CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas
Do not cite without permission from email@example.com
Among the many genres of religious literature translated into the Nahuatl language in sixteenth-century Mexico is the miracle narrative, the brief account of a miraculous deed executed by Christ or a saint, most typically the Virgin Mary, on behalf of a devotee. Such legends were widely used in Europe as preachers' exempla, as legitimating evidence for local saints and shrines, and as expressions of popular devotion not infrequently at odds with formal Church doctrine. Divorced from their original context, formularized, and compiled in compendia, these narratives circulated widely across medieval Europe as editors borrowed from one another and as oral narratives passed into print and then back into oral tradition. This generalizing of the narratives applies especially to those of Mary: she was the most important and most popular saint and, since according to legend she left no bodily remains, no single shrine could dominate her cult.(1)
The Nahuas of central Mexico had narrative traditions, including a genre of 'tale' or 'story' (zazanilli). But the medieval miracle narrative, introduced to Mexico by Spanish priests, was both a new narrative form and a new forum for conceptualizing and describing human encounters with the sacred, particularly Mary. This paper explores both of these aspects: the emergence of the miracle narrative as a genre in Nahuatl and the ways in which the Virgin is represented within such texts. These are not separate issues, for the Nahuas' understandings of Mary were conditioned by the texts in which information about her was conveyed to them and which they adapted to their own use.
In addition to miracle narratives, texts in Nahuatl that speak of or to the Virgin include sermons, dramas, hymns, hagiographical narratives associated with her different festivals, and prayers; the most common prayers are the Ave Maria and Salve Regina, which Christian Nahuas learned as part of the basic catechism. Miracle narratives account for only a fraction of this corpus, but are important in that they show Mary intervening directly and benevolently in the lives of (allegedly) real people. She provides an alternative to the distant and authoritative male God; the lively and relatively non-homiletic narratives provide an alternative to more formal and abstract teachings.
I will discuss Marian miracle narratives found in one sixteenth-century Nahuatl manuscript. This text, in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University (Doctrina n.d.), is an anonymous and undated compilation of devotional materials: prayers, discourses and instructions regarding points of doctrine, biblical excerpts, narratives, and other genres. Many of the entries relate to the cult of Mary. The document was written by Nahua scribes who had access to a variety of religious texts but had limited facility in Latin--thus they were probably working mostly from texts already translated into Nahuatl (or possibly Spanish), including one or more compendia of miracle narratives. Some sections of the manuscript are cognate with the Franciscan Pedro de Gante's 1553 doctrina, a monolingual Nahuatl catechism directed at the native community (Gante 1981). It is possible that the document originally belonged to an indigenous confraternity of the Rosary, for it includes a handwritten copy of a Nahuatl account of the indulgences granted members of that sodality, apparently published in Mexico City in 1572; however, no other texts explicitly connected with the Rosary are included. In any case, it appears to have been redacted with relatively little priestly input and was probably used mainly by Nahuas rather than friars. The manuscript contains ten miracle narratives, eight of which pertain to the Virgin. The eight Marian miracles fill twenty-six pages and account for slightly more than 10 per cent of the manuscript's total content. Mary also makes two appearances in a saint's legend included in the document, which I have published elsewhere (Burkhart 1995).(2)
Accounts of miracles appear in other early Nahuatl texts (e.g., Anunciacion 1577, Sahagun 1993 , Bautista 1606), but usually in the context of a sermon or longer narrative rather than as individual entries. Mendicant chroniclers, in their Spanish accounts, occasionally tell of miraculous cures, visions, and rescues experienced by Christian Nahuas (Davila Padilla 1955; Motolinia 1979; Mendieta 1980). A seventeenth-century Jesuit manuscript in the Bancroft Library contains twenty-nine narratives in Nahuatl, most of them relating to Mary and a number of these relating specifically to the Rosary devotion (Sermones y santoral en mexicano n.d.). Fifteen narratives connected with the Mexican shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe were appended to the Nahuatl version of the shrine's foundation legend published in 1649 (Lasso de la Vega 1649; Weckmann 1984: 343; Poole 1995; Santaballa 1995). These differ from earlier narratives in that they are set in Mexico rather than adapted directly from European sources; some involve indigenous people. I have chosen to focus here on the John Carter Brown Library manuscript because of its relatively early date and the apparently prevalent role of Nahuas in its redaction.
English 'miracle' and Spanish milagro derive from the Latin miraculum, which in turn is based on the verb (ad)mirari, 'to wonder (at)'. Thomas Aquinas, based on Augustine, delineated two essential features of a miracle: the cause of the deed is hidden and the effect produced is contrary to nature. For Alfonso X of Castile, who included accounts of miracles in his Cantigas de Santa Maria (c. 1257), miracles could occur only through the power of God, acted against nature, rewarded goodness in the recipient, and had to be in conformity with the faith (Montoya Martinez 1981:24-5).
The friars and Nahuas who translated Christian concepts into Nahuatl chose the term tlamahuizolli to refer to miracles and the narratives that tell of them. Tlamahuizolli means 'something to be marveled at' or 'something to be wondered at'; Molina's 1571 Nahuatl-Castilian dictionary defines it as milagro o marauilla (1971: 126r). The noun derives from the verb mahuizoa, 'to marvel at', and ultimately from the verb mahui, 'to be afraid'. It is, thus, a reasonable parallel for Latin miraculum, but may convey more of an attitude of awe than does the Old World concept. It does not necessarily imply any association with divinity nor any suspension of natural law. I have chosen 'marvel' as a convenient English rendering.
Tlamahuizolli was not a colonial coinage; in indigenous discourse it could refer to anything that inspired wonder and admiration. In the Florentine Codex, the ethnographic encyclopedia prepared by the Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagun in collaboration with educated Nahuas (some of whom also worked on adapting Christian texts into Nahuatl), the term is applied, for example, to the ocean, the life of a newly- or soon-to-be-born child, beautiful gems, a ruler's palace, a warrior's death by sacrifice, an unprecedented event, and a bean that stands on end when cast in the patolli game (Sahagun 1950-82: XI, 247; VI, 137, 138, 152, 186; XI, 227, 231, 270; VI, 14; I, 83; VIII, 30). Some other usages here reflect the Christian appropriation of the term. The appendix to Book One explains that Quetzalcoatl's deeds that were like marvels (iuhqujnma tlamauicolli ) were achieved through devilish words (I, 69); that is, the native deities, unlike Christian saints, did not work authentic miracles. A dramatic representation of the Final Judgment is described as vej tlamaujcolli vej neixcujtilli 'a great marvel, a great example' (VIII, 8).(4) Neixcuitilli 'example' is the usual Nahuatl term for Christian dramas; it derives from Latin exemplum (and Spanish ejemplo or exemplo) rather than from indigenous usage (see Burkhart 1996: 46-7). As miracle narratives were also exempla and were the basis for some dramas, it is not surprising that a colonial chronicler would pair the two terms. The Bancroft Library manuscript refers to miracle narratives as neixcuitillatolli, 'example words' (Sermones y santoral en mexicano n.d.: 307r), as well as the more frequently used tlamahuizolli.
The upright patolli bean is also classified as a tetzahuitl, or omen (cenca tetzammachoia 'it was considered a great omen'; Sahagun 1950-82: VIII, 30). Although the patolli player would win in this instance, in most cases tetzahuitl portended ill fortune (Burkhart 1989: 64, 93-5). In a striking and perhaps not coincidental parallel to the miracle narrative, in Book Five of the Florentine Codex seventeen tetzahuitl are explicated in the form of a compendium of brief narratives (Sahagun 1950-82: V, 151-80). Most tell of animals or supernatural beings that bring misfortune on those who encounter them: the horned owl's cry, the weasel crossing one's path, the severed head, the human ash-bundle. They are described in separate 'chapters', except for the thirteenth and last which covers five omens. An introductory statement assigns these beliefs to the old ways of the ancestors; several of the narratives associate the omens with the deity Tezcatlipoca, a trickster figure whom Catholic priests saw as particularly demonic. In Book Twelve the famous omens of the Spanish invasion, which mark the transition from the old order to the new, are also related as a compendium of brief narratives (Sahagun 1950-82: 1-3).
Because the term tetzahuitl had negative associations, it was not a suitable equivalent for the wondrous cures, rescues, and other forms of aid offered by miracle-working saints, which, though similarly anomalous and surprising, rewarded Christian devotion. The Christian use of tlamahuizolli, thus, designates a type of event--an extraordinary occurrence manifesting divine power--that Nahuas had an established tradition of naming, describing, and interpreting, but one very different in character from the traditional tetzahuitl. The Christianized concept of tlamahuizolli, and its associated narratives, can be seen as a colonial and Christian parallel to the tetzahuitl, now also gathered together in narrative collections, like exempla, but assigned to the past and rejected as works of the demonic old deities unworthy of people's faith.
The ten miracle narratives in the John Carter Brown Library manuscript (for present purposes I include the two non-Marian miracles) reveal stylistic regularities indicating that by the time the manuscript was redacted (1572 or later) the tlamahuizolli was a distinctive and recognized genre. Three typical features are: (1) an introductory label that includes the word tlamahuizolli; (2) an opening statement citing the source of the narrative or giving some other introductory comments; and (3) a formulaic opening to the narrative proper. Each of these features is described in more detail below.
The scribes introduce all but two of the narratives as tlamahuizolli. One is labeled a 'help' or 'assistance' (ytepallehuilliztzin 'her [Mary's] helping of people', 20v); one has no introductory statement. Some of the narratives are presented as part of numbered sequences. In a group of three, the second begins 'here is the second marvel' and the third 'here is the third marvel'. Three begin 'here is another marvel' (see Figure 1); one of these is followed by a narrative labeled 'here is a second marvel'. Others are ascribed numbers that do not make sense in the context of this manuscript, as if the scribes were selecting individual narratives from a longer compendium and simply copied the numbers along with the story. Thus there is a so-called ninth chapter (capitollo) which contains the ninth 'help' of Saint Mary, and other narratives labeled twelve, fourteen, and fifteen (in that order). In three cases the Spanish loanword exemplo appears in addition to Nahuatl tlamahuizolli.
Additional introductory information appears in seven of the ten narratives. Two have brief statements: 'it happened to a nun (cihuamadre 'woman mother')' (22v) and 'it happened long ago' (24r). Four refer to sources. Of these one states: 'Thus it appears that Saint Mary truly speaks for the sinner. It is told in a book' (64v). Another reads: 'Thus it is told in a book, the name of which is de scalla celli' (67r; see Figure 1). The third states: 'Here is told the ninth help of our precious mother Saint Mary, there it is heard, in a book called Scala celli' (70v). The book referred to is Scala celi by the fourteenth-century Dominican Johannes Gobius, an alphabetically-arranged compilation of exempla that includes seventeen Marian miracle narratives, among them these two as well as another of the miracles in the manuscript (Gobius 1480). The fourth citation is as follows: 'Saint Anselm tells it in a book where the marvelous deeds of our precious mother Saint Mary lie written' (71r). The writer of the last narrative explains: 'it pertains to the festival of our mother Saint Mary which is called Purification (porificancio)' (75v).
The following is a list of the opening phrases of the stories themselves:
Ce tlacatl cihuapilli 'A person, a noblewoman' (22r)
Ce tlacatl onnenca yntoca avatesa 'A person there lived, who is called an 'abbess'' (23r)
Ce tlacatl pilli onnenca 'A person, a noble, there lived' (24r)
Ca cen (5) pilli hocatca tetlacuicuilliani 'Indeed, a noble there was, a robber' (64v)
Ca ce tlacatl cihuatzintli Judea ychan 'Indeed, a person, a woman, resident of Judea' (67r)
ce tlacatl sanceltode (6) 'A person, a priest' (70v)
ce tlacatl civatzintli 'A person, a woman' (71r)
Ca cequintin Acaltica yetihuia 'Indeed, some people were travelling by boat' (72r)
Ca ce tlacatl Onnenca pilli 'Indeed, a person there lived, a noble' (74r)
Ca yn iquac monemiltiaya Ce huey teopixqui ytoca bonifancio 'Indeed, when was living a great priest whose name was Boniface' (75r)
Clearly a formula has developed centering on the word ce, 'a, one' (plural cequintin 'some'), which is sometimes preceded by the introductory particle ca, 'indeed, for', and is followed by one or more words that characterize the legend's protagonist, the first of which is often tlacatl, 'person'. The last example departs slightly from this pattern. This is the only narrative attached to an actual historical personage, Pope (and Saint) Boniface I. But even here the protagonist is introduced with the word ce where one would normally expect the article in. Ce (tlacatl) was probably adopted as an analog for Latin quidam, 'a certain' (person, woman, cleric, etc.).
Closing formulae are less marked, but some of the narratives end with an affirmation of the faith: the protagonist proceeds to lead a virtuous life; the audience is reminded of the importance of some aspect of Mary's worship.
In summary, the scribes who redacted these Nahuatl miracle narratives typically designated their texts as tlamahuizolli, placed them into a series ('a second', 'another'), legitimated them in some way by invoking a written text or the capabilities of the Virgin, and marked the beginning of the story with a formula designating a certain person as protagonist. This narrative frame informed the audience that a certain type of story was forthcoming, one in which a human being would encounter something marvelous. In contrast to the tetzahuitl narratives, the human actor, rather than the anomalous event, is designated the center and subject of the story.
The miracle narratives are distributed within the manuscript as follows. The first (number 1 below) is sandwiched between the two non-Marian miracles; all three relate to the sacrament of penitence. They follow a text on Tobias and precede a discussion of the importance of confession. Numbers 2 and 3 follow Old Testament readings for the Feasts of the Visitation (of Mary to Saint Elizabeth) and Saint Mark. These are followed by additional Old Testament readings, one (apparently) for the Visitation and one for the Assumption (of Mary). Then the remaining five miracle narratives appear in unbroken sequence, followed by an excerpt from Revelation (7: 2-12) and a text on Christ's resurrection. The following are summaries of the eight Marian narratives, with quotations of some of the dialogue; the fourth is translated in full. Each is followed by a brief commentary.
1. A virtuous abbess lived with her niece, also a nun, who was deceived by the demon (tlacatecolotl 'human horned owl') and had sexual relations with a man. She was very ashamed and went about sad and weeping and performing penances. But she did not want to confess the misdeed, saying to herself: 'Oh how wretched I am! How will I straighten my heart?(7) Everyone speaks well of me. Let me not reveal my misdeed before the heart-straightener, so that they will not consider me to be wicked. Let me just devote myself to doing penance for it. I will pray to God. Perhaps thus he will pardon me'. She was so sad that she became ill. She confessed, omitting that one great misdeed, and took communion. Then her soul went directly to hell (mictlan 'among the dead'). Her aunt the abbess prayed for a year to our mother Saint Mary, asking to know where her niece's soul went. Then one time she saw Saint Mary in her sleep. Mary spoke to her and took her on a tour of hell. She saw the souls suffering in many places, smelled the awful stenches, and finally saw her niece, chained and suffering, her tongue aflame. Mary explained to the startled abbess that the woman must suffer in this way forever because she failed to confess one mortal sin. The abbess then awakened and never again offered prayers on behalf of her niece. (22v-24r)
Here Mary responds to a devotee's prayers, but the narrative is unusual in that it shows the limits of Mary's abilities. Rather than saving a sinner who might otherwise be destined for hell, she confirms the inevitability of infernal torment for one who failed to confess properly, thus upholding the formal dictates of the faith. In addition to providing a doctrinal lesson on the importance of confession, the abbess's personal vision of the underworld as a horrible place confirms the friars' depiction of it; the preconquest mictlan was not a place of punishment.
Nahuas were not generally allowed to become nuns, but sexual abstinence was expected of women and girls who served at the old temples and colonial Nahuas knew of the vows of chastity required of priests and nuns. Mendieta (1980: 420) tells of indigenous women who voluntarily followed their example, asserting that even in the 'Babylon' of Mexico City there were hundreds of women who had remained virgins into old age.
2. A nobleman and robber, a wicked man married to a Christian woman, was urged by his wife to fast on the Sabbath in Mary's honor and to recite the Ave Maria when he passed her image. Once, en route to commit a misdeed, he entered a church and was about to say the Ave Maria before an image of Mary carrying her child in her arms, but saw blood (8) coming out and running on Mary. Mary spoke to the frightened man, explaining that he and others who are not satisfied are worse than the Jews, for the Jews only crucified her son once while they crucify him many times. Then she made the blood disappear. The man, saddened by his sins, said, 'Oh fountain of compassion, oh maiden, pray for me to your precious child'. Mary then conversed with her child, insisting repeatedly that he pardon the man's sins, because he loves her and she brought him up and he is merciful. Finally she placed him on the altar (altal) and knelt before him, kissing his feet. He then gave in, stating: 'As it is a commandment that people's mothers be honored, be esteemed, and as you are my mother, it is necessary that I obey you, that I honor you.... Truly, oh my precious mother, for your sake I have compassion for this sinner. May his misdeeds be pardoned. May he live happily. And may he kiss my body where I suffered'. The man did so and the holes (wounds) closed and stopped bleeding. The man thanked Mary and Christ and went home. After giving away all his goods he became a padre and his wife entered a convent ('the house of the women who live in a sacred way'). They both died in goodness when their lives were over. (64r-66v)
Here Mary appears in her typical role as the 'Sinner's Friend' (Power 1928: xxvii), wheedling favors from her son and securing salvation for a person who, though flagrantly immoral, expressed devotion to her. Because it contrasts the wicked man with his Christian wife, the legend applies well to a context of recent and ongoing evangelization. Here an image of the madonna and child comes to life, reinforcing the holy character of the Christian images but also potentially confounding the friars' efforts vto distinguish images from idols and from the personages represented. Nahuas traditionally associated their deities very closely with the images and impersonators who represented them in rituals. The man is designated a pilli, or noble in the Nahua social hierarchy, and a tetlacuicuilliani, 'one who customarily and repeatedly takes things from people' .(9) Molina's 1571 dictionary defines the term as 'public robber' (1971: 108r). The translator chose this term over ichtecqui or ichtequini, 'thief', perhaps to make clear that this is not an ordinary burglar but a highwayman. However, this usage also introduces an interesting ambiguity, for tetlacuihcuiliani (or tetlacuihcuiliqui) also refers to a shaman who cures by pretending to suck small objects out of his or her patient's body (Lopez Austin 1967: 110; Simeon 1977: 522; Bautista 1979: 151). The nature of the man's sins are not identified further in the text. Thus, this wicked man could be seen as a traditional religious practitioner of a sort whom friars would identify as being in league with the devil. Yet even he, with Mary's help, makes the transition to Christianity, renouncing both his wealth and his former career to become a priest.
3. A Jewish woman of Judea was suffering greatly in childbirth and lay awaiting her death. Neighbors came and told her to pray to Saint Mary, 'for she is very compassionate'. The woman said to Mary: 'oh noblewoman, Saint Mary, have compassion for me, even though it is not my merit. For I am one of those who crucified your precious child. Very well do I know that you have compassion for sinners. And now if you will save me, truly I declare that we both will be baptized, [I and] my child'. She then gave birth easily and fulfilled her promise. When her husband returned home he cut the child's neck with his sword (itepuzmanquauh, 'his metal hand-stick').(10) The neighbors came running. The husband fled and sought refuge in a church of Saint Mary. Comforted at the sight of Mary's image, he threw himself on her mercy:
Alas! Oh how wretched I am! For I have sinned greatly, as I have killed my little child. Alas! Oh Mary, you are very compassionate. You do not push me away. Well do I know that your pity is very great. And now, may it be that you have compassion for me, as your precious child had compassion for Saint Paul when he was greatly afflicting the Christians. For truly I believe that Jesus became flesh inside you. And he was born but your maidenhood was not destroyed thereby. And I believe that he is the true God, whom we have been awaiting. He is very compassionate.Then the authorities ('the lords, the rulers, the staff-bearers') found him and arrested him. He asked to be baptized before his execution. The child came back to life before his (11) mother's eyes, his neck healed, and told his mother that her husband had been baptized. She took the child to the jail and they let the father go. Father and child both went on to lead good lives and serve Mary. (67r-69r)
Figure 1 is a photograph of the first page of this narrative; the reference to the Scala celi is on the third to fourth lines. The story follows its European model but is an abridged version of it.(12) This story of a Jewish woman's conversion to Christianity could easily serve as a model for Nahua conversions. Furthermore, the father's murder of his baptized child could call to mind the death of Cristobal of Tlaxcala in 1527. According to Motolinia, the principal source, Cristobal was the twelve- or thirteen-year-old son and principal heir of a high-ranking nobleman named Acxotecatl. Indoctrinated by the Franciscans, he began to harass his unbaptized father, breaking his deity images and spilling his vats of pulque, the indigenous alcoholic brew. The father finally beat the boy severely and burned him over a fire. He looked for his Spanish sword but could not find it; the boy expired of his injuries the following morning. Acxotecatl also killed the boy's mother. Cristobal's body was found to be dry and uncorrupted, like that of a Christian saint. The father, unrepentant, was hanged. Two years later another noble Tlaxcalan boy and his servant were murdered while confiscating idols around the town of Tepeaca; their repentant killers begged for baptism before they were hanged. In the hands of Franciscan chroniclers, the stories of these child martyrs became homegrown exempla demonstrating indigenous children's innocence and aptitude for the faith.(13)
In the Florentine Codex orations on childbirth, the midwife tending a woman who is unable to give birth invokes the female divinities Cihuacoatl, Quilaztli, and Yohualticitl, and perhaps others: 'Who knows the ones to whom she cried out?' (Sahagun 1950-82: VI, 160). Subsequently, the midwife either cuts up and removes the dead fetus from the living woman or the woman dies with the fetus inside her. In the latter case, if it is her first childbirth the woman undergoes apotheosis as one of the deities representing women who die in labour; the text continues with an account of this process (161-5). In this story, then, invocations of the old deities do not help the woman in crisis, and she may actually become one of them. In the miracle narrative, a dying woman invokes Mary and, like the saint herself, gives birth with no trouble; she then becomes a Christian. Mary replaces the old deities of female reproduction, whose sexuality contrasts strikingly with her virginity, and her own painless childbirth becomes the model for the birth experiences of her devotees. An easy delivery followed by baptism inverts the Florentine Codex paradigm of death followed by apotheosis as a 'pagan' deity.
The child, rescued from death in the womb, then falls victim to his father's ire but is again granted life by Mary. With Mary represented as a helper in childbirth and a restorer of dead children, the story may have had particular appeal to women as well as providing a model of a male sinner's salvation.
4. The following is a complete translation of this narrative, which is the shortest of the eight.
A person, a priest (saceltode, for Spanish sacerdote), used to pray very much to the noblewoman Saint Mary. However, he was very confused about the Holy Sacrament (Sancto Sacramento). Therefore he was always praying to our precious mother Saint Mary that she help him. And when it was Saturday (Sapado) he was saying mass (missa). And he was about to say the pater noster. Then the host (yn ostia), the sacrament, which he had blessed, disappeared. And when he watched this he was very frightened. He saw Saint Mary carrying her child in her arms. And she said to the priest (teopixqui, 'god-keeper'): 'Here is my child, the way he was born. It is he whom you have blessed. And many times you have touched him. With your hands you lift him up. Here, I am placing him in your hands. Finish the mass'. And the priest (teopixqui) then laid the little child on the altar. And when he would have broken the sacrament he saw that it was no longer like a child, but like a little tortilla. Thus he was very strengthened with belief, he believed very strongly in God. (70v-71r)
This narrative follows its model in the Scala celi very closely. Divergences from the Latin edition that I consulted include the omission from Mary's speech of a reference to the priest's eating and drinking her son, which perhaps struck the translator as too graphically cannibalistic when applied to Christ in human form, and the addition in the Nahuatl of the closing comments on the priest's faith. 'Like a little tortilla' translates in figura panis, 'in the form of bread' (Gobius 1480). Masses dedicated to the Virgin were customarily performed on Saturdays.
Some Nahuas, like this priest and many other European Christians, may well have been confused about the nature of the sacramental host, which they were told was the body of Christ but which certainly did look like a little tortilla. This story confirms its identification with Christ--and, thus, despite the translator's scruples, the cannibalistic nature of the rite. As in the two preceding narratives, Mary's maternal character is emphasized.
European miracle narratives feature a high proportion of Christian religious professionals as characters, a reflection of the social context in which they were developed, recorded, and used. With few exceptions, and those mostly the mestizo offspring of Spaniards and elite Nahua women, persons of native ancestry were barred from becoming priests and nuns. Thus Nahuas could not have identified very closely with such characters as abbesses and priests. The favor Mary shows to such individuals would only reinforce the religious authority of Europeans over indigenous people.
5. A woman who was very devoted to Mary prayed to her constantly that her precious child Jesus Christ might appear to her. After a long time, it happened. While the woman was standing in a church praying, Mary appeared to her and told her that her wish would be granted. Jesus Christ then appeared, looking like a little child and shimmering like an angel. The woman took him in her arms, hugging him with great delight and thanking his mother for the favor: 'Oh mother of God, Saint Mary, what will I give you, how can I return to you the way that you have so greatly favored me? You havc shown me yourself and your precious child, Jesus Christ.' The child asked her to say the Pater Noster and then the angel's (agel) greeting (the Ave Maria), which she did, and he prayed the Ave along with her, turning toward his mother. And when she said 'Et penedictos fructos ventris toi etc., (14) very good, very fine is he who was placed inside you, Jesus Christ', the child said, 'It is I. I was inside you'. The child then disappeared, leaving the woman very content. The text concludes: 'Here it is quite evident that the angel's greeting, the Ave Maria, greatly gladdens our lord, because he wanted to say it too. Thus he taught us that we should do it willingly'. (71r-72v)
An introductory statement attributes this narrative to Saint Anselm; a version is in the fifteenth-century collection of Sanchez de Vercial (1961: 217). The Ave Maria is featured in many Marian miracle narratives; often, as in number 2 above, its recital by an otherwise immoral or incompetent person helps to secure Mary's favor (Power 1928: xxviii; other Nahuatl examples are Sermones y santoral en mexicano n.d.: 283v-4r, 287v). Here Christ participates in revering his mother, appearing, as in numbers 2 and 4 above, in the form of a child under his mother's authority. The woman emulates Mary by holding the Christ child in her arms, as Mary does in so many of her images. The child himself emphasizes Mary's maternal status by speaking of how he was once inside her body.
6. Some people were traveling by boat to Jerusalem, including a bishop (obispo) and many nobles. When the water was about to break the boat, the bishop and some of the others got into a lifeboat (acaltontli, 'little boat'), but one person fell into the water while trying to get in and remained submerged. Those who remained in the ship were crying out to heaven; as it sank the bishop saw the souls of the drowned flying to heaven as little doves. Arriving on shore, he and his companions found their friend whom they had thought drowned alive and well. He (15) explained: 'When I fell in the water, then I called out the name of our mother, Saint Mary. When I fell I remembered her name. She does not forget her precious ones, she is very fond of them. There in the water she descended on me. She covered me with a mantle (tilmatica). Thereupon here to the shore she went covering me, thus she brought me here'. The survivors greatly praised Mary. The text then incorporates some additional praises of Mary and also brief references to other miracles: her having saved Rome from an epidemic following a procession with the image that Saint Luke painted of her (from Santa Maria Maggiore) and her curing a child of pestilence after he prayed the Ave Maria. (72v-74r)
This shipwreck story was popular among editors of exempla, appearing for example in the Scala celi (Gobius 1480), the widely used fifteenth-century compilation by the Dominican Johannes Herolt (who borrowed it from the thirteenth-century Speculum historiale of Vincent of Beauvais; Herolt 1928: 64-5), and the thirteenth-century Castilian poetry of Gonzalo de Berceo (1944: 137-45). The association of souls of the dead with birds, common in the Old World (Warner 1976: 38), was also an indigenous concept: the souls of those who died in battle or sacrifice rose to the home of the sun and after four years returned as birds (Sahagun 1950-82: III, 49; Burkhart 1992). A second quasi-indigenous motif is the mantle with which Mary rescues her devotee, here labeled a tilmahtli, the rectangular cape worn by indigenous people and, in the colony, a marker of ethnic status.
7. A noble who had entered a convent of Cistercians (in innecentlalliayan in padreme y motenehua cisterciences, 'their gathering place, the fathers who are called Cistercians') fell ill and worried about all the sins he had committed in his life outside. Mary appeared and comforted him. Later, when his abbot (itepanicacauh ) asked him why he was so happy, he explained how Mary had consoled him because he always knelt when he heard her name, thus honoring her. He then commended his soul to Mary, praying to her. The text goes on to explain how souls in Purgatory cry out to Mary, and adds another short narrative about a Franciscan who told 'me'--probably the author of the text being adapted rather than the Nahua writer himself--that, once when he was doing contemplative exercises, he looked into Purgatory and saw the souls weeping and crying out to Saint Mary, intoning the Salve Regina prayer. (74r-75r)
Here, again, is Mary as the 'Sinner's Friend', assuring the salvation of a sinful man who showed devotion to her. The story, without the addendum about Purgatory, is in Herolt (1928: 103-4). The Cistercians had no houses in New Spain at the time this manuscript was written, (17) which makes this story somewhat alien to the Nahua context. However, it may be noted that this man, like the robber in narrative 2, is called a pilli, 'noble' (he is labeled a knight in Herolt), and he is said only to enter a convent, not actually to become a priest.
8. Pope Boniface asked the Roman emperor to allow him to assign a temple (Diablo calli, 'devil house') of Diana to Saint Mary. But when he was about to bless the house, Jews were arguing with the Christians, claiming that Joseph was Jesus's father and that Mary was not a virgin. A blind person was going about reprimanding the Jews. The Christians prayed that he (18) be made to see so that the Jews would believe. On the Feast of the Purification (porificanon) the blind one was brought out to stand before the altar. He knelt before the image of Saint Mary and sang the hymn sung on this festival. The Latin words Gaude maria (19) are followed by a Nahuatl translation of the song, which praises Mary for destroying heretics, believing the words of Saint Gabriel, and giving birth as a virgin. The song concludes with 'May they all be ashamed, the Jews, the wicked ones, who say that Jesus Christ is the child of Joseph'. Then the blind one was able to see. Then 6,010 Jews believed (converted). (75v-77r)
Whether Mary herself has any direct role in this miracle is not specified, but the miracle is performed to uphold an aspect of her worship. A partially cognate story is told in Herolt (see notes 18 and 19). In Mexico the old temples were torn down and new churches built, but often on or near the same site and reusing the same materials. Thus, the story of the conversion of a pagan goddess's temple to Mary's worship would have had local resonance, perhaps particularly in respect to the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe founded in the mid-1550s: some colonial observers, most famously Sahagun, assumed (perhaps wrongly) that a temple to a preconquest goddess had previously occupied the site (Burkhart 1993: 207-9; Poole 1995: 78-81). As in narrative 3, the Jews here can symbolize any unbaptized people, including those of New Spain. Weckmann describes a number of miracles attributed to friars active in the evangelization of Mexico; these include restoration of sight to the blind (1984: 281, 320-38).
The February 2 Feast of the Purification (also known as Candelaria in Spanish), which commemorated Mary's participation in the Judaic post-partum rite and the elder Simeon's recognition of Christ as the messiah (Luke 2: 22-39), was celebrated by Christian Nahuas. Texts for it are included in Sahagun's 1583 Psalmodia christiana (1993: 52-57) and fray Juan de la Anunciacion's 1577 sermonario (136v-138v); Motolinia describes Nahuas' reverence for the candles blessed at church on this festival (1979: 55).
The anti-Semitism evident in this story, as well as in narratives 2 and 3, reflects medieval European prejudices but was by no means alien to Nahuas, who witnessed the Mexican Inquisition's persecutions of 'crypto-Jews' and were taught by their priests that the Jews killed Christ (Burkhart 1996: 227-8, 260-2, 266).
Exactly what Nahuas made of these stories is impossible to determine. But a certain conception of the 'marvelous', and of Mary as a sacred personage, must have been emerging. Images come to life, dead children revive, the wicked reform their ways, the drowning are rescued, the depths of the underworld are revealed. These are not chance encounters; nor are they omens of ill fortune indicating disorder in the cosmos, chaos sowed by such figures as Tezcatlipoca or the female 'filth deity' Tlahzolteotl. Rather, these encounters are fervently desired and prayed for, to a figure far less capricious and far more indulgent than preconquest deities. A representative of celestial order, Mary acts to correct crises and confusions in the earthly realm. Although she often favors Christian religious specialists, she also bestows her mercies on ordinary people, some of whom could as easily be Nahuas as anything else. Marvels occur in answer to prayers; no accompanying ritual offerings or penitential precautions, so central to preconquest encounters with the deities, appear to be necessary. One speaks directly to Mary, and she answers. Devotion is a personal, even a private, matter, and is free of danger.
These simple stories bore a message about the nature of the Christian sacred that was at once reassuring and revolutionary. Pray the Ave Maria, or perform other easy acts of devotion, and the noblewoman, our mother Saint Mary, might aid you in your time of direst need. This message was surely part of her appeal to the unschooled Europeans among whom these legends first flourished. But for Nahuas, this meant that the entire apparatus of communal ritual and community identity, which they had largely transferred from the old deities to the Christian saints, was irrelevant. Even adherence to moral dictates, whether those of traditional Nahua society or those expounded from the pulpit, was not necessarily required, provided one ultimately repents (and confesses). To the extent that any Nahuas took this message to heart, the friars' goal of undermining kinship and community bonds to promote a more individualized and personalized identity was advanced. At the same time, though, the stories undermine the friars' and the Church's own authority. It was easy to forget, and miracle narratives themselves rarely point out, that Mary had no power in her own right but achieved her ends only through appeals to God. Moreover, the belief that devotion to Mary ensured one's salvation was, strictly speaking, heretical, for it overrode the more formal avenues of absolution and salvation controlled by the priesthood.
In 1572 Pedro Ocharte, a printer from Rouen, France, who published a number of Nahuatl imprints (the Rosary text copied into the John Carter Brown Library manuscript is attributed to his press) was tried and tortured by the Mexican Inquisition under its zealous founder, Pedro Moya de Contreras. Ocharte was accused of reading 'Lutheran' books and questioning the intercession of the saints. Ironically, he was also interrogated for having printed, the previous year, a single-leaf woodcut of Our Lady of the Rosary that went too far in the opposite direction. At issue was the caption of the image, which read: Estas cuentas son sin cuenta, En valor y eficacia, El pecador que os reza, Jamas le faltara gracia, 'These beads are without limit in value and efficacy. The sinner who prays to you will never lack grace'. Ocharte insisted that he had intended no harm to the Church, but his generous tribute to the Virgin helped to land him and his business in a great deal of trouble.(20)
Tensions that existed in the Old World between the popular cult of Mary and the patriarchal church hierarchy, which sought to affirm God's power by restricting her role to that of intercessor, clearly carried over into New Spain, and Nahuas were at least as likely to be confused as the unfortunate Ocharte. In this atmosphere of conflicting opinions, Christian Nahuas were left to construct, from the texts and other information made available to them, their own conceptions of the celestial noblewoman. Miracle narratives presented a Mary close to that of Ocharte's heretical woodcut, a 'Sinner's Friend' who swept into her devotees' lives to work wonders.
1.A detailed account of the European background of Marian worship and miracle narratives is beyond the scope of this paper. My understanding of this context derives mainly from the following sources: Power (1928), Warner (1976), Christian (1981), Montoya Martínez (1981), Ward (1982), Goodich (1995), and Pelikan (1996). Original source materials I have examined include Johannes Gobius (1480), Little (1908), Bernard Pez (1925), Johannes Herolt (1928), Caesarius of Heisterbach (1929), Gonzalo de Berceo (1944), Sanchez de Vercial (1961), and Jacobus de Voragine (1993).
2.My initial work with this manuscript was supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library in 1988. I am grateful to Norman Fiering, Daniel Slive, and all the library staff for their help and support during my fellowship tenure and in the years since.
3.In this paper when I quote a particular Nahuatl source, I reproduce the orthography of that source. I have, however, written out abbreviated words in full, inserted spaces between words, and removed spaces within words. In other contexts I employ a standardized orthography (showing glottal stops but not vowel length).
4.I am grateful to R. Joe Campbell for running a computer search of the Florentine Codex for me on the term tlamahuizolli.
5.variant of ce.
6.from Spanish sacerdote.
7.Nahuatl idiom for confession, used for a preconquest form as well as the Christian sacrament (see Burkhart 1989).
8.Mary's blood, but possibly the child's; the wording is ambiguous.
9.tetlacuihcuiliani in standard orthography.
10.In the original Latin, he first feigns joy but rises in the middle of the night to kill the child with his sword (Gobius 1480).
11.The child's gender is not specified in the Nahuatl; in Gobius the child is male.
12.The motif of a Jewish woman calling upon mary for help in childbirth is also in Herolt (1928:35-36), in a narrative borrowed from Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum historiale.
13.Motolinia (1979: 176-81) is the original and principal source; he is followed, and elaborated upon, by Mendieta (1980: 236-45), Torquemada (1975-83: V, 132-56), and others, including the Spanish judge Alonso de Zorita, a Franciscan sympathizer, who incorporated Motolinia's account into his Relación de la Nueva España (Baudot 1995: 390; the relationship between the two versions is documented in Motolinia 1989).
14.'Blessed is the fruit of your womb, etc.', with misspellings in the Latin.
15.The person's gender is ambiguous in the Nahuatl; in European versions it is a man.
16.The Nahuatl means 'his one who stands over people'. In Herolt's version of the story, the interlocutor is the abbot. As one of his definitions for Abad prelado o dignidad, 'abbot, prelate, or dignitary', Molina gives teoyotica tepan ycac, 'one who stands over people in a sacred way' (1971: 1r).
17.That is, I can find no reference to them.
18.Gender is not specified in the Nahuatl but the source probably referred to a man. A cognate story in Herolt tells of a blind man named Didymus (1928: 52-3).
19.The cognate text in Herolt labels this song as the responsory Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas hereses (1928: 53).
20.The complete Inquisition proceedings are published in Fernández del Castillo (1982: 85-141); see also Greenleaf (1969); the woodcut is reproduced in BenÌtez (1984: 21); on Moya de Contreras see Poole (1987).
Anunciación, Juan de la (1577), Sermonario en lengua mexicana, Mexico City, Antonio Ricardo.
Baudot, Georges (1995), Utopia and History in Mexico: The First Chronicles of Mexican Civilization, 1520-1569, trans. Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano and Thelma Ortiz de Montellano, Niwot, Colo., University Press of Colorado.
Bautista, Juan (1606), Sermonario en lengua mexicana, Mexico City, Diego
______ (1979), 'Algunas abusiones antiguas', in Teogonía e historia de los mexicanos, ed. Angel María Garibay K., Mexico City, Editorial Porrúa.
Benítez, Fernando (1984), Historia de la ciudad de México, volume 2, Mexico City, Salvat.
Berceo, Gonzalo de (1944), Milagros de Nuestra Señora, ed. A. G. Solalinde, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe.
Burkhart, Louise M. (1989), The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral
Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico, Tucson, University of Arizona Press.
______ (1992), 'Flowery Heaven: The Aesthetic of Paradise in Nahuatl Devotional Literature', Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 21:88-109.
______ (1993), 'The Cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico,' in South and Meso-American Native Spirituality: From the Cult of the Feathered Serpent to the Theology of Liberation, ed. Gary H. Gossen and Miguel León-Portilla, New York, Crossroad.
______ (1995), 'The Voyage of Saint Amaro: A Spanish Legend in Nahuatl Literature', Colonial Latin American Review 4: 29-57.
______ (1996), Holy Wednesday: A Nahua Drama from Early Colonial Mexico, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.
Caesarius of Heisterbach (1929), The Dialogue on Miracles, trans. H. von E. Scott and C. C. Swinton Bland, introduction by G. G. Coulton, 2 volumes, London, George Routledge & Sons.
Christian, William A., Jr. (1981), Apparitions in Late Medieval and Renaissance Spain, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.
Dávila Padilla, Augustín (1955), Historia de la fundacion y discurso de la provincia de Santiago de Mexico, de la orden de predicadores, Mexico City, Editorial Academia Literaria.
Doctrina, evangelios y epistolas en nahuatl (n.d.), Codex Indianorum 7, The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, Providence, R.I.
Fernández del Castillo, Francisco, ed. (1982), Libros y libreros en el siglo xvi, Mexico City: Archivo General de la Nación and Fondo de Cultura Económica.
Gante, Pedro de (1981), Doctrina cristiana en lengua mexicana (edición facsimilar de la de 1553), ed. Ernesto de la Torre Villar, Mexico City, Centro de Estudios Históricos Fray Bernardino de Sahagún.
Gobius, Johannes (1480), Scala celi, Ulm, Johann Zainer.
Goodich, Michael E. (1995), Violence and Miracle in the Fourteenth Century: Private Grief and Public Salvation, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Greenleaf, Richard E. (1969), The Mexican Inquisition of the Sixteenth Century, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press.
Herolt, Johannes (1928), Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ed. and trans. C. C. Swinton Bland, introduction by Eileen Power, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Lasso de la Vega, Luis (1649), Huei Tlamahuiçoltica omonexiti in ilhuicac tlatocacihuapilli Santa Maria, Mexico City, Juan Ruiz.
Little, A. G., ed. (1908), Liber exemplorum ad usum praedicantium, Aberdeen, Typis Academicis.
López Austin, Alfredo (1967), 'Cuarenta clases de magos del mundo náhuatl', Estudios de cultura náhuatl 7: 87-117.
Mendieta, Gerónimo de (1980), Historia eclesiástica indiana, ed. JoaquÌn García Icazbalceta, Mexico City, Editorial Porrúa.
Molina, Alonso de (1971), Vocabulario en lengua castellana y mexicana y mexicana y castellana, ed. Miguel León-Portilla, Mexico City, Editorial Porrúa.
Montoya Martínez, Jesús (1981), Las colecciones de milagros de la Virgen en la edad media (el milagro literario), Granada, Spain, Universidad de Granada.
Motolinia (Toribio de Benavente) (1979), Historia de los indios de la Nueva España, ed. Edmundo O'Gorman, Mexico City, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
______ (1989), El libro perdido: Ensayo de reconstrucción de la obra histórica extraviada de fray Toribio, ed. Edmundo O'Gorman, Mexico City, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes.
Pelikan, Jaroslav (1996), Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture, New Haven, Yale University Press.
Pez, Bernard (1925), Liber de miraculis Sanctae Dei Genitricis Mariae, ed. Thomas Frederick Crane, Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University Press.
Poole, Stafford, C. M. (1995), Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797, Tucson, University of Arizona Press.
______ (1987), Pedro Moya de Conteras: Catholic Reform and Royal Power in New Spain, 1571-1591, Berkeley, University of California Press.
Power, Eileen (1928), 'Introduction,' in Johannes Herolt, Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ed. and trans. C. C. Swinton Bland, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Sahagún, Bernardino de (1950-82), Florentine Codex, General History of the Things of New Spain, ed. and trans. Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble, 12 volumes, Santa Fe, N.M., School of American Research and University of Utah.
______ (1993), Psalmodia Christiana (Christian Psalmody) , ed. and trans. Arthur J. O. Anderson, Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press.
Sánchez de Vercial, Clemente (1961), Libro de los exenplos por A.B.C. , ed. John Esten Keller, Madrid, Clásicos Hispánicos.
Santaballa, Sylvia (1995), 'Nican Motecpana: Nahuatl Miracles of the Virgin of Guadalupe', Latin American Indian Literatures Journal 11: 34-54.
Sermones y santoral en mexicano (n.d.), Manuscript M-M 464, The Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California.
Siméon, Rémi (1977), Diccionario de la lengua nahuatl o mexicana, trans. Josefina Oliva de Coll, Mexico City, Siglo Veintiuno.
Torquemada, Juan de (1975-83), Monarquía indiana, Mexico City, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Voragine, Jacobus de (1993), The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. William Granger Ryan, 2 volumes, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.
Ward, Benedicta (1982), Miracles and the Medieval Mind: Theory, Record and Event 1000-1215, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.
Warner, Marina (1976), Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, New York, Vintage Books.
Weckmann, Luis (1984), La herencia medieval de México, 2 volumes, Mexico City, El Colegio de Mexico.
Prayer to Mary
(1r) Oh be happy, you, Mary, you are the treasure, you are the hope of the people of the world. Oh be happy, you, Mary, it greatly surpasses, how you are merciful, how you are pitying, and how you are generous. For you are the mother of Jesus Christ. You alone merited to be his mother, and no one else merited it. Oh be happy! You are the ruler of the angels, and you are the consoler of sinners. Greatly I pray to you, before you I kneel, console me, for my sins make me weep, they make me anxious, how I offended (1v) your precious child. And I am very afraid, I am very frightened, and I remember his anger. Because indeed he alone I have offended. Oh Saint Mary, oh always a maiden, do not abandon me, keep my soul, and give me what is worthy, so that I will live prudently on earth. And strengthen me so that I will be able to push away sin, and so that I will be able to love what is good, right, worthy of love. For you are the curer of sinners. Cure me also, speak for me so that I will not go to hell. Oh, oh Jesus Christ, oh child of God, I pray to your precious mother so that she will pray to you, so that you will have mercy on me. And indeed I weep very much, I pray to you fervently now, for I believe that you are truly a god, that you are truly a savior, and that you are truly merciful. Have mercy on me, for I am truly a sinner. Pardon my sins, and inspire me to good. And give me your gift, spes, which means hope, so that it will always be strong inside me, and so that in you alone I will trust. And want that very correct belief be with me, and very correct love, so that I will love you, and I will love others, like you want. And thus I greatly pray to you, oh merciful one, want that my life be good, be pure, and my soul at my judgment. And the angel that you gave me, my guardian, may it greatly protect me so that the tlatlacatecolo do not take me, so that it just carry me among the good, the righteous, your precious ones, so that I will be wealthy forever in your home in heaven. Amen.
Another prayer to Mary
(10r) You are the mother of God. You are our female ruler, you, Saint Mary. Greatly I bow down to you, greatly I pray to you. For you are great, you are completely good, you are quite honorable, there is no one like you, in heaven, on earth. It is a great miracle that he by whom one lives, God, the father, the child, the holy spirit, three persons, a sole god, placed with you when he placed you within your mother Saint Ann. Your soul was completely pure, with no marrow, no shadow. And when you were born, you were already a saint, you were already honorable, you were already respectable. And when you were living, you were a child, you were a kid, no childishness, no kiddishness appeared with you. Still in your childhood you were prudent, you were peaceful. And when you were a maiden a great miracle appeared with you. No one is like you anywhere in the world, how you are possessor of a proper life. Indeed quite great is your array with which your god, your ruler adorned you, in the darkness, then such did he placed his heart that you would become his mother, so that he would take you as his mother, so that he would become a man inside you. And when it was time, when the time had arrived for it to happen, to you God the father sent a messenger, he sent the angel Saint Gabriel, he gave you the words of God the father and upon you descended God the holy spirit. It greatly strengthened your precious soul. And when you had received the words of your god, your ruler, with which Saint Gabriel addressed you, you said, "Let it be done to me, what my god, my ruler wants, for I am his vassal." Then God the child became your child, he became a man within you, in the month of March. He was inside you for nine months. He was born in the tenth month, which is called December. But nothing happened to your maidenhood. He entered you wondrously, he went out of you just wondrously. And now you are always a maiden. You brought up your child, God. For 33 years before you he taught people, before you he did very many marvelous things, before you he died on the cross. On the third day before you he revived, on the fortieth day before you he ascended to heaven. Your precious child Jesus on the tenth (?) before you he sent the holy spirit upon the Apostles, and also before you began the Christian lifestyle. And when you died many miracles were done to you. And your precious body did not rot on earth, for by order of your precious child you revived. Your body, your soul are together there in heaven, you sit to the right of your precious child, our rescuer Jesus Christ. You are our intercessor. When the world ends before you your precious child will judge people. And now, oh noblewoman, oh precious one, oh mother of God, what will I say in order to be able to praise you, to greet you? Indeed, I like that with which the angel Saint Gabriel greeted you, and how Saint Elizabeth greeted you, as our mother holy church prays to you. Oh Saint Mary, Oh be happy, you are full of grace.
[The following is the second in series of three miracle narratives]
(22v) Here is the second marvel. It happened to a nun (cihuamadre 'woman-mother')
(23r) There lived a person, called an Abbess (avatesa), whose life was very good. And she lived with someone, her niece, who was also a nun (cihuamadre), whose life was also very good. But the tlacatecolotl deceived her niece. She committed a mortal sin. She had relations with a man. And when she had done this she was very ashamed, she went about very sick at heart because she had done this sin. She went about weeping very much, she went about sad, she went about doing penance. But even though she went about doing penance, she did not want to straighten her heart. The sin so shamed her that she would just say within herself, "Oh how wretched I am! How will I straighten my heart? For everyone speaks well of me. Let me not reveal my sin before the heart-straightener, so that they will not consider me wicked. Let me just devote myself to doing penance for it. I will pray to God. Perhaps thus he will pardon me." And since she went about so sad because of her sin, she took sick. And when she had become sick she straightened her heart. But she did not reveal that great sin. She just omitted it for shame. Thereupon she approached he body of our rescuer Jesus Christ, she just approached it in sin. And thereupon her soul went directly to the place of the dead. And her aunt, the abess, who was with the nuns, (23v) greatly desired to know where her soul had gone. And for a year she would pray to our mother Saint Mary to tell her where the soul of her niece had gone. And once she saw in her sleep our mother Saint Mary. She said to her, "Greatly have you prayed to me, as you want to know where your niece's soul went. And now come and see her soul (ianiman)." She took her there to the place of the dead. She went to show her many places where souls suffer. And she took her to another place which was very deep. And from it emerged a great stench. And within it there was much crying out. And the nun, the abbess then looked inside it. She saw very many people who were there. Among the others she also saw her niece, lying tied with chains, on her belly. And she was she stood on her belly (or her belly just stood burning?). And her tongue was burning. And she was crying out greatly. And the nun, when she had seen this, then she prayed to our mother St. Mary, "Tell me, my precious mother, who is this who suffers so?" Then she said, "It is your niece." And then the nun was very frightened. And then she said to the noblewoman, "Why did my niece come here? For she lived very well on earth." And our mother Saint Mary then said, "Because she committed one mortal sin. Because she did not straighten her heart, she just omitted it for shame. Thus she came here. She will suffer forever. As you see her now she will be always. It will never end. Because she did not reveal her secret, her sin, before people she will be crying out. And her tongue will always burn." And when our mother Saint Mary had spoken thus to the nun, then she woke up. Never again did she pray on account of that niece of hers to whom this had happened.
Festival of the Assumption
(53v) Assuptiunis b.te ma.e senper vir.ginis. p.mo. tha. E doc. de custodia animam meam. vt cofiteat. noifou me expectat. Justi vt mihi retribuas.
This is the prayer to the precious mother of our lord, Saint Mary. They(?) went about saying it when she ascended to heaven, and the other songs that David wrote by precious order of the holy spirit. Quem admondom..tesiderat animam cernos. ad totes aquaron ynta desiterat. animam mea. ad. te deus meus effuerut mihi lachriyme epanes. dicac noctendum dicit mihi quotidie vbie deus duus. Many other things are said in the Latin words which cannot go in the words here in Mexico. All the words that David wrote will be said. They mean, "Oh my lord, oh God, now they are watching me, the angels, the saints who are in heaven, therefore by you bring out my soul. It is as if in jail, as if it lies in prison. (54r) No one will so praise your name." Know why our lord did not take his precious mother when he ascended. He just left her still on earth. There are four reasons. First, so she would console, she would strengthen the apostles. They were filled with the holy spirit, they went about very consoled, with Saint Mary, God's precious mother. Second, so that she would teach the scribes of God, the evangelists, the Gospel. For our mother taught them some of it. For the evangelists did not see everything that our lord Jesus Christ did, how for our sake he became a man, he came to live here on earth, even though the holy spirit was within them, for God wanted it to be done like this, to be like this. Third, so that she would cause to believe, so that she would strengthen the martyrs. For she went about strengthening them very much, those whom the wicked ones were going about afflicting, were going about killing. Fourth, so that she would be known, for the apostles were scattered, so they would be able to teach the people everywhere in the world. They went about saying, "Today the precious mother of Jesus Christ, our rescuer, is living. There she is, in the very great city, the place called Jerusalem." Therefore many people came from far away, (54v) who wanted to see her. Like Saint Dionisio did, when Saint Paul taught him there in the city, the place called Athens. Then he greatly wanted to go to see her. And when he had seen her, he was thus very well satisfied. They were saying, "she is God." If Saint Paul did not teach them, if he did not tell them she is not a god, just a precious creation of God, they would have worshipped her, they would have said, "She is God, Saint Mary. For her face is very pure, a very great illumination emerges from it. Other women are not like this." And when her heart was damaged, he by whom one lives took his precious mother to his home in heaven. First Saint Gabriel the archangel (algansel) came. He came to say to her, "He wants you to live with him. You will ascend to his house." He greeted her very much, he gave her a heavenly palm, a heavenly acorn called "palma," this palm was heavenliness with which she would gladden God's precious ones. And to the precious mother of our lord Jesus Christ Saint Gabriel said that no demon would appear before her when she died. And then by order of our lord God the angels closed up the demons there in the place of the dead. And then as the heavenly noblewoman wanted all the Apostles to see her when she was about to die, and God wanted it, and just then a cloud came carrying Saint John the Evangelist, who was living far away in a place called Ephesus, it came to place him before Saint Mary. Likewise the other apostles came in clouds, came to arrive suddenly before the heavenly noblewoman, wondrously they were assembled, thus they were astonished. Thus they said, "What's that? What does our lord God want?" And Saint Mary satisfied them as to why they were brought together. She showed the heavenly palm, called "palma," to her precious Saint John, always a youth. And Saint John said to them, "Our precious mother will die." Thereupon they wept. And then the angels prepared her sepulcher. Then a cloud entered (55v), very white, very shiny. It covered Saint Mary's body. Thus the wicked ones did not see her pure body. They would have burned it. Her body was covered with a cloud, thus the wicked-hearted ones, the Jews, did not do what they would have done to the body of the always-maiden. Thus she died happily, as if she just went to sleep, our precious mother. Thus her weeping ceased, went away. Our precious mother went about weeping very much when the hateful ones would say to her, "Which is your child?" Thus she went about saying E doc de custodiat animam menam etc. Know that through sin death began. But our precious mother Saint Mary was not a sinner. The way her body died, God did not want it to be like that. For no sin reached her. Therefore she would not die. We, we die because of the beginning of sin, called original, which our first father, our first mother left to us. But St. Mary, (56r) God kept her well, so that no sin reached her. Therefore she would not do penance, she would not be sick, her body would not die. Know that for two reasons God wanted his precious mother to die. First, so it would not be said that she is not a woman, like women. As God wanted the man Jesus Christ when he died for our sake, likewise it well appeared that St. Mary is truly a woman, for she died. And second, so she would be equal to her precious child, who wanted to die for our sake even though he is God, and she is just a creation. Would she perhaps have surpassed him? No. And thus through her we strengthen ourselves, we go about following behind her quite willingly, we do not fear our death because we know that our precious mother Saint Mary died. How much more(?) we sinners will die. And when she died she did not suffer, she did not become sad, like sinners do. She just died happily, just (56v) like she was going to sleep. We know everything that happened to our precious mother, how she died, for God's precious one Saint Dionisio wrote it. He saw how she died, he was with the apostles. Vt videnbis in mariallin imonario de postis. And what happened when Jesus came on the wind to meet her. How will it be said? For it surpasses our understanding. It cannot be said how each of the residents of heaven honored our precious mother St. Mary, the noblewoman. Her body revived on the third day, like the Saints say, they go about remembering. What happened to the bodies of the saints, we know that they are kept on earth, like Saint James there in Compostela. But the body of Saint Mary does not appear on earth, thus we say that within heaven the body of our precious mother entered.
Festival of the Assumption, second text
In festo assuptionnis virginis mae p.mo der secunda eius exaltatione super omnes cellos. thema Que en ista que progreditor etc.
The rulers in heaven, God's precious ones, the angels, marveled greatly
at Saint Mary. Their song is said every day. que eista/. to c, which means,
"Who is this that our lord, our ruler Jesus Christ is bringing hapily? For
her illumination surpasses all illumination, it greatly surpasses the sun,
the moon." And all God's precious ones greatly marveled at Saint Mary
because she greatly surpasses all who lie in heaven, and no one is like her
on earth. Today God took her up. All the angels thus raise a song today:
Epaltata est sancta dei genitrix. And so that it would be remembered
everywhere in the world, how he by whom one lives installed Saint Mary as
ruler, today is a very great festival, called asuption, which means, the
ascent of Saint Mary. Each year it is remembered everywhere in the world.
Know that when it had reached 53 years that our precious mother had gone
about doing penance on earth, she greatly desired heavenly living. Always
her heart went about falling for her precious child, our rescuer Jesus
Christ, her true god, her maker, as he is God. And Saint Mary, he is her
precious child as he is a man. And when God wanted her to come with him,
first he sent his nephew the angel, whose name is Saint Gabriel, who is very
pure, from him emerges a very great illumination. He came to greatly
console Saint Mary. (58r) He knelt before her, he said to her, "Oh be
happy, you precious mother of God who is everywhere truly all-powerful.
Your god sent me so you would know that now it has arrived, in three days
before him you will happily come. And behold the heavenly frond, which is
very shiny, by which the apostles will see that now your precious child is
calling you. And even though your body will die, you will not suffer by it
because sin has never reached you. You are not like the sinners on earth.
And your soul and your body will ascend together to heaven." And Saint Mary
thus greatly thanked he by whom one lives. Then she greatly prayed that the
apostles and God's precious ones everywhere in the world would come before
her. They were living scattered far and wide, they went to teach people.
And the angel wondrously, with illumination, ascended to heaven before her.
And Saint Mary, just wondrously the apostles came before her. (58v) First
came Saint John the Evangelist, her guardian, always a youth. And she
showed him the very pure heavenly frond. He marveled greatly. Likewise the
rest of God's precious ones, when they found out that his precious mother
was about to go, before her they wept very much. And each one praised her,
knelt before her. They greeted her with her salutation. And Saint Mary
greatly consoled all of them, she strengthened them. Then Saint Mary knelt
before our lord. With prayer she said to him, In mannos toas dñe commento
spu meum, which means, "Oh our lord, you who made me, keep my soul, my
spirit (noyollia), which I entrust to you. And my body, you wanted to
become flesh within it, I entrust it to you." And when it was a little dark
in Saint Mary's house, on a cloud all the saints very much everywhere spread
about rejoicing. (59r) And then our lord Jesus Christ and all his precious
ones, the angels, and some saints came down to her. Then they gathered
before Saint Mary, in order joyfully to raise a heavenly song so that the
soul of Saint Mary would come forth happily. And then our lord Jesus Christ
was the first to choose the song. He said singing, Veni electa mean otposia
ytote omo meum. Which means, "Come, oh my precious mother, oh be happy with
me, for I love you very much." And Saint Mary answered him, she said, Eruto
dñe cur meum partu cor meum which means, "My lord and ruler, possessor of
the near, possessor of the surrounding, let it be done as you want. For
before you my heart is prepared. May you consent to it." And then before
her all the saints said singing Hec est qui necipuit toroinolelictotum etc
which means, "She is always a maiden, she never lost it as a maiden. And
because she is the precious mother of him by whom one lives, she surpasses
all who lie in heaven, our lord God's precious ones. Indeed, she is a
heavenly royal noblewoman and everywhere in the world." And Saint Mary said
Ecce enim ex hoc beata me dice oes generationes [Luke 1:48], which means,
"Behold therefore all people everywhere will say that I am favored. Now
already always everywhere I am honored. Already I am properly prayed to, as
I am greeted, I am addressed. Because all-powerful God favored me, honored
me. For he made me his mother." Once again our lord raised as song his
song. He said, "Oh my precious motehr, come happily, leave the place of
affliction. Acend to my place of riches, to my place of happiness. Let me
place on you your golden flower crown." Then Saint Mary said to our lord
God, "I am coming now, always by your will I lived on earth. And now also,
very much with you, with your riches you made my spirit." And thereupon
Saint Mary's spirit happily came out. Nothing reached it of sadness even
though her body died, happiness was always with her because sin never
reached her. And the apostles and the others saw the heart of Saint Mary,
it was very pure, and its illumination greatly surpassed our words. It
cannot be said at all. And the apostles were weeping with joy, they were
raising in song her song. They said Virgo prodentissima quo progrederis
etc. which means, "Oh always a maiden, oh mother of God, where are you
going? For you shine greatly. Pray for us to our lord, we who are sad here
on earth." And Saint Mary blessed them. Then the precious ones of he by
whom one lives ascended to heaven. They sang, they raised (60v) her song.
Que est ista etc., which means, "Who is it who comes rising from earth, with
whom is all happiness?" by her precious child, etc. Then the others intoned
her song, they were saying as song, "The heavenly noblewoman, mother
everywhere, indeed the precious mother of the rescuer Jesus Christ, her
purity surpasses all purity." And just happily into heaven with song her
spirit and her body ascended happily together. The precious one of he by
whom one lives ascended. And then wondrously on the wind there came to meet
her very many of those who lie in heaven, the angels and the saints,
residents of heaven, so many, the assembly of saints.
First, they who are called patriarchs, people who were saved when the earth was new, our first father, our first mother, Adam (61r) and Eve and the others. They greeted her, they said to her Bñdicta filia tua dño qz pte etc. Which means, "Fortunate are you, oh noblewoman. Our lord blessed you. Indeed through you we have merited the fruit of life, Jerusalem maiden."
And second there came to meet her the assembly of prophets, God's stone-removers(?), people of earth, on earth they went about teaching people, by order of he by whom one lives, what would happen, before our lord Jesus Christ came down, they said it first, through the holy spirit.
And third there came to meet her all the martyrs, they whom just for God, for the sake of truth, the non-believers greatly tormented, they who did not know God. But through their suffering they deserved heavenliness. Thus very surpassing is the rulership which God gave them.
And fourth there came to meet her (61v) they who are called Confessors, all who were saved on earth, whom our lord God favored.
Fifth, there came to meet her all the heavenly noblewoman, who are innumerable, who are called Virgins, maidens, because their penance was very great, thus they merited heavenly rulership.
Sixth there went to meet her all the angels, nine kinds, the heavenly precious nobles. 1st Angels, 2nd archangels, 3rd thrones, 4th dominations, 5th principalities, 6th powers, 7th virtues (virtotes), [8th] cherubim 9th seraphim.
They are very many in number; no one can count them, And our rescuer Jesus Christ came to meet his precious mother. It was like when a great ruler is newly installed in a great city, she/he is about to enter.Very many come to meet her/him, come to greet her/him. (62r) Each one greets her/him, praises her/him, honors her/him, receives her/him gladly. Therefore her/his vassals then take her/him gladly, they go singing to her/him.
Festival of the Visitation
In festo visitationis bte. marie virginis canticourum. Ecce iste uenit salies imotibos. transliliens colles. [Song of Songs 2:8-14]
Behold, she comes leaping on the mountaintop, she comes approaching over the rolling hills, my precious one, she equals the female goat and its child, the forest deer. Behold, behind our wall she stands, she stands watching hither, the windows, there she stands looking hither, at the wooden grate, at the mouth of the door. Behold, my precious one says to me, "Arise! Hurry, you my precious one, you my dove [reverentials, female speaking]. You are pure. Come! For the cold shadow water has left, the rain has gone, has left. The flowers have appeared, have grown on our land. Now it is time, it is the moment, things will be plucked, the cry of the turtle dove has been heard on our land. The fruits have grown, the figs [ynguera], the vineyards [huinomilli] are now flowering, they have spread about very fragrant. (63v) Arise! Hurry, you my precious one, you are pure. Come, you my dove. In the holes of the rocks, the holes, the doorways in the stones show me your face. Let me hear your cry. For your cry is quite delightful, and your face is pure."
(64r) Here is another marvel
(64v) And here are seven things by which it appears that Saint Mary really speaks for sinners, as it is told in a book. There was a noble, a robber, who did not fear God at all. He was very wicked. But his wife was a Christian. And she said to her husband, "Fast on the Sabbath, thus honor Saint Mary, and you will say the Ave Maria when you pass in front of the image of Saint Mary." And once somewhere he would have sinned, but he went past a church [ynglesia], he entered there, then he saw an image of Saint Mary carrying her child in her arms. And then he was about to greet her with the Ave Maria. Then he saw blood coming out. And it was her(?) blood, it was running on our mother. And he saw it. Then he was very afraid. (65r) He said, "Oh my precious mother, oh noblewoman, who did this?" And our precious mother then said to him, "You, and all of you who are not satisfied, who just very much still want to crucify my precious child. You surpass the Jews. For they only crucified him once. But you crucify him many more times, you just are not satisfied." And Saint Mary then wanted her blood to disappear. Thus it was not left. And the sinner, his sins greatly saddened him. Then he said to Saint Mary, "Oh fountain of mercy, oh maiden, pray for me to your precious child." And our mother Saint Mary said to him, "You sinners can say to me that I am merciful. You have never yet stopped afflicting me, worrying me." And then he said to her, "Let it not be, my precious mother. Let it not be as you said, let it not be as you thought. For you are (65v) the sinners' intercessor. Speak for me." And our mother then turned to her precious child, then she said to him, "My precious child, you love me very much. Have mercy on him for my sake, this sinner who prays to me." And then he said to her, "Oh my precious mother, let him not worry you, since I do not obey you, the way it happened to me when I prayed to my precious father that he not want me to die yet." And our mother then said, "My precious child, remember how I brought you up, and have mercy on this sinner." And our lord then said to her, "Truly I say to you, it is necessary that I not obey you." And his precious mother, then again she said to him, "My precious child, do not look for (66r) straightness, Justice (Justiçia). For you are very merciful." And our lord then said to her, "The third time I prayed to my precious father he did not listen at all to my humble prayer." And Saint Mary again said to him, "My precious child, remember how I worked by your side. Pardon this sinner." And our lord then said, "Oh my precious mother, do not worry me. Just remember, the third time when I prayed to my precious father, he did not obey me." And our mother then placed her child on the altar (altal). Then she knelt before him. Then she kissed his feet. And our lord, when he saw her, then he said, "Oh my precious mother, why are you doing that?" And then she said to him, Saint Mary said, "I will not give way if you do not have mercy on this sinner." And our lord then said, "Oh my mother, let it not be done so. As it is a commandment that mothers be known honorably (66v), and indeed you are my mother, it is necessary that I obey you, that I honor you." And then he said to her, "Truly, oh my precious mother, for your sake I have mercy on this sinner. Let his sins be pardoned. Let him live happily. And let him kiss my body where I suffered." And the sinner then went, he went to kiss his body where the holes were. And thereupon they were closed, his blood no longer came out. Then he greatly praised our lord and his precious mother. He thanked them very much. And then he went home. And when he had gone, then he left all his goods, he gave them away to others. Then he became a padre (patre). And his wife then entered the house of the women who live in a sacred way. They died in goodness when their lives were over.
Here is the second marvel
(67r) Here is another marvel, as it is told in the book called de scalla celli. A woman, a resident of Judea, was pregnant. And when she was about to give birth, she suffered very much. She just lay looking at her death. And when her neighbors heard her, then they came, they greeted her, and they said to her, "Pray to Saint Mary, for she is very merciful." And she said to Saint Mary, "Oh noblewoman, Saint Mary, have mercy on me, even though it is not my merit. For I am one of those who crucified your precious child. Very well do I know that you have mercy on sinners. And now if you will save me, truly I declare that we both will be baptized, [I and] my child." And all the time she was giving birth nothing happened. And her husband was not there, he was living far away. Thereupon she took her child, (67v) and they were both baptized. And when her husband came back, he found out that his wife and child were baptized. And then he took his sword, he beheaded the litle child with it. And his mother then cried out. And the neighbors heard, then they came running. And the man fled. And everywhere in the city he followed the walls, since he could not get out. So once again he returned. Then he was going about seeking a place to save himself. And somewhere he passed a church of our mother Saint Mary. Then he entered there, there he went to await those who wanted to seize him. Then he saw the image of Saint Mary. He was greatly strengthened by it, consoled by it. He said, "She will save me!" Thereupon he was praying to her. Then he said, "Alas! Oh how wretched I am! For I have sinned greatly, as I have killed my child. Alas! Oh Mary, you are very merciful. Do not push me away. For well do I know that your pity is very great. (68r) And know, by you, have mercy on me, like you had mercy on your precious child Saint Paul when he was greatly afflicting the Christians. For truly I believe that Jesus became flesh within you, and he was born but your maidenhood was not destroyed by it. And I also believe that he is truly God, that you went about watching him, he is very merciful." And while he was standing there weeping before Saint Mary, then came the lords, the rulers, the staff-bearers. They came to tie his hands there. And then he said, "Oh our lords, let me die, for I have truly sinned. The only thing I say is, let me be baptized [before] you kill me. Thus I will be satisfied. And if not........... [page is torn] (68v) in the prison they went to place him. And his wife was still looking at her child who lay fallen before her. Just calmly he lay stirring, then he arose. And then he laughed at his mother. And then he went to say to her, "Your husband has been baptized." She rejoiced greatly. She went out, taking her child by the hand, then she rushed him off to the palace where the lordly rulers were. And then she stood him before them. It appeared well where his father had cut his neck. And all the rulers who were lying there marveled very much. Then his father was brought out from there in the jail. And his child stood there before the people. He cried out greatly. He praised Saint Mary. He said, "Saint Mary is very merciful, consoling, always ........[page torn] (69r) they praised our mother Saint Mary. And his father, they didn't do anything to him. And very well he went about serving Saint Mary. And he roused himself very well, he placed many words with which he reprimanded the Jews, who do not want to believe in Jesus Christ. And his child also lived very well, he went about always serving the noblewoman, Saint Mary.
Festival of the Assumption
In festo assumptionis virginis marie ecclesiastici xxiii cap.? In omnibos requiem quesiui et inhereditate domini morabor etc. [Ecclesiasticus 24:11-20]
In all things I sought rest. And today I will live in our lord. ........ (torn page) ....creator said to me..
(70r) Put forth roots." God has not yet made any of his creations, I have already been made. And always forever I will be, I will never perish, and always in the place of good living before him I served. And in this way I was strengthened there at Sion. Likewise I rested there in the completely good city. And my power, my strength are there in Jerusalem. And I put forth roots in the wondrous city, which is the possession, the gift, which is with my lord God. And forever with all the saints I will live. Like a bald cypress thus I was exalted there in Lebanon, also like a cypress that grows there on the mountaintop in Sion, also like a palm, thus I was exalted there in Cades, or perhaps as if my name is Xochitl Rosa there in Jericho, like the pure olive that grows on the plain and like the plane tree that stands on the shore, thus I was exalted. Everywhere, in the market, thus I have become fragrant like cinnamon and balsam, very fragrant, like select myrrh thus I am very fragrant.
(70v) Behold the ninth chapter, where it is told that our mother Saint Mary
illuminates the confused. Here is told the ninth help of our precious
mother Saint Mary. There it is heard, in the book called Scala celli.
A person, a priest [saceltode], used to pray very much to the noblewoman Saint Mary. However, he was very confused about the Holy Sacrament. Therefore he was always praying to our precious mother Saint Mary that she help him. And when it was Saturday [Sapado] he was saying mass. And he was about to say the pater noster. Then the host [yn ostia], the sacrament, which he had blessed, disappeared. And when he watched this he was very frightened. He saw Saint Mary carrying her child in her arms. And she said to the priest [teopixqui]: 'Here is my child, the way he was born. It is he whom you have blessed. And many times you have touched him. With your hands you lift him up. Here, I am placing him in your hands. Finish the mass'. And the priest (teopixqui) then laid the little child on the altar. And when he would have broken the sacrament he saw that it was no longer like a child, but like a little tortilla. Thus he was very strengthened with belief, he believed very strongly in God. (70v-71r)
Saint Anselm says in a book where the wondrous deeds of our precious mother Saint Mary lie written, that a certain woman's heart went about falling very much to (71v) Saint Mary. She was always praying to her. And she would ask her for one thing, that her precious child Jesus Christ appear to her. Then she had gone about praying to her for a very long time, and once it happened. She stood praying there in church, she appeared to her, as she is very merciful, she has mercy on every person, she said to her, "Little woman, what you want will happen, because you believe well." And Jesus Christ then came appearing, like a little child, very shimmery, like an angel. The woman wanted very much to take him, to carry him in her arms. And so she rejoiced greatly. No one can say how consoled she was. Thereupon she carried him in her arms, she greatly thanked our lord Jesus Christ and his precious mother. She said to her, "Oh mother of God, Saint Mary, what will I give you, how can I return to you, (72r) how you have favored me so, you have shown me your precious child Jesus Christ." And when the little child was in her hands she was very joyful, she was very delighted. Then she embraced him. He said to her, "Say the pater noster. Thus I will be very joyful." Then she said it. Again he spoke to her, "Say yet the angel's greeting." Then she said, "Ave Maria gratia plena." And the little child then turned toward Saint Mary, what the woman was saying the little child was saying too. And when she said Et penedictos fructos ventris toi etc., "very good, very fine is that which was placed inside you, Jesus Christ," then the little child went to say, "It is I, I was inside you." When he said this, thus the woman was very well satisfied, contented. Thereupon he disappeared. Here it is quite evident that the angel's (72v) greeting, the Ave maria, greatly gladdens our lord, because he also wanted to say it. Thus he taught us, so we will do it willingly.
Marvel, fourth example [Exo]
Some people were traveling by ship, they were going to Jerusalem. And there in the ship were traveling a bishop and many nobles. And when the water was about to break the ship, then the bishop got out, he placed himself in a little boat that they had along, and some of the others. But one person, when he would have placed himself in the little boat he fell into the water, there he was submerged, he no longer surfaced. And all who were still in the ship were crying out to heaven. Then their ship filled with water, thus they were all submerged. Then the bishop cried, he was praying for the sake of their souls. And there in the water then (73r) he saw what were like little doves go flying, go ascending, go ascending to heaven. Then he well knew that they were the souls [ynanimame] of his friends who had died in the water. Thus he was weeping very much, he was saying, "Why did I not die with my friends, so that I too could have ascended to heaven?" And when they came out on the shore, then they saw their friend who had fallen in the water first. He was alive, he was not hurt anywhere. And when they saw him they were thus very afraid. Then they asked him what happened to him. Then he said, "When I fell in the water, then I cried out the name of our mother, Saint Mary. When I fell I thought of her name. She does not forget her precious ones, she is very fond of them. There in the water she descended upon me, she came to cover me with a mantle [tilmatica]. (73v) Thereupon here to the shore she went covering me, so she carried me hither." And when he had said this, then they greatly praised Saint Mary. Like they intone to our mother Saint Mary in the church when Completas is said, "Oh our mother, oh noblewoman, oh maiden, save us so that we do not perish" etc. Here, thus it appears how with the name of our mother Saint Mary sickness is pushed away. As God's precious Saint Bernard says, "If truly the sickness is very great, indeed it can be pushed away with the name of the noblewoman Saint Mary." Likewise he says, "When someone mentions the name of the noblewoman, the devils [diablome] don't do anything to one, and thus the sick are cured." As it is written in the book of Saint Gregory, when a very great sickness spread about in Rome, (74r) then there was a procession, they carried the image of Saint Mary that Saint Luke painted; thus the air became pure. A certain little child recognized her well. He was very sick, with him was placed a sickness called pestis. And when he saw that his body was rotten, thus he thought that perhaps he would die. Then nine times he passed a cross [croz] over him. He said "Ave maria gratia etc." Then he thus recovered well. Never again was the sickness called pestis placed with him.
Marvel 5th example [Explo]
There lived a certain noble who had entered the convent (gathering-place) of the padres called Cistercians. And then he became severely ill, then it was as though he was very troubled, because his sins were very many, that he had done when he still lived outside. Thus he lay very sadly. Then our precious mother Saint Mary appeared to him. (74v) She greatly consoled him. And when thus he lay very happy, he lay very delighted, then his abbot asked why, for what reason he was so very happy. Then he said, "Saint Mary consoles me." Then again he asked him, he said, "Perhaps you did something good?" Then he said, "When I would hear the name of Saint Mary I would always kneel. Thus I would honor her." And when he had said this, then he placed his soul in Saint Mary's hands, so she would take it forth. He said to her there in heaven what is therefore always intoned, then it is said, at Prime. "Oh our precious mother, you are very merciful, save us from the demon. And when we die, may you take us forth etc." Then well it appears how through prayer abates the torment of purgatory [porcathorio]. Like it is said in the sacred words, how the tree Lebanon is full of snow, perhaps it will perish from the fire in the fields? This means, our being helped (75r) there in purgatory, perhaps it will perish with our mother Saint Mary? Truly not. The souls who lie in purgatory, when they are very afflicted they cry out greatly to Saint Mary. A person told me, whose life is very good, vey proper, that he knew a Franciscan padre, that once it happened when he was doing contemplation, he went to look in purgatory , he went to hear. The souls were weeping very much, they were crying out to the noblewoman Saint Mary, they were intoning the Salve regina etc. Therefore he greatly praises Saint Mary, he intones, Saint Bernard, he says, "Oh noblewoman, oh Saint Mary, with you is all the salvation of the children of Adam, for you console the miserable ones, toward you, and all who already dwell in heaven with you rejoice, are glad. Those who are in purgatory cry out to you so that you will take them. And those who live on earth pray to you so that you will speak for them also, so that they will be rescued."
(75v) Example [Exenplo]
Here is another marvel that pertains to the festival of our mother Saint Mary called purification [porificançio]. It was when a pope named Boniface was living. There stood a devil-house there in Rome, called Romoro, which pertained to Diana. And Boniface beseeched the emperor whose name was foca that it be assigned to the noblewoman Saint Mary. And when he was about to bless the house, then all the vassals gathered. Many Jews also lived there, (76r) who were disputing with the Christians, they were saying that Jesus Christ was truly the child of Joseph, that she was not a maiden who gave birth to him. And the Christians and the Jews always therefore went about contending with each other until they reached the festival of the birth of our lord Jesus Christ. And when it was the festival of the birth of our lord there was much contending. And then a person was born, who was blind, and he would reprimand the Jews very much, he would shame them, he hated them very much. The Christians prayed to Saint Mary that the blind one would see, so that they [the Jews] would be able to believe. And if this could be done the Emperors in Rome will order that the Christians be destroyed(?). Then all the Christians and Jews will be advised that it will happen when it is the festival of Saint Mary called Purification [porificanon]. And when (76v) it was the festival the Christians brought the little blind one out. They went to stand him before the altar. Then he knelt before the image of Saint Mary. And there spread about all the Christians and Jews. And the little blind one thereupon intoned the song which is said on this festival. Gaude maa st. etc. which means, "Oh noblewoman, oh Saint Mary, oh rejoice! For you alone destroyed the heretics [heresesme]. And you believed the words of Saint Gabriel the archangel [alcagel] when you gave birth to God, Jesus Christ was placed within you. And when you gave birth to him, nothing happened to you, you did not lose your completely good maidenhood. Oh Mary, oh noblewoman, God sent Saint Gabriel the archangel [alghagel], he came to address you. And you believed. Then within you was placed your precious child, by the holy spirit. May (77r) all the Jews be ashamed, the wicked ones, who say that Jesus Christ is the child of Joseph." And when he had said this, then he saw. Then 6,010 Jews believed. Thus it is evident that it is very good that the maidenhood of our precious mother Saint Mary, noblewoman in heaven, always be called upon.
(98r) How we will make the mantle [imantotzin] of our precious mother Saint
Mary, with which she will cover us when we die.
It is very necessary that each of us spread before her our offerings so that it will be finished, her very good, very fine, mantle, covering, with which she will cover us when we die.
How it is made, the very good decorated covering, they who devote themselves to her, who vow themselves, who completely occupy themselves with all their sins, their drunkenness, their presumption, their pleasurable living, their self-esteem. They thus make offerings so that it will be finished, the pure mantle of Saint Mary. And they also so make offerings when it is Saturday, they fast for Saint Mary, and on vigils, and many times they also encharge themselves with it, or perhaps they hear mass every day, thus they honor Saint Mary. (98v) And they also make offerings as they encharge themselves with Saint Mary's flower crown, 73 Ave marias and seven Pater nosters. Thereby very many indulgences [yndolgencias] are merited. And some people thus make offerings as it is written about her completely pure conception which is called ynconfratria. And indeed it is finished, as it is great, as it is honorable, her mantle, our precious mother Saint Mary, with which she will cover our soul, our spirit when it takes leave of our body. May every person thus make offerings like it was said, with goodness not with money [amo tomintica]. Amen.
[Corona prayer cycle follows]
Life of Mary
(104v) The Life of Saint Mary. When she was in the house of God she reached fifteen years. The padres said, "Oh maiden, it is now fifteen years. Get married." She answered the priests, the sages, "Indeed, I have promised myself to God. I will never marry. I will keep my maidenhood." Thus the sages marveled greatly. They said, "Ever since the earth, the world was made, we have never heard anything like this, nor has anyone ever spoken like this. Perhaps she is the one of whom the prophets [bropetasme] said, 'a maiden will give birth to the child of God.' Perhaps it is this maiden." And so she stayed in the temple. There is no marvel like the way she would pray and the way she would speak. Her words appeared well, she would say "deo gracias." The way we speak today is nothing like these words. It was all quite wonderful, how she would speak. (105r) And now how wonderful within heaven. Again they said to her, and to all who were keeping their maidenhood, that they all get married. But Saint Mary answered them, she said, "Pray to God for me, what he will want for me." And the padres then all prayed to God. Then an angel came, it came to say to the sages, "God says that all the descendants of David will come." Then all the descendants of David came. A great marvel occurred, like the angel said, "he whose staff flowers, blooms, he will marry the maiden." And then one person appeared, very wondrously his staff flowered, bloomed. Then he married Saint Mary. His name is Joseph. But he did not marry her with the body. It is just a marvel. She kept her maidenhood. Indeed, he never had relations with her, perhaps with the body. But she was as his wife. (105v) Saint Mary then went to her home in Nazareth. There she was looking at the words of God. Then the angel Saint Gabriel descended, when the Ave Maria rang, it was getting dark, it was already night. He came to say "Aue maa gracia brena etc." And when Saint Mary heard this she just spoke to herself, she was addressing herself, she was very confused. She was saying, "What are these words? Indeed, the angels always come, I have never heard such words." She thought she was very little worthy of the words. Then he said to her, "Oh noblewoman, do not be anxious." And Saint Mary was recalling everything, how she would give birth, what the angel Saint Gabriel said to her. "Say how it will be done. For I do not want a man. For I shall keep my maidenhood." Again Saint Gabriel spoke to her, "Not with a man will the child of God be made. Indeed, just with the Holy Spirit he will be made." At the 6th hour he was addressing Saint Mary. (106r) She thought to herself, how the devils [diabrome] fell, how they were divided. And how the earth was made. And Saint Mary was satisfied. Then when Matins rang at midnight she said, "What he wants, may God to do me what he wants. For I am his slave." Then the holy spirit [esbrita s.to] suddenly descended. Just his soul descended. And his body was made from the blood of Saint Mary. Not like us, the way God makes us. For we men, we are placed within someone at forty (days), God gives them their souls. And women, at eighty days he gives them their souls, then. But our lord God was not made like this. And when he was born, it was also midnight. No sickness befell Saint Mary when she was about to give birth. She looked up, then the little child was born. He looked at Saint Mary. God's child was born. And Saint Mary, nothing happened to her. She is forever a maiden. Now she is there within heaven. Indeed she is always a maiden.
Exhibition Contents | Introduction | Essays | Bibliography & Links
Last update: Monday, 05-Oct-2015 00:01:18 EDT