peter was in advance of the others, he said: "The Lord is coming shortly; ask Him a favor for your soul." The man drew near and said: "Lord, my father is ill with old age. Cure him, Master." The Lord said: "Am I a physician? Do you know what you must do? Put him in a hot oven and your father will become a boy again." They did so, and his father became a little boy.
The idea pleased St. Peter, and when he found himself alone he went about seeking to make some old men young. By chance there met him one who was seeking the Master because his mother was at the point of death and he wanted her cured. St. Peter said: "What do you want?" "I want the Master, for I have an old mother who is very ill, and the Master alone can cure her." "Fortunately Peter is here! Do you know what you must do? Heat an oven and put her in it, and she will be cured." The poor man believed him, for he knew that the Lord loved St. Peter, so he went home and immediately put his mother in the hot oven. What more could you expect? The old woman was burned to a coal. "Ah! Santu di cca e di ddà!" cried the son; "that scurvy fellow has made me kill my mother!" He hastened to St. Peter. The Master was present, and when he heard the story could not control his laughter, and said: "Ah, Peter! what have you done?" St. Peter tried to excuse himself, but the poor man kept crying for his mother. What must the Master do? He had to go to the house of the dead, and with a blessing which he there pronounced he brought the old woman to life again, a beautiful young girl, and relieved St. Peter of his great embarrassment.
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THE LAST anecdote is quite popular, and is found in a number of popular stories, as well as in the Cento Novelle Antiche. A very amusing version is from Venice (Widter-Wolf, No. 5), and is entitled: