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Colapesce, a boy from Messina, loved staying in the water and would spend most of his days swimming. He resided in the water for so long that he slowly started to gain fish-like characteristics, such as being able to swim underwater for long periods of time without needing air.

King Frederick II found out about the young boy and his talent, so he sailed to visit him. When he met him, he tested the boys abilities by throwing his possessions overboard for the boy to retrieve. He gradually began diving deeper into the water, always returning with the king’s possessions. However, when the boy was asked to retrieve the kings crown, he noticed a peculiar sight under the water. He saw the island of Sicily being held and supported by three columns, one intact, the second slightly chipped and scratched, and the third was crumbling away, making Colapesce uneasy at the sight of it.

When King Frederick asked the boy to retrieve his ring, Colapesce was worried he might not come back. Eventually he decide to go but asked for a handful of lentils, saying "If you see the lentils float to the surface then I will not be coming back." After waiting a few days for Colapesce to return, the king looked into the water and saw his ring and lentils float to the surface. He then knew that Colapesce had chosen to take the broken column upon his shoulders to support Sicily. Sicilians claim that when the island shakes from earthquakes it is Colapesce, moving the island on his shoulder because he is tired.