Monday, March 28, 2005

The Keeper of the Keys: the legend of Beatrix the nun and the Virgin Mary

I prefer legends to apparitions. Legends teach me aspects of truth, even if the facts are questionable. Apparitions scare me into running for the hills and hiding under rocks. Here, then, is my favorite legend of Mary, also known as Theotokos:

Once, there was a nun named Beatrix, who was the custodian of a convent. She was called the Keeper of the Keys. Beatrix was beautiful in form and devout in spirit, but unwise to the temptations of the outside world. A traveler came to the doors one day, and developed a strong passion for Beatrix. He urged and coaxed her to run away with him. Beatrix tried to resist, but the desire to know earthly love was strong, and at last, she consented to leave the convent. Before she left, Beatrix laid her keys at the foot of the statue of the Virgin Mary.

"Dear Lady, I have served you as devoutly as I could, but I can no longer withstand the temptations of the flesh” she said. “I resign these keys to you. Please guard my loved ones within the convent and remember me when I am out in the world.”

After a few days, the traveler abandoned Beatrix. “You are no longer a nun, but you shall not be my wife,” he said. Beatrix despaired. In that time, a woman had only a few choices for her livelihood: she could marry, join the convent, or live on the streets. Beatrix was too ashamed to return to the convent, so she spent the next fifteen years in the city streets doing whatever what was required to survive.

One day, Beatrix returned to her convent, dressed in rags and gaunt with street living. She could not bear to live in the streets another day, and hoped that perhaps the convent would give her a meager job to finish out her days. She walked up to the door-keeper and inquired, “Did you ever hear of a nun called Sister Beatrix? She was the custodian of this place, and was called the keeper of the keys.”

The doorkeeper said, “Yes, and she still is! She is an honest and holy woman who has loyally served this convent since she was a young woman. There she is, over in the courtyard.” Beatrix looked, and saw a woman sweeping the flagstones. She walked up to the woman to inquire who the person actually was.

The woman turned to her. Beatrix shook, and knelt. “Dear Lady,” Beatrix murmured, scarcely able to believe her senses.

“Yes,” the Lady said, “I have served in your place these past fifteen years. No one knows of your absence. Now, return to your place and do penance, for you are my keeper of the keys.” With many tears, Beatrix thanked the Lady and resumed her place as custodian. It was not until just before her death that anyone knew the Blessed Virgin Mother had served the convent so that Beatrix might receive the gift of mercy.


Anonymous said...

I am trying to find the movie that was made about this story. I saw it many, many years ago (probably around 1962-70, somewhere around there). It seemed like an old movie even then. I don't know the actual name, but I really want to find the movie. Can you help? My email address is

Thank you so much.

P.S. This is in reference to the March 28, 2005 story about the Keeper of the Keys - the legend of Beatrix and the Virgin Mary

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I'll see what I can do! I tried to send a note to your email address, so it bounced back. If you stop by here again, please know that I did see your comment and I will try to find that title for you.

diana said...

Oh my, What an awesome story!