11.2. i år blev läkaren Axel Munthe, en av de internationellt
mest kända svenska romanförfattarna genom tiderna, fri från
copyright. Tyvärr är inte Axel Munthe nämnd i våra viktigaste
litteraturhistoriska översikter, heller inte i litterära lexikon,
men han är ändå en stor författare. Ett exempel på detta är
slutet av boken "Boken om San Michele", något av det vackraste
jag läst i en roman, som gör Munthe till en föregångare för
djurrättskampen. Här kommer sista delen av den vackra avslut-
ningen, på engelska (man kan läsa boken i sin helhet på Internet
"I lifted my head and I saw myriads of martyrs
and saints in their white robes, hermits, anchor-
ites and stylites, their wild features scorched
by the Nubian sun, naked cenobites with their
emaciated bodies covered by a fell of hair, stern-
eyed prophets, their long beards spread over
their chests, holy apostles with palm branches
in their hands, patriarchs and Fathers of all lands
and all creeds, a few popes in their ghttering
tiaras and a couple of cardinals in their red robes.
Seated in a semicircle in front of me sat my
judges, stern and impassible.
“ It looks bad,” said St. Peter handing them
my credentials, “ very bad ! ”
St. Ignatius, the Grand Inquisitor, rose from
his seat and spoke :
“ His life is sullied with heincas sins, his soul
is dark, his heart is impure. As a Christian and
as a saint I ask for his damnation, may the devils
torment his body and soul through all eternity.”
A murmur of assent echoed through the Hall.
I lifted my head and looked at my judges. They
all looked back at me in stern silence. I bent
my head and said nothing, I remembered the
warning of the old Archangel to be silent, and
besides I did not know what to say. Suddenly I
noticed far away in the background a small saint
nodding frantically at me. Presently I saw him
timidly making his way among the bigger saints
to where I stood near the door.
“ I know you well,” said the little saint with a
friendly glance in his gentle eyes, “ I saw you
coming,” and putting his finger to his lips, he
added in a whisper, “ I also saw your faithful
friend trotting at your heels.”
“ Who are you, kind father? ” I whispered back.
“ I am St. Rocco, the patron saint of the dogs,”
announced the little saint, “ I wish I could help
you but I am rather a small saint here, they won’t
listen to what I say,” he whispered with a furtive
glance towards the prophets and the holy fathers.
“ He was an unbeliever,” St. Ignatius went on.
“ A blasphemous scoffer, a bar, an impostor, an
enchanter full of black magic, a fornicator . . .”
Several of the old prophets cocked their ears
“ He was young and ardent,” pleaded St. Paul,
“ it is better to . . .”
“ Old age did not improve him,” muttered a
“ He was fond of children,” said St. John.
“ He was fond of their mothers too,” growled a
Patriarch in his beard.
“He was a hard-working doctor,” said St.
Luke, the Beloved Physician.
“ Heaven is full of his patients and so is Hell,
I am told,” retorted St. Dominic.
“ He has had the audacity to bring his dog
with him, he is sitting waiting for his master out-
side the Gates of Heaven,” announced St. Peter.
“ He will not have to wait for his master for
long,” hissed St. Ignatius.
“ A dog at the gates of Heaven! ” ejaculated a
grim-looking old prophet in a furious voice.
“ I’VTio is that? ” I whispered to the patron saint
of the dogs.
“ For God’s sake don’t say anything, remember
the warning of the Archangel. I believe it is
“ If Habakkuk is amongst my judges I am lost
in any case, ‘ il est capable de tout,’ said Vol-
“ A dog at the gates of Heaven,” roared Habak-
kuk, “ a dog, an unclean beast! ”
It was too much for me.
“ He is not an unclean beast,” I shouted back
glaring angrily at Habakkuk, “ he was created by
the same God who created you and. me. If there
is a Heaven for us, there must also be a Heaven
for the animals, though you grim old prophets,
so fierce and stalwart in your holiness, have for-
gotten all about them. So for the matter of that
did you. Holy Apostles,” I went on losing my
head more and more. “ Or why did you omit in
your Holy scriptures to record a single saying of
our Lord in defence of our dumb brethren? ”
“ The Holy Church to which I belonged on earth has never taken any interest in the animals,”
interrupted St. Anastasius, “ nor do we wish to
hear anything about them in Heaven. Blas-
phemous fool, you had better think of your own
soul instead of theirs, your own wicked soul about
to return to the darkness from whence it came.”
“ My soul came from Heaven and not from the
Hell you have let loose on earth. I do not believe
in your Hell.”
“You soon will believe in it,” wheezed the
Grand Inquisitor, his eyeballs reflecting invisible
“ The wrath of God is upon him, he is mad, he
is mad! ” called out a voice.
A cry of terror rang through the Hall of Judg-
“Lucifer! Lucifer! Satan is amongst us!”
Moses rose from his seat, gigantic and fierce,
his Ten Commandments in his sinewy hands and
flashes of lightning in his eyes.
“ How angry he looks,” I whispered awestruck
to the patron saint of the dogs.
“ He is always angry,” the little saint whis-
pered back in terror.
“ Let no more be said about this spirit,”
thundered Moses. “ The voice I have heard is a
voice from the smoking lips of Satan. Man or
demon, away from here! Jehovah, God of
Israel, put forth Thy hand to smite him dowm!
Burn his flesh and dry up the blood in his veins!
Break all his bones! Cut him off from Heaven
and earth and send him back to the Hell from
whence he came ! ”
“To Hell! To Hell!” echoed through the
Hall of Judgment.
I tried to speak hut no sound came from my hps.
My heart froze, I felt abandoned by God and
“ I will look after the dog if it comes to
the worst,” whispered the little saint at my
Suddenly through the awful silence I thought
I heard the twitter of birds. A little garden
warbler alighted fearlessly on my shoulder and
sang in my ear:
“ You saved the life of my grandmother, my
aunt and my three brothers and sisters from tor-
ture and death by the hand of man on that rocky
island. Welcome! Welcome!”
At the same moment a skylark picked at my
finger and twittered to me :
“ I met a flycatcher in Lapland who told me
that when you were a boy you mended the wing
of one of his ancestors and warmed his frozen
body near your heart, and as you opened your
hand to set him free you kissed him and
said: ‘Godspeed little brother! Godspeed little
brother!’ Welcome! Welcome!”
“ Help me little brother! Help me little
“ I will try, I will try,” sang the skylark as he
unfolded his wings and flew away with a trill of
joy, “ I will trrrrrry! ”
My eyes followed the skylark as he flew away
towards the line of blue hills I could just see
through the Gothic archway. How well I knew
those hills from the paintings of Fra Angelico!
The same silver grey olive trees, the same sombre
cypresses standing out against the soft evening
sky. I heard the bells of Assisi ringing the
Angelus and there he came, the pale Umbrian
saint, slowly descending the winding hill path
with brother Leo and brother Leonardo at his
side. Swift-winged birds fluttered and sang
round his head, others fed from his outstretched
hands, others nestled fearlessly among the folds
of his cassock. St. Francis stood still by my side
and looked at my judges with his wonderful eyes,
those eyes that neither God nor man nor beast
could meet with anger in theirs.
Moses sank down in his seat letting fall his Ten
“ Always he,” he murmured bitterly. “ Al-
ways he, the frail dreamer with his flock of birds
and his following of beggars and outcasts. So
frail and yet strong enough to stay Thy aveng-
ing hand, O Lord! Art Thou then not Jehovah,
the jealous God, who descended in fire and smoke
on Mount Sinai and made the people of Israel
tremble with awe? Was it not Thy anger that
bade me stretch forth my avenging rod to smite
every herb in the field and break every tree that
all men and beasts should die? Was it not Thy
voice that spake in my Ten Commandments?
Who will fear the flash of Thy lightning, O Lord !
if the thunder of Thy wrath can be silenced by
the twitter of a bird? ”
My head sank on St. Francis’ shoulder.
I was dead, and I did not know it. "