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Paul’s Pick: Nocturnal Journeys and Ritual Dances in Bernardino of Siena

Every month, Paul Chase in the Penn Press Journals department invites our blog readers to download a complimentary article from one of our many scholarly journals.

Magic Ritual and WitchcraftPaul's pick for September is "Nocturnal Journeys and Ritual Dances in Bernardino of Siena" by Michael Bailey at Iowa State University. The article appears in the latest issue of Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft. Bernardino, also known as Bernardine, was a Franciscan missionary who preached against witchcraft.

The Sienese friar followed his account of the witches of Rome, however, with another story featuring a nocturnal gathering that has proven more befuddling to scholars. This tale centered on a page in service to a Roman cardinal who was traveling south to Benevento at night. Along the way, he saw a group of people dancing in a field on a threshing floor. The sight initially filled him with fear, but eventually he approached and even joined in the dancing. The revelry lasted until the ringing of the matin bell, when the entire assembly vanished in an instant, except for one girl whom the page held fast despite her struggles. He took her home with him and kept her there for three years, during which time she never spoke a word, although somehow it was discovered that she came not from the region south of Rome but from ‘‘Schiavonia.’’

Click here to download this free article and learn more about Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft.

Check the Penn Press Log in October for Paul's next pick.