‘Let’s Send Up Some Incense to the Lord!’
‘Let’s Send Up Some Incense to the Lord!’ is the infamous sentence pronounced by the Franciscan Bernardino of Siena, who, along with some other preachers of his time, is the main focus of this chapter. I examine these men’s contribution to the revival of the classical image of striges. The efficacy of preachers in modifying collective perceptions of the nature of witchcraft was catalysed in Italy by lingering popular memories of ancient striges, as is shown in the preceding chapters. However, the preacher (and inquisitor) was not merely a kind of anthropologist discovering ancient beliefs, but was also an inventor—or, at the very least, someone who was capable of reading another preacher’s sermons describing a tradition rooted in France or Germany, and of retelling it in Italy, making it his own. In this way, the circulation of classical themes of magic and witchcraft became more effective in shaping what was, by then, perceived as a collective phenomenon.