These books of short stories about a village priest in post-war Italy and his nemesis, Peppone, the Communist mayor, are always good reading. Never doctrinal or shrill, Don Camillo is street smart and wily as he maneuvers against the latest absurd power grabs of the local Italian Communist party. There is one moving story called “Christ’s Secret Agent” in which Don Camillo sneaks into an Italian Communist tourist group visiting the Soviet Union. Peppone cannot expose him without getting himself into trouble, so Don Camillo gets to see the reality of the Worker’s Paradise of Russia for himself. In this particular story he secretly performs Catholic rituals for a Catholic family on a commune, in particular an elderly Polish grandmother, in violation of Soviet law of course.
That such simple and harmless acts are considered high treason in a totalitarian dictatorship is highlighted. One recalls the Soviet occupation of Mongolia and the subsequent extermination of thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns, to know that this was standard practice in all Communist countries. This is the type of anti-religious program converts like Che Guevara relished and tried to duplicate. Even today Buddhist activity is severely limited in Vietnam, for example, and China regularly clamps down on Christian priests, while putting on a smiley face to the rest of the world.
This site has many Don Camillo stories online.
Another good site on the author of the Don Camillo books.