RELIGION IN THE MEZZOGIORNO IN 1880
Even the priests are indifferent
as they mumble out prayers of which
not a word is understood nor even heard. . . .
Luigi Villari, in Italian Life in Town and Country
The importance of Roman Catholicism among southern Italian peasants was founded upon the perception that it was a force against arbitrary domination. As we saw earlier, that domination was perceived in one of two ways. It was, on the one hand, the result of the natural environment. Conversely, domination was perceived as a quality of those in power; influential people used their authority in a capricious fashion. Accordingly, the Catholicism