January 4, 2021
In today’s story from Geburon, a devout old woman, trying to place a burning candle on what she believes is a statue of a sleeping soldier in a chapel in Lyons, uses the candle’s flame to heat the statue’s forehead, causing the figure, “no insensible statue” but a real soldier taking a nap, to shout in alarm! The terrified woman shrieks “A miracle!” and everyone in the church springs into action. Some ring bells, others run to see what has happened, and the priests start to calculate how much money they can make from visits to this miraculous statue. When the truth is known, many people have a good laugh, but not the disappointed priests, who are left with only their crucifix “that hangs over the rood-screen and is supposed to have spoken.”
Geburon warns his listeners not to be taken in by false miracles. “Henceforth then, Ladies,” he cautions, “take care which saints you offer your candles to!” Our storytellers debate intentions versus impact in matters of piety, as Hircan declares that “You can’t call a good action good if it turns out bad,” to which Oisille responds, “I do not look to the value of the present [. . .] but to the heart that presents it.” Oisille goes on to insist that ignorance is no obstacle to genuine devotion, observing that “The women who are the least able to talk about it are often the ones who feel more deeply the love and will of God.”
The chapel in this tale is in the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Lyons.