Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Virgin Mary teaching thieves a lesson

The church of St James the Greater (St Jacob's in latin) in Prague is home to a myth of it's own.

This church was home to a statue of the Virgin Mary and around her neck hung a necklace with a large jewel hanging from it. A thief had seen this necklace and had decided to steal it; one night he waited inside the church until late at night when it was finally empty and went to steal the necklace from the statue. As the thief reached around the statue to remove the necklace, the statue itself came to life and moved its hands from its previous position of prayer to having one hand wrapped around the thief's wrist and then once again fell lifeless. The thief immediately dropped the necklace and tried to pull his arm free but it was no use, the statue would not budge; he was stuck. He spent the entire night trying to free his arm, and during those hours prayed to God to free him, promising that he would never steal again and that he would become a good man. When the morning came and the priest of the church entered and found the thief attached to the statue, he was amazed at the sight before him. The priest tried for hours to help to free the thief, using any available materials such as candle wax and butter, before admitting defeat. Seeing no other option, the priest called for the executioner to come with his axe. The thief was relieved, believing that the priest intended to cut the statue in order to free the man's arm, however the priest declared that if this was her vengeance for a thief, imagine what she would do to someone who desecrated her statue. The priest intended to cut off the thief's arm. The executioner came to the church and cut off the theif's arm below the elbow and then sealed off the wound. The thief then ran from the church, and it was only then that the Virgin Mary statue released the arm it was holding, dropping it to the ground and once again resuming her praying position. The priest then took the severed arm and hung it up in the church as a warning to thieves in the future so that they would be discouraged from trying to steal from the church, and to show that thieves will be punished by God. Many years later the thief whose arm it was returned to the church and saw that his arm had been hung there like a relic, and met with the priest who thanked him and said that his arm being there had served its purpose and those who had stolen from the church before actually returned the goods they had stolen and asked for forgiveness.
The arm of the thief is still hanging in the church today, and still stands as a warning to those who dare steal from the church.

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