Once upon a time a little shepherd lived in Anacapri who was the poorest among the poor children of the island. He lived with his widowed mother in a tiny ramshackle shack. Their only real possession was a small sheep that he used to pasture on the slopes of Mount Solaro.
One evening as it was getting dark, the boy lingered to pick flowers for his mother. When he turned around to call his small sheep, she was no longer there. He felt a sharp pang of fear and pain in his heart. The little sheep was his best friend and companion and she was all that he and his mother had in the world. The boy searched without any luck and feared she had stumbled from the rocks into the sea. Suddenly he began to hear the ringing of a bell in the distance. He ran impulsively towards the sound, over rocks that scraped with feet and through thistles that grabbed at the hem of his worn pants. Night had already fallen and he found himself near the edge of a deep ravine.
A sudden flash of light stopped the boy in his tracks and wrapped in the golden beam, splendid on his white horse, San Michele appeared to him, the boy’s sheep by his side. The sheep was wearing a small shining bell around its neck. The bell had the image of a four-leaf clover on it.
“My boy,” said the Saint, gesturing to the bell, “Take it and always follow the sound of it. It will keep you safe from all danger.”
From that moment forward the boy heeded what he was told by San Michele and both he and his mother became prosperous and happy. On the spot of the apparition, a villa was built which was called San Michele.
During the Second World War, replicas of these little bells were very popular with Allied soldiers who would purchase them as good luck charms. Although the story is not a Christmas tale, the bells have become a traditional holiday ornament on Capri, in Sorrento and all along the Amalfi Coast.
You can order the bells from numerous sites online, but one of the finest selections can be found at www.capribell.it. The bells range in price from $18 to about $50. Most of the bells featured are priced at $20 or less.