Legenda aurea

Jacobus de Voragine (c. 1230–1298).
Legenda aurea sanctorum.
Madrid: Juan Garcia, 1688. (BRA0945)

Several chapters in the Legenda aurea (the “Golden Legend”) expanded upon biblical narratives in ways that were unacceptable to the Catholic Church. In this Madrid edition, a censor has deleted the apocryphal tale of the two midwives, found nowhere in the four Gospels, which offers additional “proof” of Mary’s virginity at the Nativity. The passage translates:

There is a fourth proof, for Brother Bartholomew, apparently borrowing from the Book of the Infancy of the Savior, writes that when the hour had come for Mary to be delivered, Joseph called two midwives – one called Zebel, the other Salome – not that he doubted that the Virgin would bring forth the Son of God, for he was following the custom of the country. When Zebel, probing and realizing that Mary was a virgin, cried out that a virgin had given birth, Salome did not believe it and tried to find out for herself; but her hand instantly withered. Then an angel appeared and told her to touch the child, and she was cured immediately.

A Spanish inscription on the verso of the title page explains that Bridwell Library’s copy was “corregido por el Sto. Officio segun el nuevo expurgatorio del año de 1707” (“corrected by the Holy Office according to the new expurgations of 1707”) by a censor named Pablo.

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