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The motif Priest in HCA : Danish Popular Legends (1870)
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The motif Priest in HCA : Danish Popular Legends (1870)

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Description of this motif: One can find several priests in Andersen's tales, but they seldomly play important roles. "A Story" (1851) stars a priest, though.

Example 1:

There is a beautiful tradition worth telling about the churchbell of Farum. The parsonage stood close by the church. It was a dark night late in the fall, and the minister was sitting up at a late hour preparing his sabbath sermon, when he heard a slight, strange sound from the large church-bell. No wind was blowing, and the sound was inexplicable to him; he got up, took the keys, and went into the church. As he entered the church the sound stopped suddenly, but he heard a faint sigh from above. »Who is there, disturbing the peace of the church?« he asked, in a loud voice. Footsteps were heard from the tower, and he saw in the passage-way a little boy advancing toward him.

»Be not angry!« said the child. »I slipped in here when the Vesper Service was rung; my mother is very sick!« and now the little boy could not say more for the tears that choked him. The minister patted him on the cheek, and encouraged him to be frank, and to tell him all about it.

»They say that my mother – my sweet, good mother – is going to die; but I knew that when one is sick unto death he may recover again and live, if in the middle of the night one dares enter the church, and scrape off a little rust from the large church-bell; that is a safeguard against death. Therefore I came here and hid myself until I heard the clock strike twelve. I was so afraid! I thought of all the dead ones, and of their coming into the church. I dared not look out; I read my Lord's Prayer, and scraped the rust off the bell.«

»Come, my good child,« said the minister; »our Lord will forsake neither thy mother nor thee.« So they went together to the poor cottage, where the sick woman was lying. She slept quietly and soundly. Our Lord granted her life, and his blessings shone over her and her son.

Example 2:

From North Seeland there comes a gloomy incident that stirs the thoughts. The church of Roervig is situated far out toward the sand hills by the stormy Kattegat. One evening a large ship dropped anchor out there, and was presumed to be a Russian man-of-war. In the night a knocking was heard at the gate of the parsonage, and several armed and masked persons ordered the minister to put on his ecclesiastical gown and accompany them out to the church. They promised him good pay, but used menaces if he declined to go. He went with them. The church was lighted, unknown people were gathered, and all was in deep silence. Before the altar the bride and bridegroom were waiting, dressed in magnificent clothes, as if they were of high rank, but the bride was pale as a corpse. When the marriage ceremony was finished, a shot was heard, and the bride lay dead before the altar. They took the corpse, and all went away with it. The next morning the ship had weighed anchor. To this day nobody has been able to give any explanation of the event.

The minister who took part in it wrote down the whole event in his Bible, which is handed down in his family. The old church is still standing between the sand hills at the tossing Kattegat, and the story lives in writing and in memory.

Example 3:

I must tell you one more church legend. There lived in Denmark, on the island of Falster, a rich lady of rank, who had no children, and her family was about to die out. So she took a part of her riches, and built a magnificent church. When it was finished, and the altar-candles lighted, she stepped up to the altar-table and prayed on her knees to our Lord, that He would grant her, for her pious gift, a life upon the earth as long as her church was standing. Years went by. Her relations died, her old friends and acquaintances, and all the former servants of the manor were laid in their graves; but she, who made such an evil wish, did not die. Generation upon generation became strange to her, she did not approach anybody, and nobody approached her. She wasted away in a long dotage, and sat abandoned and alone; her senses were blunted, she was like a sleeping, but not like a dead person. Every Christmas Eve the life in her flashed up for a moment, and she got her voice again. Then she would order her people to put her in an oak coffin, and place it in the open burying-place of the church. The minister then would come on the Christmas night to her, in order to receive her commands. She was laid in the coffin, and it was brought to the church. The minister came, as ordered, every Christmas night, through the choir up to the coffin, raised the cover for the old, wearied lady, who was lying there without rest.

»Is my church still standing?« she asked, with shivering voice; and upon the minister's answer, »It stands still!« she sighed profoundly and sorrowfully, and fell back again. The minister let the cover down, and came again the next Christmas night, and the next again, and still again the following. Now there is no stone of the church left upon another, no traces of the buried dead ones. A large whitethorn grows here on the field, with beautiful flowers every spring, as if it were the sign of the resurrection of life. It is said that it grows on the very spot where the coffin with the noble lady stood, where her dust became dust of earth.

Comment on this quote: The whitethorn is a symol of faith, that is also present in Godfather's Picture Book.
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