Cantiga CSM 245 of the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X

The Hostage who was Released

Folios 67 verso & 68 recto of codex Florencia Ms Banco Rari 20

   In Portugal, between the Douro and Minho Rivers, there roamed a band of thieves, made up of knights, squires, and foot soldiers. The one who robbed the most was held in highest esteem. In São Salvador da Torre, a man lived a good life and served the Virgin. He often went to say his prayers in a chapel dedicated to her and he decorated it with flowers.
   One day, thinking that he was rich, the robbers seized this man. They put him on a ship and carried him across the river, intending to hold him for ransom. They abused him and held him in the castle of Neiva. He was beaten continuously and the castellan threatened to kill him if he would not hand over his possessions. He tortured him, stretching him out on a beam and pouring cold water over his body, which was already black with wounds. When they threatened to capture his wife and children, the man promised to give them a thousand Leonese soldas, but they rejected his offer.
   The man prayed to the Virgin to save him and she entered the castle. In plain view of all of them, she untied him and told him that she was coming to save him because he had served her in her chapel. His captors were powerless and pale with fright. The Virgin took the man out of the castle and led him to the banks of the Lima River. She instructed him to cross it and to go to the monastery and tell the friars and the prior what had happened.
   The man was afraid of the deep water, but the Virgin exhorted him to trust her and he began to wade. His feet did not even get wet and he suffered no harm. After he had crossed the river, he entered the monastery and, before the break of day, prostrated himself before a statue of the Virgin.
   When the friars came in for matins, they looked at him in wonder. They couldn’t believe that he had entered because the placed was shut soundly. He told them what had happened and vowed to serve the Virgin even more zealously.
   Even the castellan of Neiva and the band of rogues acknowledged the miracle. Each one repented and none of them ever committed evil deeds again.
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