According to my hero, Giuseppe Tassini, the palazzo shown below right once hosted a devil in the form of a monkey-butler. The simian Satan was outed and cast out by a clever Franciscan monk.
|Ca' Soranzo de l'Anzolo
At that time, the palazzo belonged to Iseppo Pasini, lawyer of the Ducal Curia. This man was well known for his grasping and unscrupulous ways, by which he had earned hugely. Nevertheless, he pretended to great piety. So he invited the celebrated preacher to dinner at his elegant home. Before proceeding to table, Pasini told Father Matteo that he had in his home a most extraordinary and highly skilled monkey. This unusual servant had full command of his domestic matters.
da Bascio, courtesy
of Wikimedia Commons
The monkey replied, ‘I am the devil. I have brought myself here to take away the soul of this lawyer, which is owed to me on account of many sins.'
Father Matteo continued, ‘And why, therefore, being so hungry for his soul, have you not yet killed him, and brought back with you to hell?’
‘Only because, before going to bed, the lawyer always prays to God and the Virgin. If he had only once omitted his usual prayer, I could have without delay carried him to eternal torment.’
Hearing this, Father Matteo hastened to command the enemy of God to leave the house immediately. The monkey informed him that he had his own instructions: he might not leave this dishonoured house without doing some kind of damage.
‘Very well,’ said Father Matteo. ‘You may do some damage, but only what I shall prescribe you, and no more! You will leave via this wall, and the resulting hole will serve as testimony to what has happened here.’
The devil obeyed. Father Matteo, sitting down dinner with the lawyer, made him review his past life. Finally, picking up a corner of the tablecloth, he twisted it. Miraculously, copious quantities of blood flowed out. ‘This,’ said Father Matteo sternly, ‘is the blood of the poor whom you exsanguinated with so many unjust extortions.’
The lawyer repented and lamented his crimes, and warmly thanked the Capuchin for leading him back to grace. But when he saw the hole left by the devil, he declared that he could not be free of fear if his proud adversary remained free. But Father Matteo was reassuring, commanding him to place the image of an angel in that hole, as any fallen angels (like the devil) would flee from a saintly one.
Michelle Lovric's website
Image of the devilish monkey above courtesy of Wellcome Images: a monkey holding a clyster in an apothecary's shop; satirizing physicians who gave enemas to ladies. (How much more devilish does a monkey need to be?) Engraving by F. Basan after D. Teniers the Younger.