Piero Camporesi (1926-1997) taught literature and history and anthropology – all combined – during a long career at the University of Bologna. His late masterpiece, La Casa dell'Eternità, was published in Milan in 1987, then translated into English by Lucinda Byatt and published by Pennsylvania State University Press in 1990 as The Fear of Hell : Images of Damnation and Salvation in Early Modern Europe.
Camporesi's signature technique involved creating a forest of quotations based on massive reading of primary sources – in this case, sermons and tracts and advice manuals and anthologies printed in Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries. Part of his investigation of the historical Hell involved him in tracing the web of intense superstition that surrounded the consecrated Host (traditionally elevated by the priest as a sign of Transubstantiation at the climax of the Mass) –
"Even in the seventeenth century (as is reported in the Compendium of Frate F.M. Guaccio) an old story, first told by Gioviano Pontano in De bello neapolitano, was still heard; it was a tale of sacrilegious meteorological spells, in which the desecration of the host reached a level of sabbatical iniquity, almost comparable to a black version of the carnevalesque 'feast of asses'."