Poems MSS / layout Miracles Keywords Poncelet Bibliography Search

View poem data

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.
For new critical texts of the poems, return to the listing page and click on the poem number, or go to the archive of texts .
For epigraphs and layout information click on the appropriate manuscript location.
For information on Latin and vernacular sources of miracle stories follow the links to Miracles and collections. Follow the links to the appropriate pages of Todd McComb and Pierre Roberge's online discography, to the BITAGAP archive, and to linked entries in the Bibliography.
Home Page

Back to list
CSM Number : 265
Short name: John of Damascus who Cut off his Hand Alternative: John of Damascus
Incipit: Sempr’ a Virgen santa dá bon gualardon
Refrain: Sempr’ a Virgen santa dá  bon gualardon/ aos seus que torto prenden sen razon.
Summary of narrative
View Options: (Narrative Miniature Narrative & Miniature Miniature & Caption Narrative, Miniature & Both Captions )
Setting: unspecified, Persia, Rome Protagonist(s): John the Damascene

This miracle was performed for John the Damascene, a learned and noble man who joined a religious order so that he could stay loyal to the Virgin. He recited the canonical hours and sang the mass well. Nevertheless, he was captured by the Moors and taken to Persia.rn

A rich Moor bought him and he became his servant. John prayed to God and the Virgin to come to his aid. She caused his master to love him and to appoint him tutor to his son. He was able to enter has master’s house whenever he wished. John taught the boy to write so well that it was difficult to say which of them wrote better.rn

Hearing about this, the Emperor asked that John be given to him and John’s master complied. The Emperor was pleased with him and had him enter the Order of St Benedict in a monastery in Rome.rn

The Emperor solicited John’s council and listened to him. John advised him to treat his subjects well and to give generously to pilgrims and the poor. Meanwhile in Persia, the young man whom John had tutored became jealous. He wrote two letters in his hand, which was indistinguishable from John’s. He gave the letters to messengers and told them to place them where the Emperor could find them.rn

The messenger scattered the letters and the Emperor found them and was terribly angry.rnThe letters, signed by John and addressed to his friends in Africa, revealed that the empire was poorly manned and ill-equipped and encouraged them to attack. Examining the handwriting, the Emperor was convinced that John had committed treason. He consulted his advisors and decided to punish him. He had John’s right hand cut off in front of all the people.rnrn

John, praying in front of an altar, asked the Virgin to work a miracle. He lay in front of the altar all night, asking her to restore his hand. The Virgin appeared to him. She brought his hand with her and attached it to his stump. This happened in the month of April. At once, John sang her mass before the Emperor and a great throng of people and held a great procession.rn

Metrical data
Stanza: 11 11 11 11 Refrain: 11 11
No. of Stanzas: 27
Rhyme scheme: AA | bbba Zejel: Yes
MS locations:
F22, E265
Poncelet reference
amputation, Benedictines, canonical hours, children, false accusation, forgery, imprisonment, letter , limbs (restored), mass, Muslims/Moors, procession, Saint John of Damascus, emperor
Click HERE for a list of recordings of this poem
Sources of the Cantigas of Alfonso el Sabio [AC]
Dexter, Elise Forsythe
Viaje a Italia a través de las Cantigas Historiadas de Alfonso X el Sabio
Molina López, Laura
Cantigas de Santa Maria (trans.)
Rameh, Cléa