The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1978, Volume 24, Number 1
Thomas L. Scharf, Managing Editor


Two Alcaldes Friar Alonso de Castro
An Hidalgo A Door Keeper
Two Magistrates Two Servants
Diego Musicians
Diego’s Father A Voice
A Hermit Peasant Women:
Ali (A Moorish Gardener)       Lorenza
Three Hunters       Juana
The Guardian       Mencia


Scene 1

In the plaza of San Diego’s home village, San Nicolás
TWO MAGISTRATES for a meeting to arrange
the annual Passion of the Village)

ALCALDE 1. The others are here.

ALCALDE 2. The representative of the nobility is missing.

HIDALGO. No. he’s not—here I come.

ALCALDE 1. The devil is never missing (or: is always with us).

HIDALGO. Am I the devil?

ALCALDE1. You’re not an angel; but you are an hidalgo, that’s enough.

HIDALGO. Ill-bred peasants!

ALCALDE 1. They ought to stone you!

HIDALGO. Am I myself so much an hidalgo, that I’ve become ill-loved among peasants?

ALCALDE 1. Doristo, what do you think it’s like for a man to be an hidalgo—to have money and hold important office?

MAGISTRATE 1. On this sacred matter, I think we shouldn’t get off the track, but rather get down to business.

ALCALDE 1. To dub her sons with a don and bring out at the proper occasion a noble’s cap and short cape is the greatest obligations of her ladiship nobility.

MAGISTRATE 2. Oh, for God’s sake, sit down.

HIDALGO. I seat myself with reluctance.

ALCALDE 1. Why should we join you? It’s we who have purer blood.

MAGISTRATE 1. Coming to serve God, what good is it discussing that which is not in his service?

MAGISTRATE 2. (sarcastic.) These worn-out hidalgos take us for their servants.

MAGISTRATE1. (In jest.) God help us if they hold office here or in Seville. Believe me, they eat men alive!

MAGISTRATE 2. There are no captives of war as wretched as the workers in the village or in the town. Hidalgos control the town and then consume it all.

MAGISTRATE 1. Have you said enough sirs? Now you can surely sit down.

MAGISTRATE 2. As far as I’m concerned, I’m already seated.

MAGISTRATE1. Let us talk about what we have come to discuss, and stop this childishness: let there be less irreverence than what we’ve recently seen.

HIDALGO. What more is there to discuss—other than that we go to the hermitage in proper order, and place the holy image on its altar, and the priest say mass?

MAGISTRATE1. Yes; but there is the need to bestow charity.

HIDALGO. What charity?! By chance, to give it to the poor?

MAGISTRATE 2. The Council has the custom of giving to the local people bread, cheese and vintage wine (for the occasion); and it is also charity (though not to the poor) to feed those who come on foot (and are in need): and as it isn’t at your expense, don’t meddle in whether it’s given or not.

HIDALGO. Let everyone bring their own lunch like I do.

MAGISTRATE 2. It is our custom.

HIDALGO. If the examiner of [this holy brotherhood] comes and punishes you…

MAGISTRATE 1. For nobility, how commonplace is fear! [Because of Jewish blood].

MAGISTRATE 2. I never feared a house call by a doctor, for he always announces why he comes, however painful it may be for me. The charity must be given, and no one meddles in this.

HIDALGO. I must deal with such people!

MAGISTRATE 1. You, what do you have to pay? That cost is only ours.

MAGISTRATE 2. And for the dances, what is ordained?

ALCALDE 2. Do you mean you intend to cut them out too?

HIDALGO. Well, shouldn’t we spare any unnecessary expense?

MAGISTRATE1. You call the dances unnecessary?


MAGISTRATE 2. Do you dance?

HIDALGO. I never was much in favor of these festivities.

MAGISTRATE 1. You don’t like rejoicing. You only help us pay for the litters on which the Christ crucified is carried.

HIDALGO. And that, is it not right, since His story is of a like devotion?

MAGISTRATE 1.I think instead it’s your fame you are interested in.

HIDALGO. You are a swine.

MAGISTRATE 1.I would like to be, so you won’t eat me!

HIDALGO. You don’t know what you’re saying.

MAGISTRATE1.I wouldn’t speak if I didn’t know.

HIDALGO. Whoever decides to honor peasants deserves this and much more. I’m leaving…

MAGISTRATE1. What reason do you give?

HIDALGO.. .. So as to not soil my hands.

MAGISTRATE 1. You are probably thinking “I am as unclean as bacon and you most likely do not want to be socially inferior.” (Exit HIDALGO.)

MAGISTRATE 2. He leaves us.

MAGISTRATE1. And the town too.

MAGISTRATE 2. And not a little peevishly. (He really took it hard.)

MAGISTRATE 1. It is quite normal for that race to act thus with everyone.

MAGISTRATE 2. They have nice ways of commanding arrogantly. Perform the procession with dance and with charity, and let him go to the city with his social status—or wherever he pleases.

MAGISTRATE 1. Hidalgos!. . . A tiresome race, everything based on their honor.

MAGISTRATE 2 . Don’t you take any of that ill-humor.

MAGISTRATE 1. An hidalgo has over his door a moss-covered carved figure overhung with six spears and a javelin as a false decree of nobility. And, he wants to compare himself to one who has ten hams, and another ten to hang by Saint Luke’s day. Let’s leave this place.

MAGISTRATE 2. Those hidalgos are tiresome fools.

MAGISTRATE 1. Let there be banners and crosses; hidalgos are not the procession. (Exeunt.)

Scene 2

(THREE PEASANT WOMEN enter the village plaza,
talking of the festivities pending.)

JUANA. (who is very pregnant) I begged for his hat, fearing the sun’s fury.

MENCIA. One who bears so much son inside has no need of a sun-shade.

JUANA. Do you woo me, newly-wed? You give your love cheaply.

MENCIA. Because I have so much to give. Are you jealous?

LORENZA. I think I’ll deck myself in poppies and wild rue, and when I reach the river I’ll cover myself with hawthorn and berry blossoms. Let me see. . . what to wear for a shawl? Ah, I have a red one: perfect.

MENCIA. You’ll be dressed-up.

LORENZA. Such great finery I’m preparing for myself! I have a wide ribbon that I got from Pedro, who brought it from Guadalupe, and its letters are of gold.

JUANA. Good luck! And who will go with you to the hermitage?

LORENZA. Who? The cousins of Benita and the doctor’s too: what a great luncheon we’ll take.

JUANA. Then, don’t you intend to dance, if you have to be with them?

LORENZA. Well, where do you think we’re going? The tambourine and jingles come first: there’s no worthwhile fiesta without jingles and tambourine.

JUANA. In all San Nicolás, you know, no one plays the jingles better than Pascuala, or comes up with better words. She sings a ballad now of Muza the moor that would wring tears from a stone.

LORENZA. She is very pretty, and like a songbird since her marriage.

JUANA. So, marriage improves the voice?

LORENZA. Joy comes from having good luck, and people who are happy are predisposed to joy.

JUANA. Bras told me you’re upset.

LORENZA. Juana, let’s not talk about it. I intend to have a good time though I lost my chance when I rejected Anton’s love.

JUANA. Drat! love problems are cured by another love.

LORENZA. If it cures and procures, we’ll both be saved. Lend me some castanets, newly-wed, if you please, for above the braying and shouting they can be heard.

MENCIA. I’ll lend you them as soon as we get home.

LORENZA. Do you have an underskirt that doesn’t fit you?

MENCIA. It’s quite worthless, but we’ll look for it there.

LORENZA. Do you have any of the water we drew?

MENCIA. No, what’s worse the jug broke.

LORENZA. Such back luck!

JUANA. Mine came from heaven.

LORENZA As a woman you’re informed,
Never is she more adorned
As when she’s out to make you jealous.

Scene 3

(Enter A HERMIT and DIEGO, as a peasant in front of the village chapel.)

HERMIT. Is it well adorned?

DIEGO. It is clean, at least. The hermitage is old, and soon will settle into weariness.

HERMIT. Did you clean the statues of the saints?

DIEGO. Poorly, for swatting at their faces, with either pole or duster, causes me mortal pain. If I strike a saint, even if it’s to clean him, I feel the blow in my soul.

HERMIT. Is there anyone who would believe so much innocence and fear? He who cleans a saint with respect, Diego, doesn’t offend him. Your zeal is well understood.

DIEGO. I come to the saints trembling.

HERMIT. Surely, if you were a saint, you would let yourself be cleaned?

DIEGO. Yet what more would one need, padre, having attained so much grace? What weighs on me is seeing how unclean I am.

HERMIT. I give you my word, Diego, I would like to be thus.

DIEGO. I would indeed profit from these blows, sticks and tails of the dusters, not only from two, but from all these fields. If the tails of all those Samson hurled from the wheat (as the priest preaches from holy writ) dusted me every day, they’d not be done for a thousand years: so dusty is the cloth of my unjust life! But the Lord may easily free me from whatever misfortune, and leave me whiter than snow with the water of his grace.

HERMIT. What saintly simplicity, mingled with wisdom!

DIEGO. With great humility, I wanted to clean the holy Image: I arrive, and my soul observes (though I am silly) that the Child pouts when he sees the pole lifted. Another time, I imagined he understood (look, what crazy ignorance!) that I was bringing bile and vinegar for his mouth. It is as if the Virgin presumes I am Herod’s judge and is fleeing from us into Egypt, hurrying-up her pace. But, do you know whom I cleaned excellently?

HERMIT. Oh saintly innocence!

DIEGO. The ill-fate figure of the bad thief.


DIEGO. Because I gave him a thousand strokes because I saw the good he lost, when it was the good thief’s turn—that’s the place I want to occupy.

HERMIT. All right now: look, it’s time the procession arrived. Since for this occasion May fills the fields with flowers, go and cut lilies and broom, roses and wallflowers (that embroider the green stalks with scarlet enamels), and adorn the cross and altar, and strew some of the flowers on the floor.

DIEGO. I’ll even kneel to pray to heaven, as I’m accustomed. (Untranslatable play on words: hinojo = a kind of flower; echar hinojos o rodillas = to kneel.)

HERMIT. Already I hear some noise, and now I think my eyes see the banner on the hill.

DIEGO. I want to pick the flowers, while you climb up to ring the bell, since now you see the procession.

HERMIT. Diego, God be with you. (Exit)

DIEGO. And with you too, padre. (To himself) Eternal and merciful God, who has been so gracious to me, forgive me for cutting the flowers you have created, since they are for your throne; not, Lord, for me. Forgive me, lily, if you were praising heaven with the blue veil of sky come, you are for God. Oh, marvellous marigold! Forgive me, for on the seat of the King of Marvels you will be more marvellous. Oh, Rose of Alexandria! I love you greatly, and you deserve it, since you have the name we attribute to Mary. These red petals with that clear dew resemble the baby Jesus’ tender entrails. Go, all of you: you will appear at the feet of this Lady as the attributes that now by her virtues you have. Come, violet blossoms; you seem with your red marks to be the bruises they gave Christ for my sake.—But I have taken a long time. Now the procession comes; the sound of bells brings me back from this digression.

(Enter THE PROCESSION, and behind that the IMAGE on small flower-covered litters; and MUSICIANS sing from a book.)

Sweet lovely Virgin
Of Hope,
he who loves you
confides in you his salvation.

(They play flageolets, and then sing again.)

The nations of the World
All give thee praise,
And the holy angels
Sing thy glorious Ways.

(They play flageolets again until enter the rest of the procession and DIEGO, throwing roses before THE IMAGE, says on stopping:)

DIEGO. I skip, I dance with joy, clapping my hands, to you, glory of souls, who gives me life and being. I am a poor peasant—so the Lord in whose presence I am, in whom I believe and adore, may fulfill my desire: you already know I am to be a friar of St. Francis. I love and cherish you so much, (Sings, in a trance)

Oh, blessed child Mary,
Mother of a child,
Who is so great and so good
Just like his father!
The favorite child
Of Eternal God,
Remember poor Diego
From so far above.
Send a brown habit
To me from St. Francis,
Since I walk in the field
I won’t catch cold.

(As the litters enter, that he goes singing before, HIS FATHER grabs his hand and says to him:)

FATHER. A word—Stop. Hear a word aside. Don’t you hear that I want to speak to you?—I think he neither sees nor feels. Who made you like a stone? Well, if I press your hand. . .

DIEGO. (Singing, responds elevatedly.)

So as I walk in the field
I won’t catch cold.

FATHER. Don’t you hear that it’s your father. Speak! Don’t you hear it is your father, fool? Is it madness or disdain? Take heed of me, ignoramus—he’s as impassive as a wall. How fruitful could speaking to him be?

DIEGO. Send a brown habit
To me from St. Francis.

FATHER. I don’t know what I should feel about the affairs of this youth; although I rejoice in some, others I cannot suffer.—Listen; your mother is here, and I am full of a thousand complaints.

DIEGO. Who is so great and so good
Just like his father.

FATHER. Is this what they call obedience?

DIEGO. (Suddenly coming out of his trance) Oh, Father! Is it you?!

FATHER. It is.

DIEGO. Now, Father, I am at those feet: give me penance.

FATHER. I am not at confession, except for having fathered you.

DIEGO. If I have offended you, my beloved Father, here I ask your pardon.

FATHER. That you live in this hermitage at the side of a saintly man, I well know and respect—and abstain from a thousand regrets. But, son, you could well serve our Lord by helping me to live, and even more service would you render him. You don’t need to dig in this garden all year to sustain yourself and the hermitage, do you?

DIEGO. No, Father; but it is intended that I be taught and indoctrinated in the path of God. Although you raised me, He wishes me to incline this way. Take it for the best, Father: and may God reward you.

FATHER. Your mother cries.

DIEGO. It is madness that she is angry too; besides, the two of you live contentedly, for you give your son to this teacher. Already the procession is leaving for San Nicolás—go with it, so you may gain in devotion; and leave me, Father, to myself. The hermit ordered me to dig all this border of the garden; and since the place is full of mischievous boys, he wants me to wait and guard the fruit, though it’s still unripe. And so Diego is here to guard it, which is all we have, not so much to harm the lads, but merely to protect our holding.

FATHER. I see your inclination, and that I don’t succeed in convincing you.

DIEGO. May God, who apportions the good, fulfill my desire to be a friar of St. Francis (Oh my beloved Father!), so my love will not cause you any more concern—You can see by this barren mastic-tree how they shake the green almond! I pray to God that one remains to ripen. . . branches and fruit are lost.—But, now they assault the lettuce plot on another side!

FATHER. If your mother comes to speak to you with the flood of tears I predict, don’t afflict her any more.—And remain here, Diego; good-bye. (Exit.)

DIEGO. May He console you both—Youths of San Nicolás, look how green the fruit is. I swear it will make you ill. Come later, when the almond is dry and lean.

(Enter ALI, moorish gardener.)

ALI. (Speaks in dialect.) Good to be the faith of God! Oh you rogues! you sinners! Him to eat them little almonds—why you let him? Get out of the way, your reverence. Oh worker! oh dungheap! Why do we let these youths make damage, your presence? Don’t you see your honor we are the garden here?

DIEGO. They eat the fruits of my labor, Ali. They don’t touch yours.

ALI. From yours they go to mine. They got plenty!

DIEGO. Patience, Ali, and let’s be still: God has given it and God created it. They come with the procession and are tired from the heat: they cool off on those meadows.

ALI. That can’t be true. He create here your work, too, so people can eat it? To shove head in the fountain, cool off better. He who no look after the farm be quiet idiot.

DIEGO. You can look after your own.

ALI. Go on, you give pledge.

DIEGO. Me? What for?

ALI. For lettuce and radish what got ate.

DIEGO. That I cannot do.

ALI. Put up a hedge and offer to transport the people (away from here).

DIEGO. Stop, they are Christians!

ALI. Are these persons put here for only scarecrows?

DIEGO. Go dig; now there is no one.

ALI. Dig yourself; I no have break fast yet.

DIEGO. Here are two heads of garlic and no lack of bread and wine.

ALI. To drink wine, and live?! And Mohammed, what he say?!

DIEGO. That, friend, is stupidity. Mohammed was a blind man, who truly deceived you. You know that as well as I.

ALI. Speak polite, Dego; and keep your distance!

DIEGO. Of course.

ALI. You be saint—and, tell me what is to be blind.

DIEGO. Poor Ali! God grant you His light.

ALI. Look we have prophecy, Spain have to go back some day to our rule.

DIEGO. Rather than that, a holy King might come who will banish you forever and Spain will be rid of blood that does us so much harm. And if this should happen, Spain would owe more to that King than to all her others since Ferdinand I.

ALI. King Manzor be good warrior, be loved and feared, the Christian no throw him out of Granada forever.

DIEGO. Grant me that God only attempt to unsheath his sword, for he well knows how to cut out weeds from his wheat.

ALI. Go work, no talk with me Dego: go on dig.

(Enter JUANA)

JUANA. Gardener, or hermit, of this garden, and this hermitage, give me a bit of salad; I and my friends are staying this afternoon among these green olives, and we want to lunch.

DIEGO. God bless you, good woman.

JUANA. Give me half a peck, good Diego, of the best vegetables.

DIEGO. Collect it at your pleasure. Certainly there are lovely vegetables.

JUANA. Might you have in these patches any moorish ones?

DIEGO. Those that I have are Christian. That man would be able to give you moorish ones; although he baptizes them also like those in this garden, sprinkling them every day.

JUANA. These are the ones I mean.

DIEGO. And the things that God creates, you call moorish?

JUANA. It is because they are small heads, Diego. These I take; and when you go to the village to beg, come to my house.

DIEGO. The divine bounty so fills me with desiring to serve it with a franciscan habit, that I scarcely knew you. Are you Juana, Anton Gil’s daughter?

JUANA. Yes, Diego, I am the same.

DIEGO. Take the half peck there. I owe more than that to your aunt, who nursed and fondled me; and often enough I ate her syrup, her curds and grapes off her vines.

JUANA. There is nothing to account for in that. Good-bye, Diego.

DIEGO. May He protect you.

JUANA. I’m in a hurry.

DIEGO. Are you married?

JUANA. To Bartolo.

DIEGO. Sons?

JUANA. Five and four girls.

DIEGO. May God keep you, amen, all whom your children bear and send to populate heaven and serve God on earth. (Exit JUANA.)

DIEGO. What to have sold?

ALI. That be mine: show us where.

DIEGO. Yours?! How can that be?

ALI. Look, Dego: these lettuce be in my patches when small, and your mother pick them walking one day, and pass them to you garden.

DIEGO. I did not think that, on my life! Take the lettuce, Ali.

ALI. Your beseeching make me twitch.

DIEGO. Fine type!

ALI. (Sees hunters approaching.) Hunters! Yay! they get the devils—go kill rabbits.

DIEGO. Are they hounds?

ALI. I don’t like that word. [because Christians called moors “dogs”]

DIEGO. Well, what?! Do they bring ferrets with them?

ALI. Let’s say the hounds are hares, and I be of clean blood.

(Enter THREE HUNTERS who carry a pair of rabbits.)

HUNTER1. Take the cross bow.

HUNTER2.Good shot!

ALI. That band destroy all this land.

HUNTER1. It hadn’t reached the yard when I got it through the forehead.

HUNTER 2. It is a choice bow.

DIEGO. Ah, hunters, sirs!

HUNTER1. The wardens of this countryside have seen us.

DIEGO. Why do you kill these poor creatures, that God created in these meadows?

HUNTER 2. If they destroy the produce, isn’t it better that we kill them?

DIEGO. No, sirs; what a shame to see them dead of such a fate. It would be much better to catch them alive, and then, as one would scold children, give them a spanking for eating the vegetables.

HUNTER 1. Have you ever seen such innocence?!

ALI. Here we no laugh away one who kill rabbits.

HUNTER 2. Is it your farm?

ALI. It be mine.

HUNTER 2. Take this quarter-real.

ALI. We appreciate courtesy. Do you want something from garden?

HUNTER 1. The heat is excessive; let’s rest here.

ALI. Sit at the edge of little fountain: I to give oil, vinegar, bread, endive, little onion, dungplant, water cress, sweet basil, lettuce like pure Mohammed, and parsley and fall-down fruit.

HUNTER 1. Let’s sit down. How inviting this fountain’s freshness is, that seems to call us with its smiling face.

ALI. Because I be friendly people, I sing you, if you like a song on guitarra.

HUNTER1. You favor us greatly.

DIEGO. (Aside.) God’s infinite mercy! Those rabbits, weren’t they in their warrens? What were they doing when these hunters leveled their arrows at them? They came forth. Oh, God! If they were inside, and did not covet going out to run in the meadow and eat the grass, they wouldn’t be captured. If the League of Satan attacks the innocent bird or the young rabbit, then I, how do I think to live safe from the hunter—except by having my life defended by a monastery. That is a devout and divine seclusion, that chains the will and offers it to obedience, resigning it into the hands of a prelate with three vows. St. Francis, give me your hand, give me that sacred hand. St. Francis, I go seeking you: your clear light will guide me. If I were at your gates, even without wearing a habit, I would live contentedly. Good-bye, garden; good-bye, hermitage. (Exit.)

ALI. We hear this song, be very pretty, I swear.

HUNTER1. We await your singing.

ALI. We strum guitarra.

The morning of Saint John
At the breaking of day,
The moors made a great feast
For Senor John the Baptist.

We all went out on the plain,
Divided in teams:
Ben Saide wore the lion-color
Sewn with silver disks.

Leader of the young knights
Wore a gown of moorish yellow,
All of golden Mohammeds
Covered with arabic numbers.

When they all be playing
With the hurdles and shields,
The Master of Santiago
Had Spanish men all hid.

They all leap out together:
We moors cry out so loud,
The Queen she surely fainted
Upon a turkish rug.

I sing no more: the Christians win.

HUNTER1. Good moor, may you be happy. Leave your poor garden, and come to Seville, where I will give you a wage you can happily live on in my house.

ALI. Truly?

HUNTER l. I say it’s so.

ALI. It’s a deal.

HUNTER l. Go ahead.

ALI. What be your name?

HUNTER l. Don Henry.

ALI. Don-key?

HUNTER 1.I never in my life saw such humor as that moor’s.

ALI. Good-bye garden.

HUNTER 2. As surely as you like to hunt, the hound you carry away will give you more than you ask for. (Exeunt.)

Scene 4

A Franciscan monastery

(Enter THE GUARDIAN of St. Francis (Father Superior)


GUARDIAN. This is known for certain; and that the proceeding has been seen to by the Pope quite properly.

FRIAR ALONSO. I am informing the order today, that if Saint Bernardino is canonized, I will go to the sacred city.

GUARDIAN. Our Seraphic Father continues to raise great sons.

FRIAR ALONSO. The Mother of His Rule has given them her religion and Her sweet breasts.

GUARDIAN. Bernardino of Sena’s fame fills the world with devoted admiration: his miracles have so increased and qualified him, that, now the proceeding is begun, the astonished Pope wants to canonize him very soon.

FRIAR ALONSO. I will see the feast in honor of this saint, for he has given such glory to the religion.

GUARDIAN. Many great miracles have been recorded and proven concerning his sanctity.

FRIAR ALONSO. They say that devotion to many in this admirable saint was exceptional.

GUARDIAN. With this star for guide, is it any wonder that he saw the very gates of Heaven?


DOOR-KEEPER. Here is an honest man.

GUARDIAN. And, do you know for certain?

DOOR-KEEPER. Although poor, he seems so.

GUARDIAN. Enter. What can he want?

(Enter DIEGO.)

DIEGO. (To himself). Today, Francis, I wish to see what your hand holds out to me. It is my love of God that makes me want to enter here; in the rest I am unworthy.—That Lord, One and Triune, whose three persons are one single God, inflames you in His love. I, a wretched peasant, who in His clemency confide, come here to beg a sackcloth from those left-over inside.

GUARDIAN. That charity cannot be given on this threshold, my good man; you may solicit over there.

DIEGO. Good, I want this house also, and I came to see it better. It can’t be seen from the outside.

GUARDIAN. What?! you want to be a friar?

DIEGO. Sir, although I am unworthy, still there is a garden, a kitchen, building and door. By that divine love in form of a seraphin that wounded Francis in the side, take me into your employ, and only until my end—in dying, I promise to give you no further trouble. God has given me His light so I may find you and live in submission.

GUARDIAN. Friar Alonso, what do you think?

FRIAR ALONSO. I have seen something in him, but I don’t know what.

DIEGO. (Almost in a trance, sings.)

There I was in a garden,
which could use some expert care,
In company of a carved
Saint of weathered wood.
At dawn I saw
The birds salute
The Lord they praise so;
And then at mid-day,
For the fare he gave them,
Each one warbled
Words of grace.
Even better they sang
At twilight, padre,
And thanked him again
Before going to bed.
I heard them sing at night,
Too, and the waters
Rang the same tune.
The air in the green leaves
Discoursed upon his glories;
The earth its thousand mutations
Of flowers white and red,
As with letters that wrote
And deeds that proved,
Praised his holy name;
And I alone knew not how!
I imagined in coming
To this convent—at dawn
I would give salute to that Lord.
And also after eating,
At nightfall as well,
And at midnight better.
I come with this love, padre,
To secure my well-being.
I swear to you as a small boy
(What is small?) of two years
I kissed this holy cloth
And it made me so happy!
I’ve always had it in mind,
And always implored God.
I am poor, so was Francis;
And poor I see you.
To His apostleship
Christ admitted the poor
Peter and Andrew: give me
a sackcloth, beloved father,
And afterward you will see—
How rich I am!
You will think me a monarch,
King, prince and patriarch.

GUARDIAN. I am for giving him the habit.

FRIAR ALONSO. Certainly, father guardian, his good grace and faith oblige that it be given.

GUARDIAN. Since there are other lay-friars, this good man also will be able to serve this house.

DIEGO. Padres, give me the sackcloth. I promise, on my faith, to not put you to any cost, to not eat or sleep or drink, or do anything that is not by the book. Come, padres, come, Lord, give poor Diego a house and a habit.

FRIAR ALONSO. The fire of divine love burns within the man. Mark how his charity evokes great pity.

GUARDIAN. When you receive ordination, what will you do?

DIEGO. I’ll kiss the blessed sackcloth thread by thread. And after that I’ll give thanks to He who knows how to honor with such brocade the least of his creatures.

(Enter TWO SERVANTS loaded with food, and the DOOR-KEEPER).

DOOR-KEEPER. Don Juan de Guzmán sends these alms.

GUARDIAN., Well-arrived; the refectory has only water and bread today.

SERVANT. My lord knew that, and sent you this to eat.

GUARDIAN. The Guzmans know how to make a Christian gift. Since their name means “Good man,” whoever bears this name is virtuous. Come, good man, enter, so you may put on the habit.

A VOICE. (Within) More has entered than you imagine.

GUARDIAN. What is that?


GUARDIAN. They must be saying it because of the food that enters now into the convent.

FRIAR ALONSO. Doubtless, because food, no matter how you look at it, preserves life.

GUARDIAN. If it was the friar?

FRIAR ALONSO. That could be, because it came from on high.

DOOR-KEEPER. It was something like that.

GUARDIAN. That voice pierced my heart.


DIEGO. Padre Door-keeper.. .

DOOR-KEEPER. Well then, they give you the habit?

DIEGO. Yes, padre.

DOOR-KEEPER. Oh, pray to God that it suits you both in body and soul! Where are you from?

DIEGO. I am from a small town that has a famous name.

DOOR-KEEPER If one is good and virtuous, here he can also win a famous name.

DIEGO. Of what sort?

DOOR-KEEPER. By being saintly.

DIEGO. I am unlettered, very much so, even more than what is apparent. I never learned the Christus…—well, not exactly, of the ABC, only the Christus I know; I imprinted it in my soul.

DOOR-KEEPER. Well, know that all the most profound philosophy that penetrates heaven and earth is known by those most wise letters. Christus is alpha and omega, because it is God first and last without beginning or end; that finally is a circle, without start or finish. CHRISTVS, if you spell it, you will find has a C, in which is the credo; and an H for aspiration; R, for reverence, I in unworthiness; S to be a saint; and a T to attain all that human may be divine, because this T totals all: and so, they called God Theos, end of all desires; and T is the model and form of the cross He had to carry, because He shows it in His arms as though He were forced to embrace it, and could never let it go. The V shows you are coming to be vested in Christ in this house; the final S passes to a supreme being, which is the divine being. This is the Christus: spell out this lesson there inside; so that, as your love is well known, you have all you desire.

DIEGO. Oh, my porter from heaven! Not in vain did you unlock me, so that I would enter God. That doctrine, once learned, that zeal, is to give me life.

DOOR-KEEPER. The father will expect you now.

DIEGO. Francis, now that I am here, don’t leave me I pray you. (Exeunt.)


Scene 1

In the city of Cordoba.

(Enter DIEGO’S FATHER and ESTEBAN, another peasant.)

FATHER. He left the hermitage at once, Esteban, like I say, without delaying his departure a single day. He left without even taking a blessing from the hermit.

ESTEBAN. And you scarcely have word of him in a whole year?!

FATHER. I’m afraid that more than two years have passed since I last heard of him.

ESTEBAN. If God fortified his heart, you shouldn’t be surprised he told no one his intent.

FATHER. There have been days in which I am content to see that no man comes from that land who does not tell me that Diego, although he has but a lay franciscan habit, is so good and exemplary, that they regard him as a saint.

ESTEBAN. I am not surprised at this fame, since he had it before. You know how everyone who sees him admires his piety and holy simplicity.

FATHER. I have been told so many things, that I have been persuaded to come to Cordoba, where his convent is, from Seville, to see if I may speak to him.

ESTEBAN. That convent is called, I think, St. Francis of Arrizafa.

FATHER. Diego’s fame grows immensely throughout this land; so great it is, that wherever I go, they say Diego is a fine man.

ESTEBAN. What, fine man?! He is a saint.

FATHER. I learned here in Cordoba he is half a league away. Oh, God! Would that I could see him now!

ESTEBAN. I’ll go with you, since I’ve had the good luck to meet you here. And since I’m coming, I will seek his blessing.

FATHER. May God reward you it.

ESTEBAN. And then let’s return to San Nicolás together.

FATHER. I think we are here.

(WITHIN.) Brother Diego bless you!

FATHER. What is that?

ESTEBAN. People come. “Diego bless you!” they said.

FATHER. What could they mean?

(Enter TWO TRAVELERS carrying another who has been thrown from his horse.)

TRAVELER1. This brook has water: throw some on his face.

TRAVELER 2. There is no need, friends.

TRAVELER. 1. Evil beast! It doesn’t stop until it falls, when it gets worked up. I think the mule-boy already caught her.

TRAVELER 2. Although I’d have to go on foot, I wouldn’t risk the danger of killing myself, getting on such a cruel beast, nor is it right to.

FATHER. I want to find out myself—Don’t take wrongly my asking you, sirs: why, when that mule became alarmed, and you fell more on rocks than on flowers, did you call aloud, “Brother Diego bless you!”?

TRAVELER 1. Because this is a lay friar, who by so many divine practices has arrived at the peak of sainthood—such deep simplicity, humility and penitence. If we see an accident, around here, we say, “Brother Diego bless you!”

FATHER. May a thousand thanks be offered to God.

TRAVELER1. Let’s go, mount up; it’s not far from here to Cordoba.

TRAVELER 2. Not on your life! I’ve always heard it said: “Never put your faith in false mules and women.” I want to travel on foot.

TRAVELER1. You’ll fall for sure. (They leave.)

ESTEBAN. What do you think of the rank your Diego has in the religion?

FATHER. There are things that astonish me so, that the pleasure of such goodness exalts my spirit.

ESTEBAN. Now we can see the walls of the temple.

FATHER. No doubt, it’s the monastery.

ESTEBAN. Knock at the gate.

FATHER. Oh, world! your tyrany, your empire, your captivity—how good to be free here!—Deo Gratias!


DOOR-KEEPER. For ever and ever, brother.

FATHER. I hold back the flood of tears in vain, that now wants to speak for me.—How can we speak to brother Diego?

DOOR-KEEPER. To whom?!

FATHER. To Diego.

DOOR-KEEPER. I know well whom you are seeking; but you feel this admiration now, when he already dwells so far from here.

FATHER. My trembling heart told me I was never to see him.

DOOR-KEEPER. I’m sorry I’ve lost his pleasant company; Brother Diego is a good person. Brother Diego is well.

FATHER. Padre, where did he go to dwell?

DOOR-KEEPER. Brother, the sea divides us because obedience, as soon as it knew of his virtue, sent him to the Canary Islands, for the good of that land, and to make war on the devil: that people are barbaric and know not God.

FATHER. The two of us will not see each other, my son; forever!

PORTER. You are his father?!

FATHER. Yes, sir.

DOOR-KEEPER. Brother, take comfort, and be grateful to heaven for the divine favor of having such a son; a man the religion sends on a mission of such divine import. Friar Juan de Santorcaz, the padre who took him, is a great saint. And since he was chosen for courage and capability for this new conversion, first one should honor it.

FATHER. I would like to see and speak to him.

PORTER. These are effects of fatherhood. Await it in God, and believe that he will return to Spain along with him whom he accompanies, so that the Guardian may see them. You will receive consolation, and here you will be able to rest.

FATHER. How will I find you, Diego, if you always take the road to heaven?! (Exeunt.)

Scene 2

(In the Canary Islands, missionaries talking as Castilian ship approaches.)


FRIAR DIEGO. Padres, you elect a layman, an ignoramus for guardian of the convent! No, for the love God; no, my fathers.

FRIAR JUAN. Please, get up, padre Diego.

FRIAR PABLO. Padre friar Diego, steady yourself. What are you doing? Let go of our feet, padre. Jesus! Stop a minute, stop and consider: don’t you see you are our father?

FRIAR DIEGO. Fathers, when you want to give this office to an idiot, a layman, do not wonder that he kisses your feet. The master of humility, the sovereign Christ, washed the feet of the twelve he elected as disciples. And some. . .Oh, Jesus! such evil ones!. . .and here all are good, all are so great that I am ashamed to see you have elected me.

FRIAR PABLO. How your holiness ought to be proven and made known by an act of such excellent humility!

FRIAR DIEGO. Padres, padres, by God, by our Father, I beg you to remove me from this office. I, Guardian, where there are six priests trained in divine letters!

FRIAR JUAN. There is no need to contradict: it is unanimous, and you must conform.

FRIAR PABLO. Now you are our father. What is said in that?

FRIAR DIEGO. Padres, look, I am a foolish man, now I advise you of it; if afterwards I should do anything against your wish, don’t complain of me, as that’s not just.

FRIAR JUAN. Padre friar Diego, we love better what you would mistake, when you would err in something, than what a better man could succeed inhere.

FRIAR DIEGO. Once they told me a saying—a wise man, a captain, a King, a man (surely I don’t know which it was), said that it was better to have an army of deer with a lion for captain, than of lions with a deer for captain: and so I assume everyone feels. Padres, leopards, you miss the mark by having a deer captain. I will commit a thousand follies a day; I am naturally stupid. Is it good for a man without learning or experience to govern the literate?

FRIAR JUAN. Yes, padre, if he is infused with learning, and puts to work now to what is important for the conversion of these barbarians. Already in Fuerteventura so many are converted by your words, it seems that God has given you grace like an apostle.

FRIAR DIEGO. And even in that you will see I am a barbarian, since only those who are, understand me.

FRIAR PABLO. Padre, the Grand Canary, as you have seen, has no ray of the light of Christ. See to their conversion: I don’t think the forces of the men from Seville are sufficient.

FRIAR DIEGO. True it is; they are few (although well-drilled, experienced and valiant), and the barbarians are many. I want to go aboard ship and be the first to meet them.

FRIAR PABLO. You will do a very agreeable service to God; and you will be held in wonder and esteem by the Kings of Castille as well.

FRIAR DIEGO. Let us put things in order so I may embark. Oh God of my heart! Oh, if Diego were fortunate enough to die for your faith, and although such a vile person, merit the crown of a martyr! (Exeunt.)

Scene 3

In the Canary Islands

(Enter a barbarian Queen, all crowned in feathers, with a bow.)

CLARISTA. Go slowly, stag, if by chance
You know my light feet
Better than your swift ones
By the scene and the pace;
Through this open field
I can defeat your fury
With a greater fleetness,
Though I suppose you the wind’s equal;
For, only by bold speed
Could love overtake me.

Love overtook me, though I am
Queen of the Grand Canary,
Because in this realm
Love most powerful rules.
What serves the gold that coifs
A Siren of the sea?
What serves the falcon his soaring?
What serves the stag his flight,
Or the woman her counterfeit,
If love may overtake them?

Woods, I do not declare it,
And so my torment is stronger,
For in hiding away the mind
The torment is transparent;
In your waters I seek protection
Like a deer in the current,
Coming wounded to the fountain.
Heavens! happy are those
Who love by choice,
And forget by chance.

TANILDO. I think she went through here,
After a wild beast;
As if she could find one more fierce
Than in her temper she finds herself.
Slow her white foot,
You silver sea shells,
And you will be gilded
By those beautiful soles,
Worthy of treading the stars
In the sacred realms.

Hawthorns of the hill, be
An obstacle for her racing feet. . .
—But no: take her, flowers,
And grow between her toes.
You tall trees, thrust
Your limbs before her;
Don’t hide such lovely lights
And leave the floor dark;
I cannot reach your heaven,
If you hold back from me the stars.

I worship the sun, whose sight
Teaches me the sun is God,
either because of his beautiful red sky,
or because I can’t resist it.
But after looking at Clarista,
I believe she created the sun;
And I suspect her a greater goddess,
As with a greater fire she burns;
From him my house protects me,
And from her my breast cannot shield my heart. . .
Here she comes.

—Where are you going alone on these beaches?

CLARISTA. I come to see the waves of the sea, because they never stop.

TANILDO. You will imitate their restlessness, if you look so long at their waters. But, why do you retire from human society? Or, as you love no one, do you long for the gods?

CLARISTA. Tanildo, I did not go out into this solitude to be a single woman alone, but because I am sad.

TANILDO. Clarista, I am prince of two islands, whose beauty competes with the richness of your Grand Canary: take note, I am strong and powerful, and your equal in nobility. What will you lack with me, if you have me for your husband, though you solicit it from my cowardly enemy? To give you in contract I pledge two thousand feathers of colors that never have better been seen when heaven rouges itself, or the sun rises up to see the ground through his galleries. I will give you so many soft furs, that in beauty and softness compete with the whiteness you look for in the foam. Ten head-dresses of priceless jewels, where the expense of the labor is worth more than diamonds—those themselves being akin to the sun. I will give you a bed worked in box-wood, such that one can see painted on it everything one sees on the islands; and two drinking vessels that I know are worthy of your mouth, which is no small praise—but you can garnish them in pearls, just by placing them against those pearls your tongue touches. What can Lisoro give you? He is poor and your vassal. I am your equal, and I adore you: why do you want to disturb this country with war? If possible, don’t be the type of woman who falls victim to her own opinions.

(Enter THE BARBARIANS, with MUSICIANS and DANCERS, all with many feathers and bows.)

ALIRA. Through here they say she went.

DIRENA. She entertains herself gazing at the sea.

FELISTO. Tanildo is with her.

LISORO. I am jealous of Tanildo.

TANILDO. I scarcely arrive to see her, and this already impedes me!

CLARISTA. If you don’t put forth a remedy, friend Direna, a jealous man will do some outrageous deed.

DIRENA. I’ll step in between.

CLARISTA. Well, think of a trick.

DIRENA. A dance.

CLARISTA. Prepare the dance.

LISORO. You with Tanildo, my love!

CLARISTA. Jealous? You have no reason to be. He followed me: there was nothing I could do.

DIRENA. Come on, Felisto and Liseo, sing: I want to cheer Clarista up.

CLARISTA. You will not be able to.

ALIRA. Come on, let’s have a dance.


ALIRA. El Canario.

FELISTO. All right with me.

DIRENA. He’s the best and this is right up his alley.

(They sing and dance the Canario.)

Canario lira,
Lilirum  fa;
to love in silence
Overcomes all.

On the Grand Canary,
Island in the sea,
Mighty men are born
Who guard it valiantly,
Lovely women born
Who want to give their men
Tokens that are worn
When they fight and win.
Now the spanish army
Wants to make us kneel
To their old King Henry
Who is in far Castille.
We who serve our ladies,
Christian men will bring:
Now for their own captives
They are each waiting.

Canaria lira,
Lilirum fa;
To love in silence
Overcomes all.

He who loves his silence,
What will he not attain?
Cunningness and silence
Everything will gain.
Long live our Queen,
A thousand years and more!
The sun shall be her husband—
As high as him she’ll soar!
Love, so many sons of yours
Will ride across the sea,
And conquer spanish shores
Without forgetting thee;
And bring their pretty females
Back to us right here;
So the living blood
That makes Canary dear
Will join itself to Spain.
Thus we will subject
The color of their skin
To our native black.

Canaria lira,
Lilirum fa;
to love in silence
Overcomes all.


MINODANTE. Knights of Canary, descendants of giants, whose ancestors stood seven cubits high and whose images can still be seen in our caves, what are you doing in idle dances? A strong vessel filled with armed Spaniards and Spanish captains comes from Fuerteventura. Their loud voices make the sea resound and quake the mountains!

TANILDO. Quiet, Minodante, quiet; where Tanildo lives Spain has no armies. Change, brave barbarians, your instruments into war clubs, your voices into threats, and your dances into heroic feats. Fear not, lovely Clarista.

CLARISTA. You alone, Tanildo, are enough?

TANILDO. I am enough for both your love and your hope.

LISORO. So you drop me?!

CLARISTA. What do you want? The Spaniards cause it. It is infamy to speak of love in times of war and arms. (Exeunt.)

Scene 4

In the Canary Islands

who are preparing to leave.)

FRIAR DIEGO. Let us attack, sirs, and place our hope in God.

CAPTAIN. Padre, we have such hope. But it’s not good to ask his favor in rash affairs.

FRIAR DIEGO. Well, why do you shy away?

CAPTAIN. Because we are few. . .


CAPTAIN. And from the mountains the descending barbarians cover the earth and threaten land and sea. They said in Fuerteventura that so many people cover these islands—I wish I could conquer them. Have King Henry send, if he wishes, a powerful armada; but one ship—it isn’t right that two hundred souls be lost.

FRIAR DIEGO. Go with God, sirs; this cross is my sword and I shall do combat with it.

CAPTAIN. Then, you will try to stay?

FRIAR DIEGO. I want to stay and die for Christ.

CAPTAIN. I would leave you, if back there they wouldn’t find it evil of me.

FRIAR DIEGO. Evil! For what reason?

CAPTAIN. Because we have to die all or none.

FRIAR DIEGO. I considered myself, sirs, a nobody and nothing: and so, well may I die.

CAPTAIN. The natives are storming the beach, shooting arrows! — Embark! to the sea! embark!

FRIAR DIEGO. Sirs, by God I beg you. . .

CAPTAIN. Come on, padre.

A SOLDIER. Padre, let’s go cast off.


SOLDIER. Come on, now.

CAPTAIN. Cast off.

FRIAR DIEGO. My dear Christ, let my desire suffice, and strengthen my weak flesh. (Exeunt.)

Scene 5

In Seville

(Enter A STEWARD and ALI.)

STEWARD. Come on out, now, may the devil take you.

ALI. You may think you right, but I think you not tell truth, Steward.

STEWARD. The Alderman will not keep anyone who doesn’t believe in God.

ALI. We believe better than you, I swear it.

STEWARD. Never return again to this house. (Enters house.)

ALI. The blame I take for me, that I left the good house for he who pass by. I be ver’ content with Hen’ry de Guzmán: I ate two years his bread, and could have eaten a hundred years. I sorrow to leave his estate without a good reason, and come here where I change nature and custom. (shouts)—Give my clothes, thief!

(WITHIN.) Is there no lackey around?

ALI. Damn! This business isn’t working out. I keep silent while they take my clothes and guitar. Poor Ali!

(WITHIN.) What a beating I’m going to give him.

ALI. The Devil take you! What more do you want. Poor Ali!

(Enter A BAKER with his peel.)

BAKER. The bread is coming out of the oven in good order, and they will remove the rest as it finishes baking.

ALI. This seem good place to me. You be baker, sir?

BAKER. Would you like something?

ALI. I hope to find a boss.


ALI. Yes.

BAKER. What do you know how to do?

ALI. We eat and we sleep, and get salary for work.

BAKER. What a message we have here! For sleeping and eating you get a salary?

ALI. It is a joke. Well I know how to work in what be necessary.

BAKER. Did you operate a bakery?

ALI. (In jest.) God protect you! Do you take me for a fool? No one can put up with that sort of thing.

BAKER. What have you done?

ALI. Gardener of Zamudio the Alderman. I serve him three or four months: he be good gentleman, but he have bad steward. I go out to live where I I can, so not to stick knife in him.

BAKER. Will you carry firewood for an oven?

ALI. Yes, sir: to the mountain I walk, and know to cut wood; and come back where I began.

BAKER. Then enter, and if the house agrees with you and you with it, we’ll settle your salary monthly, the two of us.

ALI. Do you have mule or ass?

BAKER. Mule.

ALI. You be good captain. I will carry for you who bake bread, and no drink you wine. (Exeunt.)

Scene 6

In Diego’s home village

(Enter ESTEBAN and LORENZO with winnowing forks.)

ESTEBAN. It blows just right; a fine day for winnowing.

LORENZO. I had hoped for it; and also that it wouldn’t be too strong.

ESTEBAN. Let’s begin this bundle.

LORENZO. Take this other spot, so you come toward me threshing the straw about chin’s height.

ESTEBAN. This year has been a tremendous success, thanks to God!

(Enter MENCIA with a basket and a straw hat.)

MENCIA. Now, do you want to eat, the two of you?

LORENZO. We have already eaten.

ESTEBAN. Good Lord, woman, you come just to fetch a compliment.

MENCIA. Just to serve you, I get a broken back and hands every day, and, you pay me in flirtations!

ESTEBAN. What do we have to flirt with?

MENCIA. The things you tease the women with.—Has the master come through here?

LORENZO. Here he comes now.


FATHER. Idling and talking, of course! I thought I took care of it back there. Wherever you go, Mencia, you don’t leave many men working.

MENCIA. You want to blame me!

FATHER. As you come to be useless, you will want the young men to also be so.

MENCIA. How these old men grumble. And they don’t give these words of advice when they have blond down on their cheeks.

FATHER. Come on; today we want the threashing floor clean and the wheat stored because tonight you’ll each get a whole chicken for supper.

LORENZO. Each one a chicken? Holy smoke! You better get the pot cooking.

ESTEBAN. I’m still more interested in the “chick.”

MENCIA. Two friars are coming.


FRIAR JUAN. Are there alms, honest people, for St. Francis?

FATHER. Of course! In me he has a steward, since through him I have increased my poor little property.

FRIAR PABLO. We also beg money; an almoner comes through here sent by our convent. A thousand religious men go covering the countryside on this occasion, on the way to the canonization of the holy friar Bernardino of Sena.

FATHER. Padre, I want to give you my wheat and my money, since on his behalf you come. I have a son, who although a lay brother, is highly thought of in the faith, and your speech reminds me of him.

FRIAR JUAN. What is he called?

FATHER. Friar Diego.

FRIAR JUAN. Are you his father?


FRIAR JUAN. You have fathered a saint.

FATHER. I give eternal thanks to the one who created him. Could you possibly tell me, padres, if he has returned from the Canaries?

FRIAR PABLO. If the sea is not adverse to him, he won’t delay in coming. They send a call to him to go to Rome.

FATHER. Oh, my God! I rely upon your pity that I will be able to see and speak to him. These eyes will not be sealed until I see friar Diego; not before will the earth possess this worn-out carcass.

FRIAR PABLO. Father, it will be very soon. From the Canaries to Spain, if a good wind accompanies him, will take him eight days.

FATHER. Come, padres, with me; carry away my goods the two of you: for this God will multiply my oil, wine and wheat.

MENCIA. Padres, give me your habits to kiss.

FRIAR JUAN. God protect you.

LORENZO. Ah, padres! come, it is late, and we have to clean-up.

FRIAR JUAN. Friar Diego will come to help very soon.

FATHER. I hope so, if God gives him the wind that rushes through here to hurry him on the sea. But I know my saint would not have to suffer these passions if he came by way of my eyes, that are also a sea of weeping. (Exeunt.)

Scene 7

In Southern Spain on the road to Seville


FRIAR ALONSO. It’s been a miracle, padre, to have run so quickly across so many leagues of turbulent sea.

FRIAR DIEGO. The angered sea matters not to prayer. God said they would find still better things, those who believe in him.

FRIAR ALONSO. They say it’s three hundred leagues from the Canaries here.

FRIAR DIEGO. Little do the winds contradict the man who places his thought in God.

FRIAR ALONSO. The Canaries remain sad, now you’ve gone.

FRIAR DIEGO. It was a necessary and requisite parting.

FRIAR ALONSO. Great progress was made among those fierce Canarians; many were converted by example and word of mouth. I think you are an apostle, for heaven has given you the gift of tongues.

FRIAR DIEGO. Oh! If only I would appear good! But I am so evil that like a fierce beast I scorn the gift of heaven.

FRIAR ALONSO. This shore is deserted swamp from Sanlúcar to Seville. My padre, I can scarcely stand up from hunger. He frightens me, who can pass so lightly over these sands. I think he has eaten herbs for three days, and drunk from the river.

FRIAR DIEGO. Padre, these herbs are for animals, who are grateful to heaven for celestial gifts. But even a sinner such as I can do better than eat grass. I have heard of the King who was converted into a beast: thus ought I live, padre, unworthy though I am, in these fields, for pride and foolishness have converted my being into a wild animal, and of the ambition of my ignorant heart an idol has been set up.

FRIAR ALONSO. Padre friar Diego, believe that I am a man, and that I am dying of hunger. If you wish me to live, pray to God that he take my vital thread in his strong hand and strengthen it, or that in this desert he send us bread from his holy heaven.

FRIAR DIEGO. Well, padre, rest assured, and rely on God better than did Israel.

FRIAR ALONSO. Padre, still hunger and the ruggedness of this beach make me grow faint.

FRIAR DIEGO. I want to look among these grasses. (Exclaims) Bless me! Wait. I found the bread first. This is wine and fish.

FRIAR ALONSO. Father, do you want me to throw myself at your feet?

FRIAR DIEGO. What! They are yours, Lord, so many mercies!

FRIAR ALONSO. Padre, pardon and explain. I can’t stop kissing it, and the kisses remain stamped in the bread.

FRIAR DIEGO. Wait, padre, have some. Jesus! Deo Gratias! You eat like that?

FRIAR ALONSO. Why, in three days I haven’t had a bite to eat. Now, you call death child’s play? I have to make over-niceties like a lady? Since heaven sent it, it would be ingratitude not to eat it. I eat, divine Lord, because it comes from you. Padre, eat; and drink this wine, of such delicate aroma.

FRIAR DIEGO. You drink so?

FRIAR ALONSO. The angel’s substance moves me. If another prepared it or brought it I don’t believe it.

FRIAR DIEGO. Why don’t you consider that this may be an accident and not a miracle?

FRIAR ALONSO. Don’t say such things. Do you deny they are celestial mercies?

FRIAR DIEGO. The giving has been a mercy; but someone might have lost his lunch in this meadow.

FRIAR ALONSO. Well, if another lost it, I have found it. Come on and eat, padre.

FRIAR DIEGO. I understand the two of us have to be in Rome.

FRIAR ALONSO. Eat like this, and we go to Venice, to Transylvania, and on to fierce Libya, and to the lions of wild Albania. Don’t you want a short drink?

FRIAR DIEGO. Deo Gratias.

FRIAR ALONSO. Truly, it’s nice and cool.

FRIAR DIEGO. Place what is left over in your sleeve or your hood, and let’s walk. I have to enter Seville in time for us to give thanks in the mass to that infinite King.

FRIAR ALONSO. Oh how another swallow would strengthen him! (Exeunt.)

Scene 8

In Seville


WIFE. What have you done, moor?

ALI. What do you want I have done?

WIFE. You broke my hard heart, you bathed my breast in tears.

ALI. Madam, I light the oven like you have command.

WIFE. My son went inside, he must be all burned up.

ALI. The boy!

WIFE. He went in, oh my God!, and fell asleep in the oven.

ALI. That, how do I know it? You husband come here.

(Enter the BAKER)

WIFE. Oh, dear husband! Our child has been burned alive!

BAKER. Francisquito?! Ah, angry heaven!

WIFE. All the firewood has been lit, and the boy sleeping inside!

BAKER. Such sad news! What can we do? But let me see him, even if he is on fire. (An oven is revealed all burning and shooting flames from its mouth.) My dear son! Can you speak?

WIFE. It isn’t possible. Already the terrible fire has taken his breath.

BAKER. Now water is useless.

ALI. What the devil be useful, if the oven be like a forge from top to bottom?

WIFE. Oh, miserable woman! The flames are becoming ferocious.


FRIAR DIEGO. Sister, why do cry out so?

WIFE. Oh, padre, help me here. I don’t ask you to put out my burning child, just free me from my desperation. God take me in his hand; for the fire of his love will consume me.

FRIAR DIEGO. Stop, cruel Fire, by the sovereign Lord who delivered the children.

BAKER. The Father blesses the flames. (DIEGO makes the sign of the cross.)

FRIAR DIEGO. Go, sister, quickly, to the Virgin of Antigua to whom I am devoted, and beg this life of her; and tenderly and sincerely ask her to remember me.

WIFE. I am going, dear Father; seeing you has comforted me. (Exit)

FRIAR DIEGO. Come out here, beloved child. You are not the ashes of this fire. (Puts his arm in the fire and pulls out the child.)

BAKER. A Miracle, A Miracle!

ALI. You got him out! What cool the fire?

FRIAR ALONSO. Let me kiss your feet, friar Diego.

FRIAR DIEGO. Jesus, brother! Don’t you see that thanks rightly are owed, after God, to the beautiful Virgin Star of the Sea, and dawn of human good!

BAKER. You don’t understand, my son, how to thank him yourself, but, I will kiss the feet of this lay saint for you.

ALI. You no recognize Ali, Dego, I who was your uncle’s gardener back in your village? You no remember the hermit? You be blessed person I want to kiss you clothes. And look, I tell you I want to be Christian by what I just see.

FRIAR DIEGO. Most clement Lord, I praise you a thousand times. Ali, what are you doing here?

ALI. Christian I want to be now: we leave behind so much error. Mohammed is a scoundrel. I spit on the old frand, but have affection for you divine sackcloth.

FRIAR ALONSO. Padre, Seville has wind of the miracle and it is quite rightly a marvel. But in the most holy things lies the possibility of self pride.

FRIAR DIEGO. You speak well; but why me?

FRIAR ALONSO. Come this way, Padre.

FRIAR DIEGO. The gloria belongs to God.

ALI. Padre, now I to be your disciple. Give me the water.

FRIAR DIEGO. Come with me.

ALI. I to be friend of your law, for Mohammed to be a queer. (Exeunt)

Scene 9

In a monastery near Seville


GUARDIAN. They write me from Rome—notable celebrations are happening.

FRIAR JUAN. And what do they tell us of the Order of St. Francis, our father, of such great importance.

GUARDIAN. That there are now three thousand and eight hundred brothers.

FRIAR JUAN. Blessed Lord, so many sons of Francisco!

GUARDIAN. There are also many Cardinals and bishops, more than a hundred in the great city of Rome.

FRIAR JUAN. That a dead man is enough to bring together such a crowd!

GUARDIAN. Yes, Father, when he is so great because of his holiness and virtue, because God wishes to honor him in heaven and on earth.

FRIAR JUAN. Oh, how miserable we are, for we are not about to be made saints.


PORTER. Do you know that I—come to give you news which you will find very pleasing? Friar Diego is in the convent.

GUARDIAN. What did he say?

PORTER. Your reverences will see him in a moment.

GUARDIAN. A minute will be a thousand years.

PORTER. Well, do you know what travel news is going around?

FRIAR JUAN. As this convent is a good three leagues from Seville, nothing is known.

PORTER. A miracle of Friar Diego, although he attributes it to the Queen and Mother of Mercy, and the Virgin of Antigua, located from time immemorial in the great church.

GUARDIAN. Very well done.

PORTER. He took a child from a burning bake-oven.

FRIAR JUAN. Remarkable thing! A thousand times be praised the author of such works.

PORTER. Here he is!


FRIAR DIEGO. Give me your feet, fathers in Christ, and my fathers, though I am an undeserving son.

GUARDIAN. Heaven keep you in its service, padre friar Diego. Jesus! How well you look! You don’t show signs of a long trip.

FRIAR DIEGO. Nor signs of being good. How are you? You are well, I already see it. How ignorant! I return more so than when I left. Please forgive me.

FRIAR JUAN. He is an angel!

FRIAR ALONSO. By my faith, if your reverences had seen what the barbarians did to his flesh, you could not suffer his face to deceive you.

GUARDIAN. Did they use iron?

FRIAR ALONSO. Thick chains, and a scraper so penetrating, I don’t know how he survived.

GUARDIAN. Because whoever wanted to make him so good wanted to sustain him.

FRIAR JUAN. Tell us, padre; the giants and barbarians of the Canaries, how did you manage to induce them to leave their gods and embrace the Christian faith?

FRIAR DIEGO. Discussing the mysteries of the faith with them made an impression on those of Fuerteventura. Those of the Grand Canary would not permit anyone to enter. But if the King would conquer them, as in God I hope, then they could also take the faith. This is an intractable people, especially those called Guanchos, who come from Tenerife.

PORTERO. What do they wear?

FRIAR DIEGO. Feathers and hides of various animals.

PORTERO. What arms?

FRIAR DIEGO. Bow-and-arrows, with which the birds are not safe up to the third region of the air.

GUARDIAN. Padre friar Diego. . .

FRIAR DIEGO. What is your command, your reverence?

GUARDIAN. You know, padre, that you must leave immediately for the canonization of padre St. Bernardino. Though you may rest a little, obedience is required…

FRIAR DIEGO. How it pleases me!

GUARDIAN. . .. with padre friar Alonso de Castro. You will see in writing what is happening there.

FRIAR DIEGO. Padre, for “immediately” it is late.

GUARDIAN. Go to see St. Bernardino canonized, and be silent. There could be others who would go see him. . .but this is enough. (Exeunt.)


Scene 1

In Alcalá de Henares in central Spain

(Enter AMARO and ESTACIO, students.)

ESTACIO. The sight of him inspires great devotion in me.

AMARO. I couldn’t look at him without tears.

ESTACIO. By friar Diego’s example, each day a thousand students take the habit.

AMARO. This convent of Alcalá de Henares is called Santa Maria de Jesus: the names of such illustrious captains will of course recruit the soldiers. The archbishop of Toledo is now restoring the church and the house, and the famous sepulchre in the larger chapel.

ESTACIO. The Archbiship, Don Alonso Cerrillo, is exceedingly fond of the brown cloth St. Francis embroiders with the gold and gems of his holy rule.

AMARO. I thought I saw our friend wear that habit.

ESTACIO. He successfully rejected his worldly desires, if he can only persevere.

AMARO. He sure enjoyed the life of a heedless youth in his worldly days; but God is great.

ESTACIO. Saint Diego, who moved his heart to enlist, will keep our friend safe by his counsels, for if he is a green pasture, God is a wall.


FATHER. They will tell us here. It is a pity to be unable in the short time that remains me to see a son who ennobles all the world.

ESTEBAN. These students or professors that heaven offers us here will know of friar Diego.

FATHER. Sirs, what should we do if we wish to see friar Diego?

ESTACIO. You will see him very soon. He has to come out through here, as he always does, to give food to the poor.

FATHER. Could such a wonderful thing happen to me?!

AMARO: You come at a good time; after he arrived from Rome, where he witnessed the canonization of Saint Bernardino, and after the Provincial Vicar, the peerless Friar Rodrigo de Ocana, brought him up from Andalusia, Fray Diego went to live in the convent of Our Lady of the Willows.

ESTACIO. Now is when he appears to give food to the multitude here, who live on his alms.

FATHER. He who receives so much from God can easily give it.

ESTACIO. That is so.

AMARO. When he was living at Our Lady of the Willows, the padre was passing his time in penitence. Here he does pious works of charity which he gathers from what is left over from our table, and from his own fasting truly wonderful miracles. There he lived in a cave where he vanquished a demon whose mournful cries had often distressed those padres. Here, his charity piles up treasure in the sacks (Holds up his habit.), that have always been the coffers of heaven and the saintly life, active as well as contemplative, just as many Saints have done.

FATHER. Diego must be saint. I would like to see him, sirs. I have come all the way from Andalucia, hoping anxiously to see him.

AMARO. In him you will find the remedy for whatever need.

(Enter SIX POOR MEN and TWO WOMEN, all with wooden bowls, and FRIAR DIEGO behind with a spoon and FRIAR ALONSO with a pot and bread.)

FRIAR DIEGO. You don’t have to come stampeding.

(Enter A SOLDIER.)

SOLDIER. Give me your charity.

FRIAR DIEGO. My little holy ones, please line up; father Francis will provide enough for everyone.

FATHER. Now that I have merited so much good from your hand, dear God, you may take me whenever you like.

SOLDIER. By God, pour into this new bowl, before the broth gets cold, padre Diego; I’m chock full of gunshot wounds in my feet and arms.

(Enter A CRIPPLE.)

CRIPPLE. I curse these soldiers.

FRIAR ALONSO. Quiet, and let him give; the padre knows best what he has to do.

FRIAR DIEGO. The Lord, who has always sustained you, will do so now, too.

A BOY. Give me bread, father friar Diego.

A WOMAN. Padre!…

FRIAR DIEGO. Quiet, here I come.

SOLDIER. You give food to them all, and leave out a soldier with flesh like a sieve!

FRIAR DIEGO. Because of that, I confess, I didn’t give him any. I must be careful—if the whole body is a sieve, it is clear the broth will leak out, and not profit him at all.

SOLDIER. Hear that padre’s slyness! Pour out just a sip, since you’ve given it to all the others.

FRIAR DIEGO. Hold your bowl still, mother.

WOMAN. May God reward you, amen.

SOLDIER. And me, you think I’m a sponger? These wounds show I’m better than that!

FRIAR ALONSO. What is there they haven’t given you that matters?

SOLDIER. What matters? Why the food, you don’t think that matters?

CRIPPLE. Don’t be so arrogant.

SOLDIER. Well, you devil of a cripple, your bowl is paved in bread, and I perish. Padres, if you don’t give it to me, I’ll throw myself head-first into this well of broth. Let me, for God’s sake, at least dip my piece of crust in it as a Christmas gift. Look, I’ve been in Algeria, in La Mancha, Rome, Troy, in Galicia and Savoy, in Sanlucár and in Daimiel. The enemies of the faith have given me a thousand wounds.

FRIAR DIEGO. Calm down; I will give it to you.

SOLDIER. My guts’ve fallen to my knees in hunger.

CRIPPLE. Keep wearing yourself out like that and they won’t have to give you any.

SOLDIER. I could eat, then be quiet, Mr. Wire-face.

CRIPPLE. Sir False Soldier, you’ll see how, if you give me nicknames, I’ll disrupt this wedding!

SOLDIER. Take that! (Hits THE CRIPPLE’S bowl with a stick.)

FRIAR DIEGO. Deo Gratias. What has happened?

CRIPPLE. He’s broken my bowl.

SOLDIER. Look at the face he puts on! Pardon, your reverence. I am an honest soldier; and this is no great wonder. He challenged and the dueling manual prescribes breaking his bowl.

(Enter ALI, dressed moorish, and poor.)

ALI. Where we have come to! God to be always praised…—But to think we have come when you already give out the pot, you reverence. To pour here, good friar Dego.


ALI. Not to be Ali: we be so different.

FRIAR DIEGO. Heaven bless you! How do you come here like this?

ALI. I go lost, because I did not know Good Lord who you have. I baptized in Seville, like you know, and after I do bad, God punish me, and we break a rib.

FRIAR DIEGO. He who doesn’t serve God, Ali, can never expect success.

SOLDIER. He’s serving him some of the thick soup! To think Moors can come here and carry off our food!

FRIAR DIEGO. (Speaks to all THE POOR.) Come, go with God.

SOLDIER. And me, padre?

FRIAR DIEGO. Didn’t I give to you?



SOLDIER. A pretty tale! I’ll bear off the pot.

FRIAR ALONSO. Deo Gratias.

CRIPPLE. He carries it all away.

WOMAN. Let’s go after him.

FRIAR ALONSO. A great test of patience!

CRIPPLE. Now he’s gone. (Exeunt THE POOR.)

ALI. The tumbling of the pot be pretty thing. I go after him.

FRIAR DIEGO. Go inside with him, padre.

FRIAR ALONSO. I think they’ll break it. (Follows ALI.)

(DIEGO’S FATHER comes over.)

FATHER. My father, no longer son, rather father and beloved padre! Do you know me?

FRIAR DIEGO. You already make my soul rejoice so; it tells me who you are.

FATHER. Give me those feet, please.

FRIAR DIEGO. Jesus, my father and lord! I must be at your feet!

FATHER. Since my eyes behold you, Diego, now they may close. A thousand thanks I must render God, since I go to see him. I come now only to ask that you give me your blessing, my Diego, to die at your feet. I would not leave this life content without your blessing.

FRIAR DIEGO. My father! I regret I see you, as you put it, at your departure from this life. Do me a favor, father let no one know you are here; when you leave, I promise to go and see you.

FATHER. But, Diego, how will you know when God wants to fetch me away?

FRIAR DIEGO. God will see to it that I find myself with you in San Nicolás. And give me your blessing, I cannot stay.

FATHER. You promise to come, my son?

FRIAR DIEGO. If God will, may I be a consolation to you when the time comes.

FATHER. God bless you, my son.

FRIAR DIEGO. May he protect you, and lift us both to heaven.

FATHER. What a short conversation! Eyes, mourn the departure of the sun who illumines my life.

FRIAR DIEGO. God give you his blessing. (Exeunt.)

Scene 2

In Alcalá de Henares

(Enter the students AMARO and ESTACIO.)

AMARO. Our friend’s rage had its outcome in what I am speaking of.

ESTACIO. As God is my witness, it grieves me.

AMARO. In this letter he wrote me, he says he can’t bear such a life ahead.

ESTACIO. He would be so ignorant! That is no way to solve this, especially the same to friends and relatives!

AMARO. Of all these inconveniences, not one does he overcome. He will not be a friar: he told me to wait for him so that I might accompany him.

ESTACIO. That is worse.

AMARO. How so?

ESTACIO. Wouldn’t it be better to ask for his vestment?

AMARO. He wants to leave by the garden. He is dying of shame and fear.

ESTACIO. By the garden!

AMARO. Let’s wait here. He’ll soon be here.

(Enter FRIAR PEDRO, a novice.)

FRIAR PEDRO. They must expect me already. Come on, shame, what are we doing? What does it matter what they’ll say; it’ll all be over in eight days. Memories of my affairs make me suffer greatly. I am not one for obeying. How bad it is to lose one’s freedom in this day and age.


FRIAR DIEGO. No, Lord, by your clemency; and since I brought him to you myself, don’t let him stray. Francis, your cord fettered this little bird—why do you let him fly where the snare of the world may drag him to the depths. I will remain on my knees until you do me the favor of stopping him.

FRIAR PEDRO. What do I wait for?! I, the rope? I, the brown sackcloth?

FRIAR DIEGO. Christ! Francis! Lord! (He kneels down.)

FRIAR PEDRO. I will leave this cloister.

(They discover on two rocks depictions of SAINT FRANCIS and OUR LORD CHRIST, crucified.)

FRIAR DIEGO. Oh, Francis, he is leaving!

(At the friar’s going out, SAINT FRANCIS lowers his hand, and OUR LORD CHRIST detaches his from the cross, and they hold Friar Pedro in between.)

SAINT FRANCIS. Pedro, so you leave me already!

FRIAR DIEGO. He caught him: he didn’t leave.

CHRIST. Pedro, my yoke is soft: try, try, and you will see.

FRIAR DIEGO. And the same love that is more!


FRIAR DIEGO. If the vise of that divine love grips you in that fashion, you are held in its grasp until death.

FRIAR PEDRO. Lord, your piety persuades my ignorance. Francis, I pray you will pardon me.

FRIAR DIEGO. Well, to whom is pardon denied?

SAINT FRANCIS. Return to my fold, Pedro, return. This merciful Lord will grant you pardon.

CHRIST. Yes, I will do it, through the intercession of my victorious lieutenant.

FRIAR DIEGO. You have arrived at a beautiful haven, for between the Francis and Christ there are the marks of ten wounds.

FRIAR PEDRO. I promise the two of you. . .

FRIAR DIEGO. And I guarantee he will fulfill it honestly.

FRIAR PEDRO. To persevere.

FRIAR DIEGO. Yes, he will do it.

(They let go of him: CHRIST replacing his hand on the cross, and SAINT FRANCIS in a raised position.)

FRIAR PEDRO. What happened to me?! What did I see here?

FRIAR DIEGO. The fool is astounded. He doesn’t see that the best hunters, who take heaven and earth for their nets of love, have captured him.

FRIAR PEDRO. The images on this gate spoke to me, and have stopped me, unless my eyes are mistaken. Who goes here? Now everything terrifies me.

FRIAR DIEGO. Pedro, are you well?

FRIAR PEDRO. Oh, my friar Diego!

FRIAR DIEGO. The night dew will make you ill, if you stay outside your cell like this.

FRIAR PEDRO. Padre, if He was here, what ill can He have in store for me?

FRIAR DIEGO. There can no longer be any. Fulfill what he has said: understand?


FRIAR DIEGO. Go with God. (FRIAR PEDRO goes out. Diego prays:)— You intervene with a fire that kindles the soul. Is it any wonder that it melts the ice of our hearts? You have given me great mercy. What will I give you, my dear one, in payment? What will the ignorant Diego do, my Jesus, for your love? What will the poor peasant, the idiot, the lay friar, the wretch, the scum, the ash, the dust, the nothing, do? Here you are, my beloved cross, banner against the enemies of man. In truth, I must bring you out, and here in the middle set you up for our greater wonder. Oh how lovely you are to speak to us of love. Would that I had many flowers to crown you with!

(Takes the cross fastened to the wall, and puts it in the middle of the stage.)

Life dies, and I die without life,
Offending the life of my death;
Divine blood the veins divulge,
And my diamond its hardness forgets.
The Grandeur of God is stretched
On a hard cross, and—I am such
That am of his pains the most potent,
And of his body the cruelest wound.

Oh cold heart, hard marble!
They God holds open his left side,
And, 0dost thou not discharge a copious river?!

To die for him will be divine accord.
Yet thou art my life, my Christ,
And as I have it not, I do not lose it.

(He ascends up the cross to the upper part of the stage, accompanied by music.)


FRIAR JUAN. I say, padre, I definitely have seen him elevated here.

PORTER. I do not doubt it, padre; but I advise you to keep silent. The servants of God regret that his deeds become publicized.

FRIAR JUAN. When they are as mysterious as the two of us know they are, for God’s glory they must.

PORTER. Padre, look what is happening!

FRIAR JUAN. Heaven has become this house!

PORTER. What can one see of greater joy on earth?

FRIAR JUAN. This grace is from the cross.

DOOR-KEEPER. He speaks so many words of love to it, that he rises with it up to heaven.

(Diego descends, with music.)

FRIAR JUAN. Hide yourself here, padre: don’t let him see that we have seen him.

FRIAR DIEGO. Bed of my sweet Christ—if only I could lie on thee so! Happy Peter and Andrew, who merited such good! Happy those who placed their hands and feet on you! But now the dawn shows itself. My sick patients what will they say, my cross? They will miss me. I return you to your wall, because I have to give them certain syrups and purgatives. (He takes the cross out of the socket and returns it to the wall.) (Exit.)

FRIAR JUAN. Our voices must have parted him from his soft loves, if he chanced to hear them in the divine ecstacy.

DOOR-KEEPER. By what a route this lay saint goes preparing for his death, padre! How he teaches the educated!

FRIAR JUAN. How his saintly mother suckled him in the milk of true religion!

DOOR-KEEPER. They say he waged notable battles with the Devil at the Convent of the Willows.

FRIAR JUAN. He was like a rock in the middle of the sea the winds try to demolish. There in the ice he loved to show his pure and honest zeal a thousand times. He imitated his father Francis there at the convent of Zarza, and threw the devil, in human form, from a stairway and a steep rock. There they saw him speak with the angels.

DOOR-KEEPER. Well, what were they doing coming to converse with he whom their Divine Lord spoke with so many times?

FRIAR JUAN. The angel, did it have human form?

DOOR-KEEPER. That is the case when it is part of God’s plan.

FRIAR JUAN. How does he take it?

DOOR-KEEPER. That, padre, you will see in St. Thomas, if you look.

FRIAR JUAN. What question—number?

DOOR-KEEPER. Fifty-one, and, in Alexander of Alaes, in question thirty-four; St. Bonaventure brings, and so does Scotus Erigena with the ecclesiastical doctors, clear reasons to bear on this.

FRIAR JUAN. An angel takes a human body?!

DOOR-KEEPER. An angel takes a human body when he wants to speak to a man.

FRIAR JUAN. Hear this argument, padre.

DOOR-KEEPER. You don’t have to discourse with me.

FRIAR JUAN. Listen, I say.

DOOR-KEEPER. What do I have to hear?

(Enter FRIAR DIEGO, with a glass.)

FRIAR DIEGO. Tell him to wait a moment. I’m carrying this syrup now in a hurry.

FRIAR JUAN. Listen and respond.

DOOR-KEEPER. Yes I will.

FRIAR JUAN. You know it’s a grave error for one to be presumptuous.

FRIAR DIEGO. To be presumptuous. What does that mean?

DOOR-KEEPER. Go take care of your sick, friar Diego; it is late.—He knows nothing of this.

FRIAR DIEGO. I know it now: God only knows, but go ahead and say it, on my life.

DOOR-KEEPER. It was the question ultra angeli  possunt assumere corpora.

FRIAR DIEGO. If an angel can take human form?

DOOR-KEEPER. HE understood the Latin I told him in jest!

FRIAR DIEGO. And, how, since it is part of the faith, and provable by the Scriptures! Abraham saw three angels who announced the conception of Isaac, as three men; two of them proclaimed the fire of Sodom to Lot; Tobias saw the lovely form of a youth, that was an angel; and St. Luke said, padres, that the angel who appeared to the Virgin, since he entered where she was, it seems likely he did so in human form.

DOOR-KEEPER. There is such a thing! Dic Pater, et possunt mali assumere corpus?

FRIAR DIEGO. Yes, and it is part of the faith.

FRIAR JUAN. Remarkable case!

FRIAR DIEGO. In the figure of a serpent, well suited to his iniquities, he was placed in Paradise; the children know this. He came to Christ atop the mountain, so He would adore him. And this reason is in agreement: that the good can take on natural forms. Surely it is an easy argument, that if the good can take it, so can the evil.

DOOR-KEEPER. What is it to take a body?

FRIAR DIEGO. It is to make oneself manifest by sensible sign, in which what is there is made known.

DOOR-KEEPER. Padre, reflect on such a marvellous thing.

FRIAR JUAN. There is no genius that he doesn’t amaze.

DOOR-KEEPER. Does he take a body out of necessity?


DOOR-KEEPER. Then how.

FRIAR DIEGO. Wait. The good takes it only for our improvement. By this he makes it possible for man to treat him familiarly; and it shows the companionship we must have with them in the eternal life. As the evil ones take it on to insult man, the good ones in order to aid him.

DOOR-KEEPER. Tell us: the angel, does he constitute this body?

FRIAR DIEGO. No, he prepares it.

DOOR-KEEPER. If an evil one transforms himself into an angel of light, or into a Christ, would it be a sin to adore him?

FRIAR DIEGO. It would be a sin to adore him, if ignorance didn’t excuse it. . . —But, padres, that concludes this question. In truth, as I am ignorant, I was forgetting the sickness I have to take the syrup for. (Exit.)

FRIAR JUAN. Is there anything more wonderful?

DOOR-KEEPER. Supernatural things are not in nature, nor in art, my padre. All of this is clearly a miracle.

FRIAR JUAN. What could be greater than to see an ignorant layman speak on such lofty matters, and that he declares so easily to us the concept that makes of these things?

DOOR-KEEPER. I will not call anyone pious who doubts that this is pure innocence.

FRIAR JUAN. None can deny such obvious signs of his sainthood.

DOOR-KEEPER. His charity was enough.

FRIAR JUAN. And this example alone would suffice: he licked all the sores of a leper, whom no one dared look in the face.

DOOR-KEEPER. Well, the alms he makes by miracle are replete, because without having bread, wine or meat, he somehow has more than enough wine, meat and bread.—Now the patron who is remaking our convent arrives.

FRIAR JUAN. God prosper and protect him.


GUARDIAN. Your Excellency may be certain that these arches will be much improved.

ARCHBISHOP. This part will remain very grand and exposed.

GUARDIAN. One will be able to contemplate the bas-reliefs.

ARCHBISHOP. Where is friar Diego?

GUARDIAN. There in his garden picking flowers and speaking endearments.

ARCHBISHOP. I am extremely fond of him.

FRIAR JUAN. Sir, if you had seen what has happened here, you would approve of him with even greater reason.

ARCHBISHOP. How is that?

DOOR-KEEPER. To test him, I intended to argue with him in Latin. And so rightly did he understand and resolve the argument, that if you heard the conclusion from Scotus or Alexander, you would not leave more satisfied.

ARCHBISHOP. Let us go see him.

PORTER. Heaven is in his breast. (Exeunt.)

Scene 3

The convent in Alcalá

(Enter FRIAR DIEGO with some lettuce and radishes.)

FRIAR DIEGO. (To himself) In faith, I collected them, and the gardener didn’t see it: they guard these in vain from me and my theft. Since I found nothing to give at the door, the garden must pay. Patience, garden; the day God creates these things you cannot deny them. Oh! what beautiful lettuce! Blessed be your maker! What radishes! what color! Whoever made the stars and another thousand things aside from these, how greatly may his power be shown in these? But I want to wash them first, for there’ll be time enough to deal with that, most sweet love. I don’t want to give them like this, for I want to get the dirt off them. I’ll wash them in this stream, since he offers himself to me here. I haven’t sung to you for some time. Well, wait, holy Jesus, I have to wash and sing. I want to give you music since you like it so much. (Sits to wash the lettuce and sings:)

There was our Eternal God
On his sovereign throne. . .

MUSIC. (Within.)

Surrounded by the angels fair
Who worshiped him alone.


The Lord was taking pity
On the wretched human being. . .

MUSIC. Although he had offended Him,
Ungrateful, man disobeying.

(Enter A DEVIL, who, as FRIAR DIEGO is washing the radishes and placing them to one side, goes along collecting them.)


His justice and His mercy
In His breast did war. . .

MUSIC. Love won, indeed, and so
He said to the Holy Word…

FRIAR DIEGO. (Turns his head, sees how THE DEVIL is gathering the vegetables, and says:) Oh villain! You take from me the vegetables I am gathering and washing for the poor!

DEVIL. I do it, Diego, out of envy, to see how the angels finish what you sing. (Exit.)

FRIAR DIEGO. Give me my vegetables, traitor.—But no, I want nothing from your hand, even for the poor, villain. . . Villain, you were beautiful, and ungrateful to the Lord who made you so beautiful. . . —But, Oh Lord! who has left this breviary here? I want to open it. If only I could understand these verses and psalms, my God, that your ancestor sang to you, after He wept over them! Give me a teacher, Lord!

(By an artifice a child Jesus is set on the book.)

FRIAR DIEGO. Oh, my sovereign child! If you come to teach me, I will be the best learned man ever on earth. Speak, speak, I await. Teach me the ABC’s with this holy pointer, where you entered the lesson in blood, through three nails. Let’s begin with the Christus. Oh, Lord! how well we begin! Thus a door keeper told me when I came to look for you, and this sackcloth was given me by that lover of yours, to whom you gave the roses of your feet, side and hands. What did you say, my life? Oh! Blessed be the pure cloister that kept you nine months, and those cherished breasts where you placed the corals of these lips! For the letter D, Blessed Child, I learn to die for my guilt and my sins. Behold the letter F, for face, for death you had to face so that all men might live.—Did he go? Well, I will come after you; however fast you fly, I will find you in the shrine so Godly, so great and so high. (Exit.)

Scene 4

In the Convent in Alcalá


REFECTIONER. Believe me, your reverence, I am telling the truth.

GUARDIAN. Even though it’s for charity, I will place friar Diego under pain of obedience to never take bread from the refectory.

REFECTIONER. It is notorious to all.

GUARDIAN. I know he will stop doing it; I have already scolded him, but he doesn’t do it for his own profit.

REFECTIONER. I am always suspicious, always vigilant and clever; but he comes so stealthily, that he steals all I have. It’s for that reason I come to complain.

GUARDIAN. Well, go to your refectory, padre friar Gil, and keep quiet; I will reproach friar Diego.

REFECTIONER. For Heaven’s sake, padre, I pray you do so.

GUARDIAN. If I find him guilty, I will give him his punishment.

REFECTIONER. Or you may also order another to serve in my place.

GUARDIAN. Go, and don’t trouble yourself about me.

REFECTIONER. If you gathered all the bread now set before the padres, or when it comes from the oven in a basket, you could just give it to him all at once. (Exit.)

GUARDIAN. That’s just his temper.—If I only knew how to go about this. How could I reproach him? I envy so much virtue, such ardent charity, such purity, such goodness, silence and tranquility. Oh saintliest man! What an example you give us all!

(Enter THE COOK.)

COOK. I can’t put up with it anymore. Give me your blessing right now, your reverence, and put me in another job, or make the kitchen safe from friar Diego.

GUARDIAN. What has he done?

COOK. He plucks the beef and the mutton right out of the pot. And yesterday he carried off from me a pot that had half a chicken in it for a sick man, saying that a man who was dying of hunger begged it of him. Though I went running after him, I don’t know where he went, I couldn’t overtake him.

GUARDIAN. Have patience, friar Gaspar, I will remedy this. Go with God; friar Diego will not break in any more to anger you.

COOK. You must punish him: that, or I pray you relieve me of the responsibility of the kitchen.

GUARDIAN. I will correct this.

COOK. Even if you place a hard, solid wall in between, his charity will find a way to make trouble for you. No matter how much he has taken, the community has never been short of food.

(Enter FRIAR DIEGO, with a skirtful of bread.)

FRIAR DIEGO. I collected it handsomely. I saw the refectioner, and I don’t think he saw me! Go, brave little loaves! Come, my dear poor.

GUARDIAN. Deo Gratias.

FRIAR DIEGO. Today I have trouble.

GUARDIAN. Tell me, where are you taking the bread?

FRIAR DIEGO. My God! what will I tell him?

GUARDIAN. Show the bread. It is not right (although I know your heart) for the convent to lack it.

FRIAR DIEGO. Padre, what did you say?!

GUARDIAN. Disclose. It is not good to hide the bread and take away our food. (Discloses his skirt full of roses.) What is this?!

FRIAR DIEGO. Roses: don’t you see?

GUARDIAN. Then, it isn’t bread?

FRIAR DIEGO. No my padre Guardian.

GUARDIAN. Strange transformation!

FRIAR DIEGO. Take that carnation. Look, what a handsome lily!

GUARDIAN. Go with God.

FRIAR DIEGO. When did I go, my Jesus, to your garden to pick these flowers?! But turn them back into bread, because your loving guests await me. (Exit.)

GUARDIAN. What can I think now, after seeing this portent? God wanted to transform the bread he kept from me into those flowers and roses, so I wouldn’t take it from him: whoever sees this and doubts such miraculous achievements, is lacking in faith and pious intent.


FRIAR TOMAS. Give me your hand and blessing, your reverence.

GUARDIAN. Oh my padre friar Tomas! A thousand times welcome. Tell me, what has detained you?

FRIAR TOMAS. I was in San Nicolás, home of our friar Diego, because on my way from Seville I passed through that village; and found myself witnessing the death of his father.

GUARDIAN. He is dead already?

FRIAR TOMAS. Very old and holy.

GUARDIAN. That is certain, as quite justly such a tree gives birth to such fruit. But do not tax him by telling friar Diego of his death, since his natural love for his father would cause him great pain.

FRIAR TOMAS. If he saw his father die, and was a witness, as I was, why should I give him the story of what he himself saw?

GUARDIAN. What are you telling me, friar Tomas?! Friar Diego in San Nicolás, when he never left here?!

FRIAR TOMAS. Why not, if I saw him console his father.

GUARDIAN. I can assure you you are deceived, since he has been in Alcalá for years.

FRIAR TOMAS. I believe my desire to see him would have been so strong as to deceive me, if I didn’t know he is a saint. Knowing that, padre, believe me that I spoke and saw him there.

GUARDIAN. What do I doubt, if I have seen so much from him? Silence, under pain of obedience, friar Tomas…

FRIAR TOMAS. I will be silent.

GUARDIAN. Until you are informed.

FRIAR TOMAS. I know your reverence will find this to be the truth.

GUARDIAN. I say that I have not doubted it, but I know he hasn’t been missing from our community, nor left the convent. Friar Nofre comes, and he will corroborate.

FRIAR TOMAS. It must be a miracle.

GUARDIAN. That I feel.


FRIAR ALONSO. Give orders, your reverence, that friar Diego be immediately put to bed. He is very sick from an open sore he has: it is not good to dissimulate if he is near death, as the doctors say.

GUARDIAN. I feared what is happening to him, because he didn’t want to wait for the iron to cauterize the wound.

FRIAR ALONSO. He must think that the iron he wears about his waist can cure him.


DOOR-KEEPER. I think our padre is going fast.

GUARDIAN. Why do you say that?

PORTER. He lay down or reclined, knowing the Lord comes for him, as he had wanted and begged. The Lord told him many lofty things; and those along with his injuries proclaim him near death.

GUARDIAN. It pains me that he leaves us now. You may leave, padres. Now I go.

FRIAR TOMAS. I will make known, if he dies, things that Spain will marvel at, to think it merits such a son. (Exeunt, THE GUARDIAN remains.)

GUARDIAN. What is this, Eternal Lord? Thus you permit and desire that we remain without the virtuous ones! It is better that we are consoled by having over there one who with so many merits will pray for us.

AN ANGEL. (Above.) Padre Guardian, today God permits this son of Francis, poor, humble and innocent, to fly from the earth to the seat which awaits him; and so you may be further consoled, He wants the world to honor Diego, and venerate him as a saint. In the time of King Philip, who they will call the Prudent, the prince Don Carlos will gain health through Diego. God wants to do this miracle, because such an occasion inspires prelates, cities, kings and the universities to canonize him. And in order to celebrate this, Sextus V, a brother of yours, will sit in the Roman See. Fortunate Alcalá, that you have such a fortune in saintly men! But it is right that you propagate them, since the blood of two such valiant children has irrigated you. (Exit.)

GUARDIAN. I heard the voice, but I didn’t see the speaker. If it was a (Curtain opens. . .) celestial spirit?— The curtain reveals Diego; now he dies. Enough; the Archbishop is also present at his death.

Scene 5

In the convent

(FRIAR DIEGO lies with a cross in hand, surrounded by his brother friars.)

FRIAR DIEGO. My soul wants to embrace you with a thousand hugs and kisses—Oh sovereign standard, where the relics of that divine captain’s glory live imprinted! He who came to open his doors to us, so we may enter by his victory! Oh, my cross and my most precious, now I beg your favor!

FRIAR ALONSO. Padres, in this manner, embracing the wood of the Cross, he will be able to pass across the gulf of the sea of death that awaits him.

GUARDIAN. Who else would be able to pass so sweetly through its waters!

FRIAR DIEGO. Padres, God keep you, and the rest who are here with my padre Guardian. And you, great prelate, you who hold so worthily the seat of Toledo, I entreat you to pardon me, and bless me.

ARCHBISHOP. I cannot respond through my tears. God bless you!

FRIAR DIEGO. My God, I bear confidence in you that now we will see each other. Dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulcia ferens pondera, only you were worthy portare regem coe loruml (Kissing the cross he expires.)

ARCHBISHOP. Now he’s dead!

GUARDIAN. Now he lives in God!

FRIAR JUAN. What a divine odor!

FRIAR ALONSO. The village is troubled.

GUARDIAN. That is no marvel, since such a jewel it has in you.

ARCHBISHOP. Close the gates; the people rush in. Place yourself in veneration.

(Enter A CITIZEN and A LADY.)

CITIZEN. Let us see; it is right. Padres, you want to hide such an excellent treasure!

LADY. They will break down the doors!

ANOTHER LADY. Open to us, padre friar Juan.

A MAN. Padre friar Juan! give orders to open.

ANOTHER. Let us see—it is just!—the holy friar Diego.

ANOTHER. If you don’t uncover him quickly, they’ll start a quarrel with you.

(Enter A BOY with HIS FATHER.)

FATHER. Now you may say, although I come with you, that in friar Diego you have lost a father.

BOY. I promise you. There was never a day when I’d see the lay saint, that he wouldn’t give me some bread.—Father! ah father! I’ve lost my father. I have no father, oh my God!

LADY. They have uncovered his sepulchre as quickly as they were able to.

ANOTHER LADY. How beautiful! How handsome he is!

ANOTHER LADY. We say our rosaries.

(Here Diego’s body is revealed, surrounded with many silver lamps, and all the padres who can fit around him.)

BOY. Father! ah father! He is dead now! Now I have no father! Ah father! And my bread, padre friar Diego?! Who must give it to me now?

(FRIAR DIEGO’S arm reaches out with a roll and gives it to the boy.)

CITIZEN. A miracle, a miracle!

GUARDIAN. Oh, heavens! The deceased saint gave him bread; even dead his heart showed ardent charity!

BOY. Prostrated on the ground, I thank you for your charitable concern, my father.

GUARDIAN. As the sea of his miracles is so deep, here we must give an end to the life and death of our Spanish San Diego.