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For the purposes of the new edition, every poem has been assigned a unique short title. The original short titles, taken eclectically from a number of sources, are retained as alternative short titles.
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CSM Number : 253
Short name: The Pilgrim’s Iron Staff Alternative: Iron staff snaps
Incipit: De grad’ á Santa Maria/ mercee e piadade
Refrain: De grad’ á Santa Maria/ mercee e piadade/ aos que de seus pecados/ lla peden con omildade.
Summary of narrative
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Setting: Santiago de Compostela and Vilasirga Protagonist(s): a man performing penance

A man in Toulouse confessed his sins. As penance, an abbot ordered him to make a pilgrimage to Santiago, carrying an iron staff weighing twenty-four libras. The abbot instructed him to place the staff before the altar of Santiago in full view of everyone.

The man had the staff made to the proper weight.

When he was walking through Castile he saw the church of Vilasirga. He asked a friar what it was called and the man told him, explaining that the Virgin performed many miracles there.

The pilgrim entered the church. As soon as he had prayed to the Virgin to forgive his sins, the iron staff, which he had placed in front of the image of the Virgin, snapped in half.

Wanting to continue his journey, the pilgrim tried to pick up the broken pieces of the staff, but he could not remove them from the floor of the church. He realised that the Virgin wanted him to leave the staff there, and he wept and told the people his story. The clergy, who sang the Salve Regina, interpreted the miracle as a sign that the man had fulfilled his penance.

Leaving the staff behind, the man journeyed to Santiago. When he returned home, he served the Virgin for the rest of his life.

Metrical data
Stanza: 15' 15' 15' 15' Refrain: 15' 15'
No. of Stanzas: 17
Rhyme scheme: AA | bbba Zejel: Yes
MS locations:
F31, E253
Poncelet reference
abbot, altar, confession (see also repentance), pardon, penance, pilgrimage, Saint James, Salve Regina (singing of), staff (of pilgrim)
Click HERE for a list of recordings of this poem
Imagen e intención. La representación de Santiago Apóstol en los manuscritos de las Cantigas de Santa Maria
Fernández Fernández, Laura
King Alfonso’s Virgin of Villa-Sirga, Rival of St. James of Compostela
Keller, John Esten
More on the Rivalry Between Santa María and Santiago de Compostela
Keller, John Esten
Afonso X e as Cantigas de Santa Maria localizadas en Galicia
Negri, Manuel
A Selected and Annotated Discography of Recordings of Music from the Middle Ages in Spain
Tinnell, Roger D.