Saint Pius was a holy man,
And held in detestation
The wicked course that others ran,
So lived upon starvation.
He thought the world so bad a place
That decent folks should fly it;
And, dreaming of a life of grace,
Determin'd straight to try it.
A cavern was his only house,
Of limited expansion,
And not a solitary mouse
Durst venture near his mansion.
He told his beads from morn to night,
Nor gave a thought to dinner;
And, while his faith absorb'd him quite,
He ev'ry day grew thinner.
Vain ev'ry hint by Nature given,
His saintship would not mind her;
At length his soul flew back to heaven,
And left her bones behind her.
Some centuries were gone and past,
And all forgot his story,
Until a sisterhood at last
Reviv'd his fame and glory.
To Rome was sent a handsome fee,
And pious letter fitted,
Requesting that his bones might be
Without delay transmitted.
The holy see with sacred zeal
Their relic hoards turn'd over,
The skeleton, from head to heel,
Of Pius to discover;
And having sought with caution deep,
To pious tears affected,
They recognised the blessed heap
So anxiously expected.
And now the town, that would be made
Illustrious beyond measure,
Was all alive with gay parade
To welcome such a treasure.
The bishop, in his robes of state,
Each monk and priest attending,
Stood rev'rently within the gate
To view the train descending;
The holy train that far had gone
To meet the sacred relic,
And now with joyous hymns came on,
Most like a band angelic.
The nuns the splendid robes prepare,
Each chain, and flower, and feather;
And now they claim the surgeon's care
To join the bones together.
The head, the arms, the trunk, he found,
And placed in due rotation;
But, when the legs he reached, around
He stared in consternation!
In vain he twirl'd them both about,
Took one, and then took t'other,
For one turn'd in, and one turn'd out,
Still following his brother.
Two odd left legs alone he saw,
Two left legs! 'tis amazing!
"Two left legs!" cried the nuns, with awe
And anxious wonder gazing.
The wonder reach'd the listening crowd,
And all the cry repeated;
While some press'd on with laughter loud,
And some in fear retreated.
The bishop scarce a smile repress'd,
The pilgrims stood astounded;
The mob, with many a gibe and jest,
The holy bones surrounded.
The abbess and her vestal train,
The blest Annunciation,
With horror saw the threaten'd stain
On Pius' reputation.
"Cease, cease! ungrateful race!" cried she,
"This tumult and derision,
And know the truth has been to me
Revealed in a vision!
"The saint who now, enthron'd in heav'n,
Bestows on us such glory,
Had two left legs by Nature given,
And, lo! they are before ye!
"Then let us hope he will no more
His blessed prayers deny us,
While we, with zeal elate, adore
The left legs of St. Pius."