Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Christ, who is long-suffering and merciful

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When Diocletian reigned, he decreed, that whosoever committed adultery should be put to death. It happened that a certain knight married a girl and had a son by her. The child grew, and every one loved him. After a while his father went out to battle, and fighting manfully, was deprived of his right arm. In the mean time his wife lost her honour; and the husband, on his return, discovering his shame, ought, according to law, to have put her to death. Calling his son, therefore, he said, "My dear boy, your mother has committed adultery, and by law should die; but I have lost my arm, and am unable to destroy her. I command you to do this." The son answered, "The law enjoins children to honour their parents; and if I should slay my own mother contrary to the law, I should bring down her curse. Therefore in this I cannot obey you." So the woman was saved from death by the piety of her son.


My beloved, the emperor is God; the knight Christ, and the wife the soul. If the soul err, the law of God commands its death. Christ fights against the devil, and loses an arm, that is, all the austerity which incarnation confers.