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The New World in Lope de Vega’s Columbus and St. Christopher: El nuevo mundo descubierto por Cristóbal Colón

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Chapter Summary

In act three of Lope de Vega's El nuevo mundo descubierto por Cristóbal Colón, King Ferdinand greets the mariner upon his triumphant return to Spain and compares him to his namesake, Saint Christopher. The iconography of this popular saint unites a number of motifs in the play. Like St. Christopher, Columbus crosses a dangerous body of water to bring Christ to a new shore. St. Christopher traditionally carries a staff that is either a dead branch with its limbs severed or else a live tree. These opposing images and the legend of St. Christopher embody the Christian iconographical narrative of a dead tree made to blossom and bear fruit, a tradition that unites the Tree of Knowledge from the Garden of Eden with Christ's death on the cross. St. Christopher is a patron saint of mariners, and like Moses he is famed for his victory over dangerous waters.

Keywords: Columbus; dead tree; King Ferdinand; Lope de Vega; Moses; Saint Christopher; Spain

10.1163/9789004263017_013
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