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Bulletin Of The Comediantes Vol. XXV Spring, 1973 No. 1 A NEW POSSIBLE SOURCE FOR CALDERÓN'S LA DEVOCIÓN DE LA CRUZ Edward J. Neugaard, University of South Florida The most comprehensive study to date of the sources of Calderón's La devoci ón de la cruz is that contained in Angel Valbuena's prologue to his edition of the play in the "Clásicos Castellanos " series.1 Possible sources mentioned by Valbuena include the Historias prodigiosas y maravillosas de diuersos sucessos acaecidos en el mundo , written by three French authors, Père Bovistau, Claude Tesserant and François Belieferest, and which was translated into Spanish and published in 1603.2 In this work there appears a chapter which deals with tales of miraculous appearances of the sign of the cross, generally on clothing or trees. Another possible antecedent cited by Valbuena is a tale in the Libro de los exenplos por a.b.c. by Clemente Sánchez de Vercial.3 In this story, appearing in a 15th century manuscript, but undoubtedly of much older precedence, a man forgives another who had killed his own brother because he begged him for forgiveness with his arms in the form of a cross. Two comedias written prior to the Devoción de la cruz are cited as possible sources. One is Lope's La fianza satisfecha, which contains the incest theme of Calderón's play, and the other is Mira de Amescua's El esclavo del demonio, which describes the life of a group of bandits much Hke that portrayed later in La devoción de la cruz. However, none of the above mentioned works cited by Valbuena as possible sources for La devoción de la cruz contains the theme of a bandit who is saved because of his devotion to the cross. Menéndez Pelayo states, in regard to this central theme, that "el pensamiento capital de la obra, no sabemos de dónde está tomado; probablemente de alguna leyenda o tradici ón piadosa, cuyos orígenes no se han encontrado."4 This combination of themes is to be found in a Htle-known work of the 15th century, not previously mentioned as a possible source for La devoción de la cruz. It is the Flor de virtudes, a Spanish translation of an anonymous 15th century treatise on virtues and vices, the Fiore de Virtù. The editto princeps of the Spanish version was published in Zaragoza by Paul Hurus, probably in 1491.5 In chapter XXXI, "De la inconstancia ," is found a story, attributed to the Life of the Holy Fathers, which deals with a repetnant bandit who, after confessing to a saintly hermit, is attacked and killed by his enemies. Before he dies, he is able to kneel before a cross, as his confessor had instructed him to do each time he saw one, and is thus granted salvation. The hermit witnesses the soul of the bandit being carried up to heaven by an angel and, despairing of the easy salvation earned by such a sinner, is easy prey for the devil, who causes him to trip and fall to his death. Because of his inconstancy his soul is carried off to hell by the devil. The relationship of this same story to Tirso's El condenado por desconfiado is also very striking and has been the object of a previous study by the present writer.* The passage as it appears in the Spanish incunabulum is as follows. It has been edited foUowing the customary norms. "De aqueste vicio se lee en la Vida de los sonetos padres que fue un ladrón que havía fecho todos los males del mundo e fuese a confessar a un hermita ño. E quando el hermitaño vino a darle penitencia el ladrón a cada cosa le dezía que no podía cumplir la penitencia e que no podía ayunar ni sabía fazer oración ni fazer otra penitencia . Entonces dixo el hermitaño: 'Faz a lo menos esto: que a qualquiere cruz que fallares te arrodilles por amor de Nuestro Señor e le fagas reverencia. E el ladrón...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 1-3
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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