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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 : 295
Short name: The Virgin Appears to Some Nuns Alternative: Nuns praying before a statue have vision of the king
Incipit: Que por al non devess’ om’ a Santa Maria servir
Refrain: Que por al non devess’ om’ a Santa Maria servir/ deve-o fazer por quan ben sabe serviço gracir.
Summary of narrative
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Setting: unspecified Protagonist(s): some nuns and a king [almost certainly Alfonso X]

A king commissioned many beautiful images of the Virgin and had them dressed in luxurious garments. He also placed on their heads crowns studded with precious stones.

On the Virgin’s feast days, he dressed them in even finer clothes and placed them on the altar. He also wrote songs for the Virgin.

One Easter, the king had a beautiful image made; he dressed it and placed it on the altar. The king summoned the nuns to venerate it and to pray for him.

As they were praying, the Virgin appeared to them in a vision. She told them that she would do as they asked, if they would summon the king. One of the nuns fetched him, and he came at once.

When the king arrived, the image knelt on the earth in front of him and asked to kiss his hands. He threw himself on the ground and begged to kiss the Virgin’s hands. She insisted that she wanted to do him the favor because he had always honoured her and her son.

The nuns woke up from the vision and were delighted. They told the king about it the next day. He wept in front of the statue and had it all written down. From that time forth, the king served the Virgin even more zealously.

Metrical data
Stanza: 15 15 15 15 Refrain: 15 15
No. of Stanzas: 12
Rhyme scheme: AA | bbba Zejel: Yes
MS locations:
E295, E388
Poncelet reference
apparition, convent, Easter, feast day, image (of Virgin Mary), king, kissing, nun, Saint John, Saint Mark, Saint Matthew, song, vision
Click HERE for a list of recordings of this poem
Inside the virelai: a survey of musical structures in the Cantigas de Santa Maria
Campbell, Alison
The thaumaturgy of regal piety: Alfonso X and the Cantigas de Santa Maria
Lappin, Anthony
Tres ensayos sobre el arte en las Cantigas de Santa Maria de Alfonso el Sabio
Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier
When your Lover is the Virgin Mary: A New Approach to the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X of Castile
Scarborough, Connie L.