Sicilian: 'Un fare u’ santo fora da chiesa


Senior Member
Israel, Hebrew
Ciao tutti,

I need help with understanding the meaning of this idiom, (not the literal meaning) because to me it seems as if there's a discrepency inside the text. The text is from L'inverno dei leoni about the Florio family.

the context: Ignazio, a wealthy merchant from Sicilia, is visiting his sister in Belgium. They go to a party where some navy officers are not too happy to see him, and it upsets him. His sister notices his bad mood.

"Che hai?" chiede lei al fratello. . .
"Be', non mi aspettavo certo di essere portato in trionfo, perÒ..."
È il sorriso di Giuseppina a stemperare la sua contrarietà.
"'Un fare u' santo fora da chiesa," gli sussura in un dialetto venato di francese che gli strappa una risata. Era un'espressione tipica della nonna per indicare che gli improvvisi cambi d'umore non le erano graditi."

Does it make sense? To me, "Don't be a priest outside of church" sounds more like "don't be holier than the Pope", don't act piously when there's no need for it, like in a party. What does it have to do with not changing one's mood??

Thanks in advance :)
  • alfaalfa

    Senior Member
    "Don't be a priest (the statue of) the saint outside of church"

    A typical Italian saint outside of church

    What does it have to do with not changing one's mood??
    Nothing in my opinion.
    Strange enough, Stefania Auci is Sicilian.
    Maybe, there was another granma's saying in the draft copy.


    Senior Member
    Israel, Hebrew
    Hi, thanks - off course I made a mistake, not a priest, a saint, but i thought a human being. And you suggest she's talking about the statue of a saint... and that it should be read - dont be a "saint outside of church" - that is, a specific type of this statue. Hmmm. Now I wonder, is this a popular phrase? Does it have any meaning? When do people say it?