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The spectacle of memory/Mary in Gonzalo de Berceo's 'Milagros de Nuestra Senora.'

Medieval artists exploited the power of the mental image, and its potential as a means of conveying multiple associations - vividly demonstrated by the classical and medieval tradition of memory systems - and they did so with an increasing eye to the mental image as a means of Christian remembering. In Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative, V. A. Kolve's magisterial study of the mental image as a means of knowing and of coming to knowledge for the medieval public, both educated and unlettered, he examines the powerful claim that visual representation makes upon the memory, and explains how medieval authors and artists drew upon both popular and learned iconographic associations in order to create individual hermeneutic systems in their own art. This is not to be equated with Biblical Exegetics; Kolve's point is that medieval artists strove to develop systems of association, not necessarily what the Exegetes would have deigned the "correct" interpretation.(1)

Gonzalo de Berceo's collection of twenty-five Marian miracles, Milagros de Nuestra Senora (mid-thirteenth century), furnishes the reader with a series of didactic lessons, conveyed through striking images. Berceo envelopes his collection in a package designed to bring together, in a narrative grand finale of Christian remembering, some of the most fertile images, associated with the Virgin Mary, in the medieval tradition.(2) An examination of the unifying and thematizing quality of these images for the narrative as a whole will lead to the resolution of a specific textual problem that critics have debated: the ordering of the miracles. I intend to show that Berceo closed his collection with the story of the repentant Theophilus, and not, as is often proposed, with the preceding miracle of the vandalized church, "La iglesia despojada," and, further, that he invented "La iglesia despojada" for specific narrative intentions that clearly link the Introduction or frame (the allegorical Garden), Miracles I, XXIV and XXV through a variety of techniques, including memory.

In his Introduction or frame, the first, penultimate and last miracles, Berceo weaves a symbolic tapestry of memory, writing, architecture and nature, personified by, and dedicated to, the spiritual and spirited heroine of the work, the Virgin Mary. The Virgin is, at once, as I shall argue in the present study, Garden, Building, Book, and Locus of devotion for her followers, and Berceo exploits the images associated with her as both Madonna and Queen of Heaven. Through the use of the same images, the faithful themselves are shown to inhabit the garden and the building, and even to be themselves elements of the garden and living churches and books. Memory - the act of remembering, of being remembered and of causing to remember - functions as a structuring principle of the narrative: Mary remembers and is herself remembered. The assorted protagonists of the twenty-five miracles - from pregnant nun to drunken monk - variously call upon the Virgin (particularly as Mother) to remember them in their time of distress, or they fall into error because they have forgotten their devotion to the Virgin; the concluding stanzas specifically exhort the Virgin to contain all the faithful in her all-embracing memory, which assures their goal of ultimate salvation. The narrator himself exhorts the Virgin to remember him. His gift to her - the written artifact of her miracles that the reader has just read-serves as a way to remember Mary. The reader, as well as the narrator, knows that Mary rewards writing, for the subject of the very first miracle of the collection is precisely the bestowal of the chasuble upon Ildefonso, who had written about Mary's virginity after the birth of Christ, as well as proposing a new date for the feast of the Annunciation in the Church's calendar.(3) As Madonna - mother - the Mary of the Introduction and Miracle I is allied with Mnemosyne - memory - who is the Mother of the Muses, and her role is to inspire memory/writing.(4) As Queen of Heaven, that is, as the Mary present at the Last Judgment, which is clearly evoked in the final miracle, "Teofilo," her role in her embodiment as Charity is to remember actively the names of those who have been faithful to her and to her Son, and who therefore merit a place in heaven.

We will first examine the medieval tradition of memory systems, in general, and then proceed to a discussion of the frame and the individual miracles noted above.5 Given that my study depends, in part, on the notion that the arts were intertwined, for medieval authors in particular shifted various kinds of artistic experience in their writings, I make comparisons with a painting by Giotto (I 267-1336) that echoes several visual and mental images, and traditions, associated with the Virgin Mary, that appear in Berceo's work of several decades earlier.

The classical and medieval Ars memoriae tradition offers the art of architecture as the "treasure-house of memory" - the custodian of memory - and philosophers and rhetoricians employed the visual image of a building, for example, with its rooms, facades and walls, as repositories for images or words, that is to say, whatever it was that they were attempting to commit to memory.(6) Memory rests, as Cicero emphasizes, on the sense of sight: For the places are very much like wax-tablets or papyrus, the images like the letters, the arrangement and disposition of the images like the script, and the delivery is like the reading" (quoted in Yates 7).(7) The loci chosen should form a series, and the images placed should be striking (imagines agentes) and easily remembered. Loci were often, but not exclusively, buildings, frequently churches, and were also places in nature, as Augustine declares in the Confessions X,8): "The next stage [in the quest to reach God] is memory, which is like a great field or a spacious palace, a storehouse for countless images of all kinds which are conveyed to it by the senses" (214). So, we see from these two quotations that memory, itself a kind of inner writing, also has connections to architecture. In the medieval tradition of aedificium scripturae, discussed by Gellrich in The Idea of the Book in the Middle Ages, the building of a building and the building of a book often were mental equivalents. We can see this point from another angle, that is, the Creation of the world: the Bible re-enacts in words the Divine Maker's actions, and every act of writing was seen as a re-creation of the Divine Act. God was also seen, however, as an Architect, so there are other, direct, correlations between the World as Book and Building, and the Writer as Architect (for example, the fifteenth-century Bible Moralisee contains an illumination in which God is depicted as an architect, inscribing the earth with a compass).

From the outset of Berceo's poem we know that writing, memory and the Virgin are indisputably linked. And, as we will see, Berceo includes in this linking process books and buildings. In Berceo's allegorical Garden that stands for Mary, the grace that she provides for her followers, and for the followers themselves, the narrator alludes to Mary's role in the Middle Ages as the custodian of memory.(8)

Las quatro fuentes claras que del prado manavan, los quatro evangelios, esso significavan, ca los evangelistas quatro los dictavan, quando los ecrivien, con ella se fablavan.

Quanto escrivien ellos, ella lo emendava, esso era bien firme lo que ella laudava; parece que el riego todo d'ella manava quando a menos d'ella nada non se guiava.

According to medieval tradition, in order to describe the events in Christ's and Mary's own life that they could not have witnessed, the gospel writers turned to Mary as the authority. Jacobus de Voragine, in The Golden Legend, describes Mary's importance as the authenticator of blessed events:

For the Blessed Virgin Mary kept and heled diligently all these things in her heart, as it is said, Luce secundo, to the end that she should afterward show them to the writers, as the gloss saith, that all things that were done and said of our Lord Jesus Christ she knew and retained them in her mind. So that when she was required of the writers or of the preachers of the incarnation and of all other things, she might express them sufficiently, like as it was done and were in deed. . . . This is she that fully from the beginning was instructed of the celestial mysteries, and it is to be believed that the evangelists enquired of her many things, and she certified them truly. (VI, 57-58)

In choosing a garden to represent the Virgin herself, Berceo at once selected an easily remembered locus upon which he could imprint striking images, and which already made powerful claims upon the medieval memory through well-known associations. And, in choosing the Virgin Mary, the author selected a figure capable of embodying and fusing a multiplicity of visual and mental images.

In The Architecture of Paradise, William McClung examines connections between Eden and Jerusalem, garden and city - what we might call the pre-lapsarian locus of nature and the locus of future salvation - the heavenly Jerusalem, a city. There often was, in fact, a conflation of the idea of garden and architecture in the Middle Ages, an idea expressed by the Limbourg illumination in Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, (early fifteenth-century), in which Eden is depicted with walls and interior architecture. Aside from the connection of gardens and churches as loci for ancient mnemotechnics, there is another connection, according to Gellrich. Basing himself on evidence of the ancient world, he argues in his chapter, "The Semiology of Space," that Romanesque churches, in a transsumptio of pagan culture, were built near water in order to be associated with "the womb of the world" in an ancient schema that linked earth, temple and mother goddess (53). Therefore, churches, books and mother-as-nature are intimately associated.

These associations are not only general, but particular. Mary, as we will see, is herself related in the medieval mind to gardens and churches, not only iconographically, but psychologically. According to Julia Kristeva's article "Stabat Mater," the psychological relationship is bound up, ultimately, with a problematics of time and space: "Indeed, mother of her son and his daughter as well, Mary is also, and besides, his wife: she therefore actualizes the threefold metamorphosis of a woman in the tightest parenthood structure," a totalizing structure that permitted, indeed is responsible for, the Marian cult and its myriad psychological and iconographic manifestations (243). Kristeva discusses a point that is fundamental to my study of Berceo, what we might call the fluidity of the figure of the Virgin. As mentioned earlier, the Virgin is mother and she is Queen of Heaven, which is a dialectical tension that pervades Milagros de Nuestra Senora. For Kristeva, this duality of the Virgin has profound significance: "The virginal maternal is a way (not among the less effective ones) of dealing with feminine paranoia. . . . The Virgin assumes the paranoid lust for power by changing a woman into a Queen in heaven and a Mother of the earthly institutions (of the Church). But she succeeds in stifling that megalomania by putting it on its knees before the child-god" (257). Consequently, what we will find in Berceo, I maintain, is a powerful exploitation and confusion, in a positive sense, of the iconography of the Virgin, the physical artifacts associated with her, and the beliefs associated with her that range from religious to human ones (in the never-ending search for the mother). These are brought together by Berceo through the dialectic of the mother/Queen and the dual nature of memory/Mary, that she remembers the faithful - her children - if she herself has been remembered.

Berceo's Garden - his description of the Virgin - moves symbolically from her role as mother indeed, the womb par excellence), the giver of life, to her role as the way of salvation, the means to the grace that brings eternal life.(9) On earth, the physical structure that brings us closest to eternal life is the church. Within the Introduction (stanzas 29-37), we see a connection of garden or nature and church, both in the roles of the faithful and in the attributes of the Virgin. The songs of the birds parallel the songs of the apostles and the people of the church; Mary is described by figures of nature, then as architectural or concrete elements, from nature to stone, nature to culture, garden to building, garden to church. Berceo moves immediately to the topic of writing and his need for the Virgin's guidance, calling her "Madre, plena de gracia, reina poderosa" (46c). This juxtaposition in the same line, of Mother and Queen of Heaven is repeated throughout the collection and is of paramount importance to the unity of the work.

Joseph Snow's analysis of the first miracle shows how Berceo differs from his presumed Latin source and provides telling evidence of a dynamic artist who infuses his version with dramatic moments. Moreover, Snow's discovery about Berceo's expansion of the Annunciation scene from its Latin source becomes fundamental to my study: While other versions of the tale of Ildefonso abound and certainly give space to the changing of the Feast date, none that we know incorporates so imaginatively the vignette of the scene of the biblical Annunciation with Gabriel and Mary" (9). Snow believes that Berceo chose to expand the Annunciation material because it made a more dramatic impact than the expansion of the description of Ildefonso's composition of De virginitate would have done. There is, however, a narrative and structural reason for having extended the Annunciation material, and it is linked to the repetition of the Mother/Queen of Heaven dichotomy, as we shall see. Moreover, Berceo takes up the question of writing throughout the work, and especially in the Theophilus miracle, which returns the reader to the Introduction and Miracle I, so there is no need for him to expand at this point a reference to Ildefonso's treatise De virginitate.

We know that Gabriel is associated with the salutatory phrase "Ave Maria," which also, as Devoto notes in his glossary, makes a nice literary play of the songs of the birds ("aves") of the Introduction/ Garden and our own songs in praise of the Virgin. It links, in addition, the Introduction to the first miracle. What has not been noted by critics, to my knowledge, is the idea that Berceo deliberately expanded the reference to the Annunciation in order to strengthen the notion of first and last, beginning and end, that is, the Annunciation and the Last Judgment, Mary as Mother and as Queen of Heaven, which underpins the work.

The Italian painter Giotto, whose art so influenced Boccaccio, composed a Last Judgment that parallels Berceo's work in remarkable ways. The Arena Chapel at Padua (1305-9), called variously Santa Maria Annunziata, Santa Maria della Carita and Santa Maria della Rena (for it stood on the former site of a Roman amphitheatre), contains a large painting in which the Virgin Mary is represented more than once. Kneeling before the crowned Virgin is a man who proffers a chapel in his hands, as if it were a book, which is, in fact, a representation of the outside of the Arena Chapel itself. The donor, Enrico Scrovegni, is memorialized as the literal presenter of the Chapel dedicated to the honor of the Virgin. As Dorothy C. Shorr explains: "When the donor of a church or chapel dedicated his gift to Christ, to the Virgin, or to the titular saint, he probably did so with the implied, sometimes expressed, hope that they would remember him favorably at the Day of judgment" (171).

Mary is not seated on a throne, nor is she on her knees in suppliance to her son the King, as she is so often depicted in Last Judgment scenes, but is an independent, indeed dominant, figure on the left side of the composition. Below, the three figures receiving the chapel (in a depiction that should remind us in general of the Book as Architecture and in particular of Berceo's offering of his book to Mary, as well as Ildefonso's contribution) are, in the center, the Queen of Heaven, the crowned Virgin, at her right the archangel Gabriel the Annunciator, and at her left, the Annunciate Virgin (Shorr 173).(10) What we have, then, in this part of the painting, is Mary twice depicted, once as the figure of "Charity," especially in her role in the Last Judgment, as the compassionate leader of the faithful upwards to heaven, and once as the Annunciate. As Shorr says: "Thus these two events, Annunciation and Last Judgment, symbolizing the beginning and the end, serve to glorify the Virgin, 'the New Eve,' as the instrument of Incarnation and Redemption" (182). We shall return to this point. (11)

Before Brian Dutton's edition of Milagros, in which he follows the order of the miracles as they appear in a manuscript discovered in 1926 by C. Carroll Marden, editors considered the story of the vandalized church, "La iglesia despojada," (the only miracle in the collection to lack a known Latin or vernacular source), to be the final miracle, preceded by the legend of Theophilus.(12) Later, E. Michael Gerli followed Dutton's lead, and placed "La iglesia despojada" as number XXIV and "De como Teofilo fizo carta con el diablo de su anima et despues fue convertido e salvo" as number XXV, the final miracle. James M. Burke refutes the policy of these two editors, and returns to the stand of the earlier critics, that "Teofilo" is the penultimate miracle, claiming that Dutton's only critical basis for privileging the order of Manuscript F over the other two known manuscripts of the Milagros, was that "Teofilo" ends with three stanzas that contain "Amen" in the fourth line of each, and that the content of stanza 911 appears to be a conclusion:

Madre del tu Golzalvo sei remembrado que de los tos miraclos fue enterpretador; tu fes por el, Sennora, prezes al Criador, ca el tu privilegio vale a peccador, tu li gana la gracia de Dios, Nuestra Sennor. (Amen).

To support his own argument that "La iglesia despojada" should be the last miracle and therefore the natural conclusion to the work, Burke's illuminating study focuses on the significance of a concrete, sacred, object: the seamless cloth that appears in Miracle I, "La casulla de San Ildefonso," the cloth that at first merely covered the statue of Mary in "La iglesia despojada" and then miraculously binds the hands of the thieves, and the "panno" that the devoted nun owns in the same story. For Burke, the cloth functions as a symbol of community, as a reference to Mary herself and her role as protector of the faithful, and therefore, as a link between these two miracles and the allegorical introduction in which Mary is the garden, our protection and way of salvation. Moreover, he cites evidence of the monastery as a kind of earthly garden-paradise, further linking the Introduction to "La iglesia despojada." He is certainly correct in these associations, but I disagree with the conclusion that Miracle XXIV must be seen as Miracle XXV. As we shall see, there are far stronger symbolic and narrative ties that support Dutton and Gerli.

Miracle XXIV, "La iglesia despojada," has been described as a work without a center, a poor testimony to Berceo's creative ability: "It rambles, shifts focus, and seems to lack a clearly-defined organizing principle" (Snow 11). But the theme of this miracle is, in fact, memory and abandonment, or not being remembered. First of all, although the narrator refers in other miracles to the necessity to remember them - or, more specifically, not to forget them, only the "La iglesia despojada" and "Teofilo" contain such an admonition in the first stanza: "Aun otro miraclo vos querria contar,/ que fizo la Gloriosa, non es de oblidar" (703a,b) and "Del pleito de Teofilo vos querria fablar,/tan precioso miraclo non es de oblidar" (748a,b).

The first stanza of "La iglesia despojada" continues: "fuent perenal es Ella de qui mana la mar,/que en sazon ninguna non cessa de manar" (703c,d). This returns us to the Introduction, in which Mary is called a fountain (35a); moreover, if we accept Gellrich's observation that Romanesque churches were built by water, that this was seen as a reproduction of "feminine" spaces, and that this was widely known, then we can see a connection in Berceo's tale. The plot of Miracle XXIV is the assault on a chapel, indeed the chapel in honor of Mary; to assault the building is to assault the Virgin herself.

The two antagonists of the story - a "clerigo" and a "lego" - look backwards to Ildefonso the bishop of Miracle I, who received the cloth from the Virgin herself, and ahead to Theophilus in the final miracle; although Theophilus is a man of the cloth, he functions, as we will see, as a kind of Everyman, a "lego," and his story becomes a guide to life. The two thieves of Miracle XXIV forcibly enter the church: they are not donors to the Virgin, either materially or spiritually, but despoilers who attempt to destroy the sacred objects within, including a statue of the Madonna, who wears a crown and veil (coincidentally, Giotto's central Virgin also wears a crown and veil). When the "clerigo" attempts to steal the cloth, it binds his hands. The result is an inversion of what usually takes place in a church: instead of memory as a corrective device - the recognition of statues, sacred objects and paintings, and the calling to mind of their moral significance - the two hoodlums become totally disoriented, as mentally and physically blind as they are spiritually blind:

Perdieron la memoria ca bien lo merecieron, el lego e el clebrigo tod el seso perdieron; fueron pora la puerta, fallar no la podieron, andavan en radio los que por mal nacieron.


De lo que avien priso non se podien quitar, ya lo querrien de grado, si podiessen, dexar, dexarlo ien de grado, no lo querrien levar, mas do era la puerta no lo sabien asmar.


This is symbolically related to stanza 14 of the Introduction, in which the author tells us the benefit of inhabiting the garden: "omne que y morasse nunqua perdrie el viso" (14d). These two miscreants have lost their sight - sight and insight - and dwell neither in the garden nor in its stone simulacrum, the church. They are, therefore, the damned, the forgotten: "Los locos malastrugos, de Dios desemparados" (723a), that is, forgotten and abandoned by God.

When they are caught by the justifiably outraged faithful, the bishop feels that he cannot judge the priest, ordering him to be exiled instead. Berceo creates here a metaphor for memory, thematically and technically: the priest will have to wait for the Last Judgment (as will we all), therefore he is abandoned by society. He is forgotten: "Nunqua mas lo veyeron desque lo enviaron,/ en todo el bispado nunqua lo testiguaron" (743a,b). Unlike the protagonists of other miracles, his is a narrative abandonment, a story without closure. Indeed, the other fellow suffers a similar narrative fate: he is forgotten much earlier on in the story. By extension, the fate of the two thieves is like the description in Ps. 68.29: "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living [liber vitae] and with the just let them not be written." This reference to the book of the living - or book of life - is associated with the visionary book of Apocalypse or Revelation (Gellrich 157-58).

This brings us, once again, to Giotto's painting and what is perceived by Shorr to be a curious feature: the depiction of the Damned. They are, she explains, diminutive and unemotional, and their fate seems inexorable and remote, not at all like the striking tortures of the Damned, so often seen in medieval paintings; even the figure of Christ dismisses them with a gesture of rejection, for his concentration is on the coming of the Elect (169-70). She attributes this to the fact that the church was being dedicated to Mary:

Since this church, dedicated to S. Maria della Carita, was built as an act of expiation for the sins of the donor's father ... it is appropriate that the emphasis ... should be placed upon the idea of Salvation rather than upon the terrors of Damnation which were usually stressed, and that so much importance should be given to the Virgin as an active participant in this work of mercy. (181)

While not refuting Shorr's opinion, could we not say that what Giotto painted was a literal representation of memory and oblivion? The painting serves to remind the viewer of the Day of Judgment. But seeing goes both ways here: the Blessed are remembered, literally seen by Christ, while the Damned are simply forgotten, that is, out of His sight, and we can recall Cicero's comment that memory is dependent upon sight.

In Berceo's work, we have a similar structure. The focus is on salvation, not damnation, which is one reason "La iglesia despojada" would make a poor choice as the final miracle. In Milagros de Nuestra Senora the Damned are forgotten - socially and narratively - as we see in Miracle XXIV.

Just as the memory of Paradise immediately brings with it the history of the Fall, so, too, the final miracle - theophilus' story - documents the spiritual fall of a kind of Everyman and his return to the living Church, the community of the faithful. In this manner - indeed, in one of several manners - this narrative bridges the Old and New Testaments, as Mary herself is described as doing:

Gozo ayas, Maria, que el ingel credist, gozo ayas, Maria, que virgo concebist; gozo ayas, Maria, que a Christo parist, la ley vieja gerristi e la nueva abrist.

The association of Theophilus with the fall is more than fanciful: the envy that overtakes Theophilus transforms him from Abel to Cain (763). Envy is the first post-lapsarian sin; envy of another's position or standing occurs in Miracle I, "La casulla de San Ildefonso" as well as in "Teofilo."

Theophilus is no longer remembered by God: "Teofilo ... de Dios desamparado" (772a); by turning to the cofradia of the devil, he desires to return to "el antiguo estado" (772d), that is, the sinful state prior to salvation by Christ, the time of the Old Testament. The devils prevail upon him to deny Christ - deny Redemption - and in agreeing to sign the "carta," he returns to the Fall of Man. (779d).

But God, as we know, wants to save souls, and so he revives Theophilus'memory and opens his eyes spiritually, which returns us to the Introduction (794-95). Thus begins Theophilus'journey from spiritual death to rebirth, a journey that must be followed by all sinners, regardless of the sin: repentance and confession, penance and a changed life. The following stanzas, containing confessions, prayers, penance, a repetition of the Creed, and the celebration of the Mass in the presence of the community of the faithful, demonstrate why this miracle can be seen as a guide to life.

Writing is an important topic in the miracle, and it takes primacy over speech: the "carta" serves as a memory of Theophilus'damnation and cannot be undone by mere verbal renunciation. Finally, after a series of references to the Virgin as Mother and Queen of Heaven, and an emphasis on her "caridad," the document is returned. Mary retrieves an important, and evil, piece of writing that contained the denial of her sanctity. The community burns the letter, and, in a final association of Old and New Testaments, the spiritually reborn Theophilus radiates light, as Berceo tells us, as if he were Moses carrying "la ley" (897a,b). Mary, as the one who "closed" the old law and "opened" the new, has saved another soul, whose shining human countenance makes him a kind of "living book" or living manifestation of the new law. Theophilus "non cogio elacion" (899b), which Gerli defines as "soberbia" (217) (which returns us yet again to the Miracle I of the text, recalling the priest who stole Ildefonso's sacred cloth), but instead Theophilus turns to the Church.

Thus begins a series of stanzas that serve as admonition to everyone - the community of the Church, the living Church - with a call to memory:

Sennores, tal miracio qual avemos oido, non debemos por nada echario en oblido, si non, seremos todos omnes de mal sentido, que non avemos seso natural nin complido.


We have moved from the Garden of the Introduction to the Church, which returns us again to the garden, both in the theme of "Teofilo" and in the reference to the Virgin as "puerta de paraiso" (36a and 819a). The poet Berceo, in Miracles XXIV and XXV, presents to Mary a Church and then a Book - the present collection of miracles - the two typical offerings of devotion, as well as depicting the devoted followers who, as both living book and living church, serve as memorial to Mary, her charity and her power. Berceo's collection of miracles reverses Theophilus' written denunciation of her, triumphantly celebrating and affirming her sanctity and power. At the same time, Berceo forges an association between himself as the compiler of these Marian miracles and Saint Ildefonso of Miracle I, the receiver of the sacred cloth, the author of De virginitate and the proponent of changing the date of the feast of the Annunciation to March.

We see that Berceo systematically associates a variety of images and beliefs that relate to the Virgin Mary, and he does so in a sophisticated manner that connects the arts as well as psychological associations of the Virgin. Miracle I presents the Annunciate Virgin, who will "remember" Christ for the Evangelists and the world; the miracle of Theophilus presents the figure of charity, the Mary of the Last Judgment, who will remember us, if we have remembered her. Berceo calls upon the Virgin to guide him in the writing of the miracles, which will be dedicated to her memory, and then presented to her just as Ildefonso presented his own book in honor of Mary's virginity. Memory, we recall, is a kind of inner writing; Mary, as the custodian of memory and as protagonist of sacred events, especially with regard to the writings of the Evangelists, is therefore herself the Writer and the Written: she is Author and Book. The Church, as we saw in Milagros de Nuestra Senora and in Giotto's Last Judgment, is presented to Mary as one would present a book. Thus, the church is both Architecture and Writing, Building and Book. The devoted followers, the ones who Remember and the Remembered, are both Living Books and Living Church. Mary is Locus: she inhabits and is inhabited, in ways that cause the reader to consider Mary's special status: she is human, although clearly different from other humans, and she is not divine, although clearly empowered to behave and bestow favor on the devoted in ways that distinguish her from other human beings, and even from the heavenly saints. As the tree in the archetypal Garden, Mary, the embodiment of charity and way of grace, prefigures the renewed Garden of Paradise, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the eternal and merged Garden and City. As Queen of Heaven, Mary reigns in Paradise. As the Garden and as the Church, the way of salvation, the refuge (she is often portrayed with her arms outstretched and the faithful kneeling beneath her spread mantle, much as a palm tree), she represents the archetypal mother, the lost territory that Kristeva describes. As the one we strive for, as the Queen of Heaven that we hope to accompany in the afterlife, she is the lost mother, the forbidden mother; as the way of salvation, as our refuge, as the one who remembers her children on earth, as the protagonist of Milagros de Nuestra Senora, she is found.


Augustine of Hippo. Confessions. Trans. R. S. Pine-coffin. 1961. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987. Berceo, Gonzalo de. Milagros de Nuestra Senora. Ed. E. Michael Gerli. Letras Hispinicas, 224. Madrid: Citedra, 1981. _____ . Milagros de Nuestra Senora. Ed. and mod. by Daniel Devoto. Odres Nuevos. Valencia: Castalia, 1967. Burke, James. "The Ideal of Perfection: The Image of the Garden-Monastery in Gonzalo de Berceo's Milagros de Nuestra Senora." In Medieval, Renaissance and Folklore Studies in Honor of John Esten Keller. Ed. Joseph R. Jones. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 1980. Carruthers, Mary J. The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature, 10. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990. Di Lorenzo, Raymond D. "The Collection Form and the Art of Memory in the Libellus Super Ludo Schachorum. " Mediaeval Studies 35 (1973): 205-21. Dutton, Brian. "A Chronology of the Works of Gonzalo de Berceo." In Medieval Hispanic Studies Presented to Rita Hamilton. Ed. A. D. Deyermond. London: Tamesis, 1976. 67-76. Farcasiu, Simina M. "The Exegesis and Iconography of Vision in Gonzalo de Berceo's Vida de Santa Oria." Speculum 61 (1986): 305-29. Gellrich, Jesse M. The Idea of the Book in the Middle Ages: Language Theory, Mythology and Fiction. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1985. Kolve, V. A. Chaucer and the imagery of Narrative: The First Five Canterbury Tales. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1984. Jacobus de Voragine. The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints. Trans. William Caxton. Ed. F. S. Ellis. 7 vols. London: Dent, 1900. Kristeva, Julia. "Giotto Joy." In Desire in Language. Trans. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine, and Leon S. Roudiez. Ed. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1980, 210-36. _____ "Stabat, Mater. "In Tales of Love. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1987. 234-63. Lopez Garcia, Angel. "Los codigos sintagmaticos de la narracion (A proposito de la originalidad del Teofilo de Berceo)." Berceo 91 (1976): 147-65. McClung, William Alexander. The Architecture of Paradise. Survivals of Eden and Jerusalem. Berkeley: University, of California Press, 1983. Patterson. Lee, Negotiating the Past: The historical Understanding of Medieval Literature. Madison: University, of Wisconsin Press, 1987. Shorr, Dorothy C. "The Role of the Virgin in Giotto's Last Judgment." In Giotto. Ed. James H. Stubblebine. 169-82. Snow, Joseph T. "Gonzalo de Berceo and the Miracle of Saint Ildefonso: Portrait of the Medieval Artist at Work." Hispania (USA) 65 (1982): 1-11. Stubblebine, James H., ed. Giotto: The Arena Chapel Frescoes: Illustrations, Introductory Essay, Backgrounds arid Sources, Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton, 1969. Uria Maqua, Isabel. "Los folios LXXXIII y LXXXIV que faltan en el Ms. 4b de la Real Academia Espanola, codice in folio de las obras de Berceo." BRAE 63 (1983): 49-66. _____. "Nuevos datos sobre el perdido folio CIX del codice F de los poemas de Berceo." Berceo 93 1977): 199-221. Walsh, J. K., ed. El coloquio de la Memoria, la Voluntad, y el Entendimiento (Biblioteca Universitaria de Salamanca MS. 1.763) y otras manifestaciones del tema en la literatura espanola. New York: Lorenzo Clemente, 1986. Yates, Frances A. The Art of Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.

(1) In fact, the differing goals of Kolve and the critics who follow the traditional Robertsonian path could not be more marked. For a discussion of tendencies in medieval studies, see Patterson, especially chapter 1, "Historicism and the Development of Chaucer Studies" (3-39). (2) Simina Farcasiu's study of the iconography in Berceo's Poema de Santa Oria offers confirmation of Berceo's sophisticated knowledge and use of visual images in his writings. (3) For a fine analysis of Miracle I and the historical background behind the miracle - saint Ildefonso's (606-667) composition of De virginitate and the change of the celebration of the Annunciation from the Easter season to a more appropriate and joyful time, eight days before the birth of Christ, see Snow. Briefly, Ildefonso, the bishop of Toledo, proposed at the Council of Toledo (656) that the feast of the Annunciation be changed from March 25 to December 18, a move that Mary clearly approved of, according to Berceo's miracle. (4) It was well known that, for the Greeks, Mnemosyne/Memory was the Mother of the Muses. Consequently, this gave rise to, among other things, a justification for the melding of the arts into one, for the perception that the arts could be shifted and experienced in a variety of media. For example, the sixteenth-century scholar Giordano Bruno confused a variety of constructions of ars memoriae and the sister arts in his search for Method: "But it was Bruno's mission to paint and mould within, to teach that the artist, the poet, and the philosopher are all one, for the Mother of the Muses is Memory. Nothing comes out but what has first been formed within, and it is therefore within that the significant work is done" (Yates 305). Yates goes on to point out that "we can see that the tremendous force of image-forming which he teaches in the arts of memory is relevant to Renaissance imaginative creative force" (305). (5) For a wide-ranging discussion of the workings and function of memory in medieval culture, see Carruthers. (6) The classic introduction to ars memoriae is Frances A. Yates' The Art of Memory. For an illuminating example of how memory systems could be treated by medieval authors, see Raymond D. Di Lorenzo, whose examination of Libellus Super Ludo Schachorum, a collection of example and sententiae, shows that it is constructed by means of a chess board as locus for a memory system. For a good introduction to the prevalence of memory systems and references to ars memoriae in Spain, as well as an edition of a fifteenth-century dramatic piece on memory, see Walsh. (7) This is from the anonymous Rhetorica Ad Herennium, often incorrectly attributed to Cicero, which serves as one of the three classical texts on memory, and the most important; the section on memory can be found in III, xvi-xxiv. (8) Kolve (49-51) illustrates several ways in which the Virgin can be seen as the custodian of memory. For example, in Speculum humanae salvationis (1324), an extremely important work of popular devotion that "links picture and text, New Testament event and Old Testament prefigurations," Mary visits the places made sacred by the Incarnation and Passion of her son, reliving that history with prayers, kisses, and tears, and remembering joy and sorrow" (49). In an accompanying illumination to one of the manuscripts of this work, Mary is seen leading a group of devoted followers to these places. A more common representation, according to Kolve, is to have Mary in the center surrounded by images of the sacred places, in the manner of a memory system: "there is no need to revisit the sacred places . . . for she possesses these images free of time and space, in her memory" (49). (9) Gerli was the first to illustrate the complex allegory that Berceo creates in his Garden, and his study, in the introduction to his edition of the Milagros, remains a fundamental one for the explication of the specific function of each element of the Garden, and Mary's role as way of grace so as to restore us to our lost innocence. (10) This identification is not universally accepted, as Shorr explains, but her defense of Supino, who first postulated this identification in 1920, and her further analysis of the painting makes such an identification not only plausible, but indisputable. (11) In an article that addresses different sections of Giotto's Last Judgment (not the question of the depictions of Mary and their significance), Kristeva analyzes Giotto's exuberant use of color and suggests, almost as an aside, that his liberating and revolutionary exploration of color is related to the mother: "That this chromatic experience could take place under the aegis of the Order of the Merry Knights commemorating the Virgin is, perhaps, more than a coincidence (sublimated jouissance finds its basis in the forbidden mother, next to the Name-of-the-father)" (224). (12) Because Thott 128, the manuscript found in Copenhagen, contains the same order as Berceo's miracles, it has long been considered, not a direct source, but the closest resemblance to what the source must have been for Berceo. Thott 128 does not contain the story of the vandalized church. The manuscript discovered by Marden, known as Manuscript F, lacks some folios, and was found in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The missing folios were discovered and published by Isabel Uria Maqua, and belong to a private library.
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Author:Grieve, Patricia E.
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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