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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549)

The Miracle of the Lighted Candle

From “The Heptameron”

THERE was a very dark chapel in the church of St. John of Lyons, and in front of the chapel a stone tomb, with figures of great personages as large as life, and several men-at-arms represented in sleeping postures round them. A soldier walking about the church one day—it was in the heat of summer—felt inclined to sleep. He cast his eyes on this chapel, and seeing it was dark and cool, he went and lay down among the other recumbent figures on the tomb, and fell asleep. Presently up came a very pious old woman, who, after performing her devotions with a candle in her hand, wanted to fix it to the tomb, and the sleeping man being more within her reach than the other figures, she set about sticking the candle on his forehead, imagining that it was stone. But the wax would not stick. The good woman, supposing that this was in consequence of the coldness of the image, clapped the lighted end of the candle to its forehead, but the image, which was not insensible, began to roar. The good woman was frightened almost out of her wits, and shrieked out, “A miracle, a miracle!” so loudly that all the people in church ran, some to the bells, others to the scene of the miracle. She took them to see the image which had stirred, which made many laugh. Certain priests, not contenting themselves with laughing, resolved to turn the tomb to account, and make as much money of it as of the crucifix on their pulpit, which was said to have spoken. But the public display of an old woman’s silliness frustrated their deceitful intention.