Legends and Stories of Italy - Amy Steedman
This book contains many popular legends and saint stories of Italy, from the time of the Romans to the middle ages. It includes many legends of the Madonna and Gesu Bambino, including the Christmas Rose. Saint Stories include that of Mark and the Fisherman, Domenia the Consuls wife, Flavia, Diavola, and the little Countess.
"I want a hidden pearl story to-day," said the child.
"What kind of a story is that?" asked the saint. She was a real saint, although every one could not see the golden halo that shone round her dear head.
"One of the old stories which you say are like the common shells that have a pearl hidden inside," answered the child.
"Ah, then you must listen with your heart as well as your ears," said the saint, "or you will not find the pearl. Mother Earth takes care to hide away her gold and precious stones deep down in the earth. The diver, too, must seek in the depths of the sea before he gathers the rough shells in which the shining pearls lie hid. So it is with the hidden treasure which lies wrapped up in these old legends and stories. Those who would find it must seek carefully and patiently, for only thus can it be found. For just as the sweet green grass and common flowers cover the earth where treasure lies hid, just as the rough shell holds in its heart the soft, shining pearl, so these stories may seem at first but simple, common tales, but those who look beneath will find at the heart of them a living truth more precious than gold or shining pearls."
"I will listen carefully," said the child, "but I love even the rough shells of your pearl stories."