Panel 3 of Cantiga 25 of the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X

The Jewish Moneylender and the Christian Merchant (Pagar ben pod’ o que dever)
   A Christian man spent all of his money doing good deeds. When he had used up his funds, he asked people for a loan. When no one would grant him one, he turned to a Jew. The Jew agreed to give him a loan, but asked for some security. The Christian offered Mary and Christ as his warrantors, and the Jew accepted the terms.
   In the presence of witnesses, the Christian showed the Jew statues of the Virgin and Child. The Christian touched them and swore that he was placing them as security for his debt. He prayed to the Virgin, asking her to repay the loan if he failed to do so.The Christian’s business affairs went well and he quickly earned more money. However, he forgot about the loan until the day before he had to repay it.
   [Since he was far away] he had a chest constructed, filled it with the money he owed to the Jew, and threw it into the sea. He prayed for God to guide it to its destination. The next day, the chest floated into the port of Byzantium. The Jew’s servant went to fetch it as it floated by, but failed to grasp it.
   Chiding him, the Jew strode into the sea and seized it himself. He carried it home and found the money inside. He kept this secret from his friends and hid it under his bed.
   When the Christian merchant arrived, the Jew demanded the money and threatened to blackmail him. The Christian claimed that the Virgin would attest that he had repaid the loan. He suggested that they go to the church and the Jew agreed. Standing in front of the statue, the Christian asked it to tell the truth.
   At once the statue of the Virgin spoke and said that the Jew had indeed received the money. When the Jew heard this, he converted to Christianity.

Picture source: Juan-Claudio Sanz


List of Cantigas de Santa Maria