HERE FOLLOWETH THE CONCEPTION OF OUR BLESSED LADY.
OF THE FEAST OF THE CONCEPTION OF OUR BLESSED LADY.
William Caxton's chapter on the Immaculate Conception in his translation of the Golden Legend (1483), drawn from material in accretions to Voragine's 1275 original.1 translated by William Caxton,. This "reader's version" of the text provides section headings, paragraph breaks, and explanatory notes.
Maria invenisti graciam apud Dominum. Luca primo capitulo.2
When the angel Gabriel had greeted our Lady for to show to her the blessed conception of our Lord, for to take from her all doubts and dreads, he comforted her in saying the words aforesaid: “Mary, thou hast found grace at the Lord.”
There be four manners of people, of which the two be good, and the two be evil. For some there be that seek not God nor his grace, as people out of the belief, of whom may be said as it is written: “Who that believeth not on his Lord God shall die perpetually.” And other others (plural) there be that seek God and his grace, but they find it not, for they seek it not as they ought to do, as covetous men that set all their love in havoir possessions, wealth and in solace of the world. Such people be likened to them that seek flowers in winter: well seek they flowers in winter that seek God and his grace in the covetise covetousness of the world, which is so cold of all virtues that it quencheth all the devotion of the love of God.
And well is called the world winter in holy scripture; for its evils and vices make men sinners and cold to serve God. And therefore saith the Holy Ghost to the soul that is amorous (Canticorum cap. ii. Song of Songs, chapter 2 3), “Arise up thou my fair soul, the winter is past, jam enim hiems transiit, for thou hast vanquished the temptations of the world which kele cool my love.”
And therof as is said (Judith, cap. xv.), Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia, etc.), “Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art all the honour of our people.”
Cap. eodem In the same chapter Confortatum est cor tuum, eo quod castitatem amaveris, et post virum tuum, alterum nescieris: ideo et manus Domini confortavit te. et ideo eris benedicta in aeternum: “Thou hast kept chastity, and therefore thou shalt be blessed permanably.” perpetually
Judith viii. Ora pro nobis, quoniam mulier sancta es, etc. Item cap. xiv. Benedicta es, etc. It was said to Judith the widow this, that we may say to our Lady: “Pray for us, for ye be an holy woman, ye be a daughter that is blessed of the sovereign God above all the women that be on the earth.”
Thirdly, she is compared to the star, for she hath dwelled all her life stedfastly in all works of virtue, without doing any sin, like as the star holdeth him keeps itself on the firmament the sky, the heavens without descending to the earth. For as St. Bernard saith: If it were demanded to all the saints that ever have been: have ye been without sin? Except the glorious Virgin Mary, they might answer this that is written Johannis, cap. i. John, chapter 1 Si dixerimus quoniam non peccavimus, etc.: “If we say that we have do no sin, we deceive our selves, and the truth is not in us.”
This glorious virgin was, in the womb of her mother, sanctified more plainly and more specially than ever was any other, for as saith St. Thomas Aquinas in Compendio: There be three manners of sanctifications, the first is common, and given by the sacraments of the holy church, like as by baptism and other sacraments, and these give grace but to take away the inclination to sin deadly and venially, nay, and this was done in the Virgin Mary, for she was hallowed and confirmed in all goodness, more than ever was any creature, like as saith St. Austin: She did never sin mortal nor venial. For she was so much enlumined by the Holy Ghost which descended in her, that through the conception of her blessed son Jesu Christ, which rested in her nine months, she was so confirmed in all virtues that there abode in her no inclination of sin.
Miracles of the Immaculate Conception
A Storm at SeaAnd therefore the holy church doth her more reverence and honour in ordaining to hallow the feast of her conception, because this feast is common to the knowledge of holy church by some miracles, like as we find reading in this manner:
Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury and pastor of England, sendeth greeting and benediction in our Lord perpetual unto the bishops that be under me, and to all them that have remembrance of the blessed Virgin Mary mother of God.
The Virgin Appears to a FiancéIt is also otherwise declared: In the time of Charlemagne, king of France, there was a clerk scholar, university student which was brother germain a brother who has the same two parents to the king of Hungary, which loved heartily the blessed Virgin Mary and was wont to say every day matins of her, and the Hours. It happed that by counsel of his friends he took in marriage a much fair damsel, and when he had wedded her, and the priest had given the benediction on them after the mass, anon he remembered that that day he had not said his Hours of our Lady, wherefore he sent home the bride, his wife, and the people, to his house, and he abode in the church beside an altar for to say his Hours; and when he came to this anthem – Pulchra es et decora filia Jerusalem, that is to say, “Thou art fair and gracious, daughter of Jerusalem” – anon appeared tofore him the glorious Virgin Mary with two angels on either side, and said to him: I am fair and gracious, wherefore leavest thou me and takest thou another wife? or where hast thou seen one more fair than I am?
And the clerk answered: Madam, thy beauty surmounteth all the beauty of the world, thou art lift up above the heavens and above the angels; what wilt thou that I do?
And she answered and said: If thou wilt leave thy wife fleshly, thou shalt have me thine espouse in the realm of heaven, and if thou wilt hallow the feast of my conception, the eighth day of December, and preach it about that it may be hallowed, thou shalt be crowned in the realm of heaven.
And anon therewith our Blessed Lady vanished away.
Let us then pray to that glorious virgin our Lady Saint Mary, that we after this short and transitory life may be crowned in heaven in glory celestial, to which God bring us. Amen.
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