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St. Crepin, St. Crispin, Sant Crespi: French, Breton, and Catalan Mystères Elisabeth Lalou St. Crispin and St. Crispinian, popular characters in theatrical productions in a number of countries, were saints venerated in most of die kingdoms of Europe; hence the iconography of their life and martyrdom was well known,1 and texts of mystères on the subject of these saints exist not only in French but also in Catalan and Breton.2 In French there are two mystères in addition to a third mystère inserted into a full-lengtii play of St. Quentin.3 It is, however, unclear how the plays about these saints in different languages are related. Both in scenario and in staging, the plays reflect their position in historical time or their geographical region perhaps as much as tiieir dependence on the actual legend of St. Crispin and Crispinian as it had appeared in the Latin life of these saints in the ninth century. In the early Latin life of the saints,4 SS. Crispin and Crispinian flee Rome to escape the persecution directed against Christians along with companions Quentin, Lucían, Valerius, Eugenius, and Rufinus. They settle in Soissons where they become cobblers and inspire numerous conversions among the pagans who come to buy shoes from diem. Emperor Maximian learns of tiieir efforts and orders his provost to bring them before him. Refusing to abandon the Christian faith, they are delivered over to the provost and his executioners for torture and death. They are bound and beaten with rods. Their backs are flayed. Awls are stuck under their nails, but these instruments of torture are expelled and instead wound die executioners . They are thrown into the river with millstones around their necks, but tiiey cast diem off and swim to the opposite shore. At this point when the executioner places them in molten lead, he is himself struck by a drop of hot lead and is blinded in one eye. He orders them to be tiirown into a mixture of 87 88St. Crépin, St. Crispin, Sant Crispí boiling pitch, resin, and oil, from which an angel snatches them unscathed. The provost in a rage throws himself into die cauldron and is burned. On the following night, the saints in their prison receive a visit from an angel who announces their imminent death to them, and the next day they are beheaded, their bodies being abandoned to serve as fodder for wild beasts. An angel orders an old man and his sister to transport the bodies of the saints to their homes and to bury them there—a difficult mission, yet die bodies weigh very little and the boat which they use advances without effort against the current. After miracles occur at their graves—a sick child, a blind man, a deaf mute, and a paralytic are cured—the saints' relics are transported with great pomp into the vaults where a church later will be raised. This translation is also described and elaborated upon elsewhere in the life of St. Ansaric.5 St. Eloi, bishop of Noyon, St. Ouen of Rouen, and Faron, bishop of Meaux decide that there is good reason to proceed with recovering the saints' relics, which will be deposited in a massive gold reliquary at which several miracles—including the return to sanity of a mad woman—will be observed. The two principal French mystères of these martyr saints are the play of "la vie et le martire de monseigneur saint Crispin et Crispinien par personnages," presented by a guild dedicated to St. Martin, St. Remi, and SS. Crispin and Crispinian at Rouen in 1443,6 and the play associated with the Parisian cobblers' guild which participated in the presentation of four "ystoires de saint Crespin et saint Crespinien" in 1458 and 1459.7 The third French example embedded in the mystère of St. Quentin was part of a dramatization at Abbeville in 1452 and at St. Quentin in 1501.8 A French mystère of St. Crispin, the text of which has been lost, was also performed in 1488 at Compiègne.9 A text in Provençal must have also existed since a "joe...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 87-93
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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