The Virgin Wept


The Chapel at Pena

The Virgin wept to see the destruction of the monastery. First lightning and now the earthquake turned it to ruins. Thank God the chapel escaped harm so the monks and pilgrims still can come and pray.

“But what will happen to my poor monks now?”

“Please, you must return to your grave, sister. You are entertaining this terrible delusion and worse, perpetuating it among the living.”

“Who are you? How dare you speak to the Holy Virgin Mary that way.”

“Oh please. You are Maria Rosario. I’m your brother Filipe. We both died in a plague centuries ago. You were only thirteen when you perished. It has maddened you.”

“My brother…then I…”

“You keep manifesting yourself here and silly fools think you are their blessed Virgin. Stop it. Miriam, wife of Yosef couldn’t have been a virgin all her life as the Catholic legends state. Come. Return to your rest.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw weekly writing challenge. Today, Pegman takes us to Pena, Portugal via Google street maps. The idea is to use the image and location as an inspiration to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is exactly 150.

As usual, I consulted Google and Wikipedia and discovered Pena Palace has an interesting history. According to tradition, construction of the chapel began after an apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen. Pilgrimages to the site have been occurring since the Middle Ages.

Interestingly enough, about five months ago, I wrote a similar tale that was also critical of the system of Saints called The Fall of the Saints. I do consider myself a religious person but according to many Christian and Jewish authorities, it is highly unlikely that Miriam (Mary) remained a virgin all her life.

So I developed an alternate (fictional) explanation for such “visions”.

Oh, the monastery was damaged by lightning in the 18th century and  destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Obviously it has since been rebuilt.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to


20 thoughts on “The Virgin Wept

  1. Interesting stuff. I had heard that this particular controversy is rooted in the translation of the Hebrew word Almah in the book of Isaiah. Does it mean “virgin,” or merely “young girl?” Dogma is a strange thing, since it represses argument. I like how you brought this story to life.


    • Actually, one of the arguments Judaism presents against the virgin birth of Jesus is that the word could indeed mean “young girl.” While Christianity as a whole believes Miriam (Mary) was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth to Jesus, they do not believe she and Yosef (Joseph) remained celibate afterwards. In Judaism, especially in that day, having many children was considered a blessing.

      I’m not well versed on Catholicism, but it is my understanding that Catholics believe Mary had to be a virgin all of her life. I’m not sure why that’s an issue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My understanding is that the church didn’t want to have to pay for the families of the priests, so celibacy was required. It moved from a practical consideration to a moral one. Certainly it is responsible for a great deal of suffering the world around.


      • They choose to believe this because of the role they assign to Mary as Mother of God, I’ve read, but her supppsed immaculate conception connects somehow with some other diety they have borrowed and given an extreme make-over.


      • Probably no modern version of Christianity maps very well to that ancient Jewish movement once known as “The Way.” It’s why I tend to be attracted to a more Hebraic view of the entire Bible.


  2. Dear James,
    Now that explains a lot, doesn’t it? I was once privy to a conversation between a couple of friends. One was a Protestant and the other a Catholic. The latter was horrified when the former suggested that Yosef and Miriam had more children after Jesus. Aside from that I enjoyed your story. 😉




  3. It’s part of the claim of the Roman Catholic Church that Miriam was immaculately conceived…which thus makes ‘Mary’ ‘Co-Redemptrix’, ‘Mother of G-d’, and ‘Queen of Heaven’. The RCC merely prefers its own writings to the actual Scriptures, which plainly state the Miriam and Yosef did not come together until after Yeshua’s birth and had at least 4 sons, and 2 daughters by Yosef.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating take on the prompt, James. From what little I know, I think it highly unlikely Mary and Joseph did not go on to have more children – as you say, children were a blessing in Jewish households. But then I’ve also read that as a good Jew Jesus would be highly unlikely to have remained unmarried until his death at the age of 33. But then that’s opening a whole different can of worms.
    Nicely done


    • Thanks, and I agree with all your points. However, Jesus had a very specific mission in life, and if he had married and especially had children, they could potentially have (mistakenly) become objects of worship, so his remaining single was probably deliberate. It’s interesting that Paul rose so high in the ranks of the Pharisees without any mention of a wife of children.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Such details are lost to history I suspect. I get your point about Jesus and his ministry, thugh personally I would have no issue with the idea of him having a family – it makes him more human, his sacrifice all the greater


      • It’s not a matter of that so much as what the Biblical record communicates. Interestingly enough, our knowledge of the history of the 1st century CE middle east and diaspora is pretty thin, so research into the New Testament text is ongoing.

        Liked by 2 people

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