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Boccaccio's The Decameron: Day 3, Story 4 (Summary)

Summary of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron Day 3 Story 4


Panfilo tells the fourth story of the third day.
Near the Convent of San Brancazio there lived a good man named Puccio di Rinieri. He was a rich man, who was devoted to his spirituality. He became a tertiary in the Franciscan Order and took on the name Friar Puccio. He was a very simpleminded man, and could see no farther that his spiritual matters. He was married to a woman named Monna Isabetta. She was still young and wanted to have sex, but each time she tried to sleep with her much older husband she was lectured about the life of Christ and other such teachings instead.

A young handsome monk named Dom Felice returned to San Brancazio from Paris and Puccio befriended him. Puccio would invite Dom Felice to his home for lunch or dinner from time to time, which is where Dom Felice first met Puccio's wife. He guessed that she was sexually frustrated, so he decided that he would take over Puccio's husbandly duties for him. One day, he looked at Monna with carnal desire in his eyes, she knew instantly what he wanted and she began to want the same thing. The only impediment to Felice and Monna getting together was the fact that Puccio never went out of town. Felice came up with a plan.
One day, Dom Felice casually mentioned to Puccio that he could help him attain sainthood. Puccio was very eager to learn and promised not to share this secret with anyone. Felice told him that he must perform penance. He must first confess all of his sins. Puccio must also fast and remain celibate for 40 days. At night Puccio must go somewhere in his home where he can see the sky. He is to stand on a very wide plank at the same time be able to rest his back upon the plank. He must keep his arms stretched out in the crucifixion position. While standing there he must recite 300 Our Fathers and 300 Hail Marys in honor of the Holy Trinity. He must remain in that position until matins the following morning. Later on in the morning he must go to hear at least three masses and recite fifty times both Our Fathers and Hail Marys. At vespers Puccio must be in the church to recite certain prayers that Felice wrote down for him; Felice told him that this is the most crucial step in becoming a saint. At compline he must start the whole process over again. If he puts enough devotion into this process he will receive his sainthood. Puccio agreed to start on Sunday.

Puccio began his penance and the monk came over every night to dine with Puccio's wife, then they would begin their amorous activities. Monna would often joke that Felice made Puccio do penance, but it was them who went to paradise. Puccio was never the wiser. Once Puccio was done with his penance, the two lovers continued to see each other discretely outside of Puccio's home.

Summary of Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron Day 3 Story 4 Sources

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