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CSM Number : 75
Short name: The Rich Man and the Poor Widow Alternative: Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow
Incipit: Omildade con pobreza
Refrain: Omildade con pobreza/ quer a Virgen corõada/ mais d’ orgullo con requeza/ é ela mui despagada.
Summary of narrative
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Setting: unspecified Protagonist(s): a rich man, a widow, a greedy chaplain and a good priest

In a city, there was a corrupt, vain, and arrogant man who had grown rich through usury. He had no time for religion or the soul. In this same place, there was an old widow who had nothing at all. Although she lived in a straw hut, she was very happy and was devoted to the Virgin.

Both the rich man and the widow caught a fever and lay on their deathbeds. News of the rich man’s illness reached a greedy chaplain who hurried to his bedside. He encouraged him to make a will, leaving a hundred silver marks to the church. The rich man’s wife objected and told him to leave, but he refused to go.

While the chaplain was attending the rich man, a servant girl came running. She told him that the old widow lay dying and wished to receive the sacrament. The chaplain brushed off her request, insisting that he stay with the rich man.

The servant girl returned to the widow. She was very sad and prayed to the Virgin to help her. A priest, who had heard the chaplain refuse to visit the old woman, decided to go in his place. He went to the church, fetched the host and chalice, and took it to the woman’s hut.

When he arrived there, he saw the Virgin with six maidens dressed in white. The Virgin instructed him to give the widow communion and said that she would soon be in Paradise. The priest did as he had been instructed and then returned to the rich man’s house, which was filled with devils. He went back to the widow’s hut and saw the Virgin once again. This time she took the old widow’s soul. The Virgin commended the priest for acting properly and told him that she would help him through a great trial.

When the priest went back to the rich man’s house, it was entirely surrounded by devils. Larger ones, black as Moors, were inside. They were taking the soul from the rich man’s body to a place of perpetual punishment. When the priest saw this, he was consumed by fear, but the Virgin seized him by the finger and pulled him out of there. She advised him to tell the people what he had seen. He obeyed her and lived a saintly life. When he died, the Virgin took his soul.

Metrical data
Stanza: 15' 15' 15' 15' Refrain: 7' 7' 7' 7'
No. of Stanzas: 34
Rhyme scheme: ABAB | cccb Zejel: Yes
MS locations:
T75, E75, To99
Poncelet reference
Fuit ecclesia, cuius parrochiae / presbyter praeerat, quem (556)
apparition, chaplain, confession (see also repentance), death (hour of), devils, Eucharist, extreme unction, fever, illness, poverty, priest , soul, usurer, will
Click HERE for a list of recordings of this poem
Miracle Collection
Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow BL Mariale 3
(London, BL, Additional MS 35112, ff. 21-80; 90-94)
Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow Gautier de Coinci
Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow Miraculorum B. Mariae. libri III
(Reims 1400)
Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow BL Mariale 5
(London, BL, Additional MS 15723, Collection 2, ff. 70-92)
Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow Jean Gobi
Rich Man and Poor Widow Vendôme Collection
(Vendôme, Bibliothèque Publique MS 185)
Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow Pseudo-Caesarius
Deaths of the Rich Man and the Poor Widow Paris Mariale 1
(Paris Bibliothèque Nationale 14463)
Sources of the Cantigas of Alfonso el Sabio [AC]
Dexter, Elise Forsythe
Entre Ave y Eva: las mujeres de las Cantigas de Santa María. II. Las trabajadoras. III. Las Evas
Fidalgo, Elvira
Viejos, viejas y alcahuetas. Consideraciones acerca de la vejez en las Cantigas de Santa María
Fidalgo, Elvira
La sociedad medieval española reflejada en la obra de Alfonso el Sabio
González, Jr., Juan
Estudios sobre ’goyo e risso’. Modelo de sintagma bimembre en las Literaturas Románicas
Juárez Blanquer, Aurora