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The Moors Could Not Destroy
Our Lady’s Image

Elaine Jordan
This miracle occurred the second time that the Moorish chief Abu Yussaf crossed the frontier with his army to attack Cordoba in Spain and the upper Guadalquivir region in the year 1277.

Moors assault castle

Moors assaulting a castle

Because the Catholics were caught off guard, Abu Yussaf and his Moors, like thieves, raided towns and castles and plundered churches, carrying off bells, robbing altars, destroying crucifixes and statues and leaving nothing behind.

One day, the Moors broke into the church in a village near Martos in the Kingdom of Jaen and carried off a statue of the Virgin Mary.

When they returned to their camp they decided to destroy it. They drew their swords and one of them struck it on the arm and hacked a large piece from it. God, however, avenged the abuse of that image; he dealt the Moor such a wound that he lost his arm and the sword slipped from his hand.

When the Moors saw this, they determined to stone the image. Nevertheless, even though they threw stones at the statue from close range, they could not damage it.

Castile medieval statue Virgin Mary

A medieval statue of Our Lady from Castile

Next, they decided to burn it and they built a great fire. Although the statue lay in the fire for two days, God, who saved Hanamiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the fiery furnace in Babylon, also saved the statue from destruction.

Finally, the Moors agreed to throw the statue into the river and to be sure it would sink, they tied a heavy stone around its neck. Although the statue fell into a strong whirlpool, the Virgin did not permit it to sink.

Seeing this, the Moors realized there was some great power inherent in the statue, drew it out of the water and sold it to the King of Granada.

The King of Granada commanded certain of his men to take the statue to the King of Leon and Castile and to tell him everything that had happened.

When Alfonso X, who was then at Segovia, heard all that had happened, he dressed the statue in rich clothing and kept it in his chapel.

Then he ordered that the story of how the statue was saved from harm should be written down, so that all would know that it symbolized the Virgin’s protection of the King and his kingdom.

And the poet concluded, “And so that band of Moors was defeated and Mary’s image was avenged.”


Blason de Charlemagne
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Adapted Joseph F. O’Callaghan,
Alfonso X and the Cantigas: A Poetic Biography,
Leiden, Boston: Bill, 1998, pp. 153-155
Posted May 18, 2013

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