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by [?]

Il s’impute a peche la moindre bagatelle;
Jusques-la qu’il se vint, l’autre jour, s’accuser
D’avoir pris une puce en faisant sa priere,
Et de l’avoir tuee avec trop de colere!

I give a miraculous incident respecting two pious maidens. The night of the Nativity of Christ, after the first mass, they both retired into a solitary spot of their nunnery till the second mass was rung. One asked the other, “Why do you want two cushions, when I have only one?” The other replied, “I would place it between us, for the child Jesus; as the Evangelist says, where there are two or three persons assembled I am in the midst of them.”–This being done, they sat down, feeling a most lively pleasure at their fancy; and there they remained, from the Nativity of Christ to that of John the Baptist; but this great interval of time passed with these saintly maidens as two hours would appear to others. The abbess and nuns were alarmed at their absence, for no one could give any account of them. In the eve of St. John, a cowherd, passing by them, beheld a beautiful child seated on a cushion between this pair of runaway nuns. He hastened to the abbess with news of these stray sheep; she came and beheld this lovely child playfully seated between these nymphs; they, with blushing countenances, inquired if the second bell had already rung? Both parties were equally astonished to find our young devotees had been there from the Nativity of Jesus to that of St. John. The abbess inquired about the child who sat between them; they solemnly declared they saw no child between them! and persisted in their story!

Such is one of these miracles of “the Golden Legend,” which a wicked wit might comment on, and see nothing extraordinary in the whole story. The two nuns might be missing between the Nativities, and be found at last with a child seated between them.–They might not choose to account either for their absence or their child–the only touch of miracle is that, they asseverated, they saw no child–that I confess is a little (child) too much.

The lives of the saints by Alban Butler is the most sensible history of these legends; Ribadeneira’s lives of the saints exhibit more of the legendary spirit, for wanting judgment and not faith, he is more voluminous in his details. The antiquary may collect much curious philosophical information, concerning the manners of the times, from these singular narratives.


[Footnote 1: See the article on “Literary Blunders,” in this volume, for the history of similar inventions, particularly the legend of St. Ursuala and the eleven thousand virgins, and the discovery of a certain St. Viar]