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Miracles in Spain - 7

The Image Miraculously Spared by the Flames

Gonzalo de Berceo
This miracle, which has been verified by modern scholars (The Foreign Quarter Review, n. VII), occurred at the ancient Abbey of Mont St. Michel in the early 12th century. It is recorded in the manuscripts of the Abbey, famous for its script house in the Middle Ages. Fr. Bercero relates it here with his customary charm and colloquial style.

San Miguel de la Tumba (Mont Saint Michel in France) (1) is a great monastery. It lies surrounded, completely encircled by the sea, in a perilous place where great hardships are suffered by the monks who live there.

mont st michel

The island mountain dedicated to St. Michael

In this monastery that we have named, there were good monks, a well-proven community, and a sumptuous and very honored altar of the Glorious Virgin that held a precious image of very great value. The image was posed on Her throne, Her Son in Her arms, like a rich queen, sanctified by God.

Like a wealthy queen, she wore a valuable crown; over it was an elegant wimple instead of a veil, beautifully cut and of very fine work, and it brought honor to the town nearby. Hanging in front of it was a lovely fan, in the common tongue they call it a moscadero. (2) Its craftsman had made it of peacock's feathers; it shone like stars, like the Morning Star.

A lightning bolt came out of the sky because of the grave sins. It burned the church on all four sides, it burned all the books and sacred cloths, and the monks themselves were almost burned. It burned the cupboards and the frontals, the beams, the cross braces, the rafters, the ridge pieces, the altar cruets, chalices and processional candlesticks, God suffered that calamity as He does others.

Although the fire was so strong and so scorching, it did not reach the Lady nor did it reach the Child, nor did it reach the fan that was hanging in front. It did them not a penny's worth of damage.


A 13th century manuscript in the Abbey library records & illustrates the fire

The image did not burn nor did the flabellum (fan) burn, nor did they suffer a hair's worth of harm. Not even the smoke reached it. It did not harm it any more than I would harm Bishop Tello. (3)

Continens et contentum (container and contents) were completely ruined. Everything was turned to ash; it was all destroyed. But around the Statue for as much as an estado (seven feet) the fire had dared do no damage.

Everyone took this as an extraordinary marvel, that neither smoke nor fire reached Her, that the flabellum remained brighter than a star, the Child still beautiful and still beautiful the Maiden.

The precious miracle did not fall into oblivion. It was immediately well dictated and put into writing; as long as the world exists, it will be told, how a calamity was converted into a blessing.

The Blessed Virgin, General and Queen, just as She freed Her wimple from this fire, so does She frees Her servants from the everlasting fire. She takes them to Heaven where they shall never know evil.


An altar to Our Lady in the present day Church
atop the Mount

  1. San Miguel de la Tumba refers to Mont-Saint-Michel, an island monastery in France located between Normandy and Brittany. The name was changed to Mont-Saint-Michel in the 8th century
  2. A fan for shooing flies (Spanish moscas).
  3. Tello Tellez de Meneses was Bishop of Palencia, where Fr. Bercero had studied.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Adapted from Gonzalo de Berceo, Miracles of Our Lady,
trans. by T. Mount and A. Cash, Un of Lexington Press, 1997, pp. 70-72

Posted August 24, 2019

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