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[Image: St. Sebastian during an outbreak of the plague by Josse Lieferinxe]

By Paul Kengor, Crisis Magazine, Aug. 11, 2021

Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of the Center for Vision and Values. He is the author, most recently, of The Devil and Karl Marx (TAN Books, 2020).


There’s a touching section in Alessandro Manzoni’s classic novel The Betrothed, which focused on the vicious plague that consumed Milan and the Lombardy region in the 1620s. Renzo, the main character, watches a young Italian mom hand over the lifeless body of her precious daughter to a monatto, i.e., a worker tasked to collect the dead and pile them on carts. Manzoni narrated:A woman was stepping out of those doors, towards the carts. She was young, though no longer in the very first bloom of youth, and there was still beauty in her face, a beauty veiled and dimmed but not destroyed by unbearable emotion…. 

In her arms, she bore a little girl, perhaps nine years old, dead, but very neatly attired, with her hair carefully parted in the middle, and a spotlessly white dress, as if loving hands had adorned her for some special occasion, some long promised reward….  ….

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