The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter viii.

How the Christians Were in Great Dismay Because of what the Calif had Said.

The Christians on hearing what the Calif had said were in great dismay, but they lifted all their hopes to God, their Creator, that He would help them in this their strait. All the wisest of the Christians took counsel together, and among them were a number of bishops and priests, but they had no resource except to turn to Him from whom all good things do come, beseeching Him to protect them from the cruel hands of the Calif.

So they were all gathered together in prayer, both men and women, for eight days and eight nights. And whilst they were thus engaged in prayer it was revealed in a vision by a Holy Angel of Heaven to a certain Bishop who was a very good Christian, that he should desire a certain Christian Cobler,1 who had but one eye, to pray to God; and that God in His goodness would grant such prayer because of the Cobler’s holy life.

Now I must tell you what manner of man this Cobler was. He was one who led a life of great uprightness and chastity, and who fasted and kept from all sin, and went daily to church to hear Mass, and gave daily a portion of his gains to God. And the way how he came to have but one eye was this. It happened one day that a certain woman came to him to have a pair of shoes made, and she showed him her foot that he might take her measure. Now she had a very beautiful foot and leg; and the Cobler in taking her measure was conscious of sinful thoughts. And he had often heard it said in the Holy Evangel, that if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, rather than sin. So, as soon as the woman had departed, he took the awl that he used in stitching, and drove it into his eye and destroyed it. And this is the way he came to lose his eye. So you can judge what a holy, just, and righteous man he was.

NOTE 1. — Here the G. T. uses a strange word: “Or te vais a tel cralantur.” It does not occur again, being replaced by chabitier (savetier). It has an Oriental look, but I can make no satisfactory suggestion as to what the word meant.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 16:24