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CSM Number : 285
Short name: The Nun who Tried to Leave the Convent Alternative: Runaway Nun
Incipit: Do dem’ a perfia
Refrain: Do dem’ a perfia/ nona toll’ outra cousa/ come Santa Maria.
Summary of narrative
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Setting: unspecified Protagonist(s): a nun

There was a nun who was beautiful and of very high birth. She was also obedient to the rules of her order and was very well spoken. Because of this, the abbess made her her companion and assistant. She consulted the nun about all of her official business.rnThe abbess had a nephew who fell in love with the nun the first moment he saw her. He was very eager to have her and told her daily how much he loved her. He promised to marry her and to give her great property and wealth. He promised to make her happy if she would run away with him.

Gradually, he convinced her and, placing her hands in his, she swore she would leave the convent. That night she prepared to go away with her lover. Then she went to the chapel and knelt before the altar. She said goodbye to the beautiful statue of the Virgin.

But when she turned to leave, she found that she could not go out the door because the statue blocked her way.She was very frightened and ran back to her room as quickly as she could. In this way, the Virgin thwarted the knight’s plan and he went away, cursing anyone who would trust a woman. The nun lay awake all night in her bed.

The nun got up early the next morning. When her lover came and chided her for not meeting him, she apologised and promised that she would meet him without fail that night. She did exactly as she had done the previous night and once again, the Virgin blocked her way. However, this time, the nun paid no attention to the statue, but went out to meet her lover.

Her lover took her to his land, married her and fulfilled all his promises. In fact, he even gave her more than he had said and made her very happy. God granted them many healthy and beautiful sons and daughters. However, when the woman lay sleeping, the Virgin appeared to her. She scolded her for leaving the convent and advised her to go back.

The woman was so disturbed by this vision that she reported it to her husband. He agreed to do whatever she asked. He left her and took orders in another abbey.

Metrical data
Stanza: 15 14' 15 14' 5' 13' 5' 13' Refrain: 5' 13'
No. of Stanzas: 13
Rhyme scheme: AA | bcbcaaaa Zejel: Yes
MS locations:
F28, E285, ToAppendix 09
Poncelet reference
apparition, dream, elope, exit (barred), holy orders , image (of Virgin Mary), marriage, nun, vision, abbess
Click HERE for a list of recordings of this poem
Alfonso X, el Sabio, y la Cantiga XCIV
Blume Sánchez, Jaime
Una cantiga célebre del Rey Sabio. Fuentes y desarrollo de la leyenda de Sor Beatriz, principalmente en la literatura española
Cotarelo y Valledor, Armando
Sources of the Cantigas of Alfonso el Sabio [AC]
Dexter, Elise Forsythe
La Légende de la Sacristine. Étude de littérature comparée.
Guiette, Robert
Itinéraire espagnol du conte médiéval (VIIIs-XVs)
Marsan, Rameline E.
Osservazioni sulle Cantigas di Alfonso X e sui Miracles di Gautier de Coincy
Marullo, Teresa
Questões de estructura estrófica nas Cantigas de Santa Maria: estructuras múltiplas, assimetrias e continuações inconsistentes
Parkinson, Stephen
La pecadora penitente en el teatro español: Sus fuentes y evolución
Sánchez Castañer y Mena, Francisco