Witchcraft in Venice

Something about whitchraft in Venice: the story of the evil father Vittore.

The practice of witchcraft in Venice was strictly prohibited by law, but Father Vittore who lived on the island of Malamocco practiced it regularly.

It is said that he practiced sorcery along with his normal religious functions and was on such good terms with the Devil that he always kept him close in the form of a big white dog.

In addition to being an expert in magical practices, Father Vittore was also a very greedy person always on the lookout for someone he could outwit.

It must have seemed then like he’d hit the jackpot when, in 1456, he met Mauro D’Otranto who worked at the Basilica of San Marco and kept a chest full of silver coins at home; it was an opportunity not to be missed!

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When his first attempts to gain possession of the riches using magical spells failed, Father Vittore decided to intervene personally.

We’ll never know for sure if the big white dog who accompanied him contributed to the plan, but without a doubt christian charity was not in his mind while he was concocting his plan!

If those coins weren’t coming to him, he was going to have to go to them. Saying that he was on the run from some bandit priests, Vittore left the island of Malamocco and asked for hospitality in the parsonage of San Marco and to be lodged near Mauro D’Otranto.

Ever closer to the treasure, Vittore waited patiently for night to arrive in order to climb to the roof of the rectory and locate the chimney that would allow him to lower himself inside his victim’s home.

Of all the virtues that the priest lacked, patience was certainly not among them, so much so that he waited for morning prayers to begin before entering the house.

So much patience, and so much effort were rewarded by the sight of the treasure: a case full of silver coins hidden under the bed but, prudence, advised Father Vittore to hide in the house to kill Mauro on his return.

It is said that the devil is in the detail, and a few minor details such as the displaced chairs and the misplaced chest made Mauro inspect his room closely.

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Something wasn’t quite right, he must have thought, and at that moment someone hit him hard from behind; a strong blow, but not enough to knock him to the ground or to prevent his reaction and so, turning abruptly, he found himself in front of his aggressor: Father Vittore.

The fight was short, not only because Mauro turned out to be a good fighter abut mostly because he was armed with a knife. Realising all was lost, Victor surrendered, begging forgiveness.

Perhaps out of naivety, or a good heart, Mauro decided to back off and save his aggressor’s life.

Vittore in turn, perhaps out of greed, perhaps because he was just plain evil, tore Mauro’s knife out of his hand and with a lightning quick blow sank it into his throat.

After hiding the corpse in the cellar of the sacristy and seizing the silver coins, the evil priest decided that it would be more prudent to stay in San Marco instead of fleeing.

In addition to being in the detail, it is said that the devil takes a hand in what is done in haste and, after a brief investigation, Vittore found himself in jail.

He confessed after long torture by the inquisitors and, when on the scaffold to be hanged, it is said that he also confessed to another crime committed years before on the island of Malamocco.

Nobody in Venice knew what became of the big white dog that used to accompany him.