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The citizens of Bobbio were talking about a great news: “Colombano made a white mill, transparent and stunning. It seems made of ice!”

The Devil heard it and he went to check it together with the curious people; he really liked it so he told the monk: “If you want, I give you the grate I created, that no one else could ever imitate, in exchange for your mill.”

Many artisans tried to reproduce that grate, but nobody could ever understand the secret of the making of the knots, which were the fine and unique part of the grate. Colombano, who wanted it since a while, nodded and they close the deal. Right after came a warm wind and the mill, which was actually made of ice, collapsed and melted in front of everyone.

The Devil, grinning, told the monk: “I would leave you my grate in any case, if you will be able to carry it with the help of your donkey only.” That artwork was heavy and made of one piece only, but the Saint folded it in four parts miraculously and, with no struggle, he loaded it on the back of the donkey.

Down the way, Colombano meet an old farmer who was seeding peas: the Saint looked at him with kindness, he made him fall asleep and he made his peas ripen; then he went back on his way. The Devil, who was following the footprints of the donkey, became more and more annoyed of not finding him: the reason was that he was actually following the wrong route since the smart Saint, to make the Devil lose his tracks, had turned the horseshoes of his donkey the other way around.

At some point, the Devil understood the trick, so he went back running, blinded by anger. He met the old farmer: “Have you seen” he asked “a man with a donkey carrying a grate?”. “I’ve seen him while I was seeding these peas”, the old man answered, happily showing that they were ripen already. Therefore, the Devil started running desperately, hoping to find him and get his artwork back, but he could not reach the goal, because the legendary grate had been hidden already in the basement of the monastery, where it still be today.

They say that, for almost a century, it would have guarded the precious remains of Saint Colombano.  


(based on: Maria Cristina CitroniLeggende e racconti dell’Emilia Romagna)


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