He would have looked very well as a priest: the shabby, gnomic variety one sees in small Italian towns.
Dyer uses this kind of gnomic, prophetic, baffling language all the time, and it can be trying and vague.
pertaining to or being like a gnome
French gnome + -ic
"full of instructive sayings," 1815, from French gnomique (18c.) and directly from Late Latin gnomicus "concerned with maxims, didactic," from Greek gnomikos, from gnome "thought, opinion, maxim, intelligence," from root of gignoskein "to come to know" (see gnostic). English gnome meant "short, pithy statement of general truth" (1570s). Gnomical is attested from 1610s.