The Miracles of Our Lady
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of the Catholic Church
Context and influence
The sources used by Gonzalo de Berceo were various collections of tales about the miracles written in Latin He made use of the characteristic resources of the minstrels (see Mester de Juglaría). It is important to note that Gonzalo de Berceo belonged to the Mester de Clerecía. The book helped to promote Marian devotions among the people by making the subject easier to understand them for the people of his time, but it contains many heretical elements that give Mary powers of resurrection or the ability to save sinners from Divine Judgement. This led to the condemnation of the text by the Roman Catholic Church as heresy.
The work's introduction, which features the author himself, is allegorical. It is set in an idealized natural scene, which symbolizes the virtues and perfections of the Virgin. The introduction is followed by twenty-five miracles performed by the Virgin for her devotees. At the end of each story there is a moraleja (moral) or teaching to make the advantages of devotion to Mary apparent to the listener or reader. These miracles can be categorised into three different types:
- Miracles in which Mary rewards or punishes men, e.g. La casulla de San Idelfonso.
- Miracles in which the Virgin forgives and assures the salvation of her devotees, e.g. El sacristán impúdico, El Judezno, Milagro de Teófilo.
- Miracles in which the characters suffer a spiritual crisis which Mary helps them to solve, e.g. La abadesa encinta.
- Gonzalo de Berceo by John Esten Keller Twayne Publishers (1972) pages 44 and 63
- Saugnieux, Joël. Berceo Y Las Culturas Del Siglo XIII. Logroño: Servicio de Cultura de la Excma. Diputación Provincial, 1982.
- Miracles of Our Lady by Gonzalo de Berceo, edited by Richard Terry Mount 1998 ISBN 0-8131-2019-5
- Milagros de Nuestra Señora and Lais by Mary de France. Similarities and differences. Written by Pamela Bastante. Biblioteca Gonzalo de Berceo.