St. John the Almsgiver pays the same beggar three times

Pocket Bard’s notes: I think this is a great, short morality piece about the value of charity and not hardening your heart. It can be performed very quickly (less than 2 minutes) and has a lovely ending. I leave this one almost entirely as-is when I perform it.


St. John the Almsgiver pays the same beggar three times
The Golden Legend, Volume I, trans. William Granger Ryan, p.116

A poor man in pilgrim’s dress came to John [the Almsgiver] and begged for alms. John called his steward and said: “Give him six gold pieces!” The man took the money, went away and changed his cloths, came back, and again begged alms of the patriarch, who called his steward and said: “Give him six gold pieces!” After the beggar had left, the steward told the patriarch: “That’s the second time today. All he did was change his clothes, but because you asked, I gave.” Blessed John pretended not to know this. The mendicant, however, changed clothes again and begged alms of John a third time. The steward touched the patriarch’s arm and nodded that this was the same man. Blessed John responded: “Go and give him twelve gold pieces! It may be my Lord Jesus Christ, testing me to see whether this man can go on asking more than I can go on giving!”

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