The Prioress


Everyday a young Christian boy sings O Alma Redemptoris as he walks down a Jewish street. This song is in praise of the Virgin Mary. Satan tells the Jews that the boy who sings is a disgrace to them and he sings to spite the Jewish holy laws. The Jews then hire a murderer to kill the boy. One day as the boy walks through the ghetto singing, the murderer grabs him, cuts his throaght, and tosses his body into a cesspool.

The boys mother, a young widow, goes house to house asking the Jews where her son is, but they all lie to her. Jesus however puts the alleyway where the boy was murdered in the mothers thoughts, so she goes there and can hear her sons voice singing O Alma Redemptoris. The christians gather around to see the body and then they demand the Jews to be bound and hanged. The child continues to sing until he is buried completely and the pearl that the Virgin Mary placed on his tongue is taken.


The prioress is a very dainty woman who speaks some french, has very good table manners, and is a bigger set woman. She is a woman who would cry and weep if she saw a mouse caught in a trap, but she would feed her dogs flesh. She is very elegantly dressed and wears a pendant that reads "Amor Vincent Omnia" or "Love conquers all". The prioress is also a woman of religion and loves the Virgin Mary.


The moral of this tale is pretty much that christians are the good guys, while on the other hand the Jews are the bad guys and are associated with Satan. The Prioress dedicates her life to serving the Virgin Mary so it makes sense that her tale is about the Virgin Mary and how people who are associated with the Virgin Mary are good and people who are not associated with her are bad. Also the other goal of this story is to make Jewish people look bad and since The Prioress is Christian it makes sense that her story would portray Jews as evil people.


usury- lending money at an exorbitant interest rate

greyn- a pearl

O Alma Redemptoris-Latin, meaning "O redemptive soul."

Saint Augustine- One of the great church fathers, he consolidated the diverse elements of the early church and authored Confessions and The City of God.

a new Rachel- Rachel was the wife of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and was regarded in medieval times as prefiguring Christ.


In order to fully understand this tale I had to research about how in medieval England christians had a religious hatred for Jews and this hatred was often shown in stories such as this tale. I also had to do some research on the song the boy was singing during the tale to understand why the Jews were getting mad and what the song was about.

Essential Questions

Is the Prioress another corrupt religious figure in the novel, why or why not? How does her tale support your answer?