So, as I am discovering: having learned a few words of Italian puts me in a far more strenuous situation than I enjoyed in my near-complete ignorance. This is because I get into conversations but don't know how to proceed. Here's a good example:
One of the friars came to supper with a piece of mail in English, an example of a sort of thing he had been receiving regularly from time to time. He wanted to know what it was and what he was supposed to do about it. Having me here provided him with the opportunity to discover the nature of these communications he had been receiving.
After much effort, I managed to explain that it was a fund-raising letter from some splinter Mormon group. (During this conversation I arrived at the term Mormoni Riformati, of which I was very proud on account of its Franciscan resonances.) I explained that these folks would like it if Father would kindly send them some money. He seemed relieved to hear something that freed him to dismiss the communication.
However, other friars had now become involved in the conversation, and the question of polygamy came up. They wanted to know why, if Mitt Romney was a Mormon, he didn't have more than one wife, etc. Without my help, which was useless anyway, they decided that he was a serious businessman and politician, and probably didn't have time for more than one wife. Luckily for me, before I could make an attempt at recounting Mormon history, the conversation turned more abstract and began to revolve around the assertion that polygamy sounded like a nice idea, but that one could adduce plenty of biblical evidence that it had its own particular stresses and difficulties.