The book “Christ Legends and other stories” starts with the only realistic short story in the whole book that is named “Holy night”. The story starts with a storyteller in the first person and the author opens up with her memory of her grandmother that died when she was 5. The grandma used to tell her stories and one of them was carved into the memory of the author. That is the reason why Selma wanted to share this beautiful story with everyone.
Genre: book of short stories
Time: around the birth of Jesus
Place: Jerusalem, Egypt, Nazareth, Rome
The story starts with a man that went looking for fire from house to house on a dark night. He did it because his wife gave birth to a child and they needed to keep the child warm. The problem was that nobody opened up the door because it was late and everyone was sound asleep.
He was walking for quite a while and he was a light in the fields. He thought that it could be fire. AS he was approaching the light he realized it really was fire. In the field there was a shepherd looking after his sheep. The shepherd wasn’t a kind and good man, he was the opposite of that. He was grumpy and mean towards everyone.
The man that was looking for fire got attacked by the shepherds dogs but he couldn’t feel their bites. After that the shepherd attacked him with his stick but it moved aside on its own. The shepherd looked at it curiously and didn’t want to have anything to do with the man so he decided to please him and give him fire. But when he look at the fire there was nothing but ashes and embers.
The man took the embers and placed it into his raincoat. The shepherd was surprised by a night were dogs bites don’t hurt, fire doesn’t burn and sticks can’t kill.
The shepherd decided to follow the man to see what is going to happen next. When they arrivedto the place where the man lived the shepherd only saw the walls of a cave. A woman and a newborn child were lying there. The shepherd felt sorry for the child so he gave him fleece to keep him warm.
When he gave it to the child his eyes opened wide and he saw many angles around him. They were celebrating the Savior who will free the world from all sins. The shepherd was awed by everything and he fell down on his knees praying and praising God.
The Emperors Vision
This is another short story. It is based on a story about beginnings of Christianity. It was the time when Augustus was the emperor of Tome.
The senators suggested to him that he should buildup a temple on the Holy roman hill and Augustus wanted to confirm that decision with a sacrifice.
When they arrived up there they saw Sybil, a prophet. She was occupied with a vision that she had about the birth of Jesus Christ. Augustus realized that God was born.
He decided that they should pray to him on a hill. Instead of a temple he decided to build a sanctuary for the newborn child. He will call it The heavenly altar – Ara Coeli.
The Wise Men’s Well
This is the third short story. Draught, which is shown as a character, walks around Judea. She came to the well and wanted to dry it out. She encountered three horseman and wanted to tell them the story of the well. Three wise man used to live and they were very poor. In one holy night they saw a shining star and they concluded that a powerful king was born. They were hoping that the childs father was rich and that he will reward them for telling him this news.
The star led them to a cave where they saw a little child. When they came there they were sure that the cave wasn’t the right place and decided to go back but the star was gone.
Soon after that they realized that what they did was a sin towards God so they wanted to go back to the cave the only problem was that without the star they couldn’t go back. They were wandering around, not being able to find the cave. When they came close to the well they saw a star in its depth that helped them get back to the cave.
God decided to reward them. The old beggar became young, the sick man became healthy and the black man became beautiful.
When the travelers asked Drought did they repaid the well for helping them she ran away because she realized that she was talking to the wise man. She did not want to look at the wise man putting water on their camels and filling the well of life with holy water.
This is the fourth story of the book and it is about the childhood of Jesus. He was able to do amazing things since his youngest days. He caught bees just to help them get back to their hive and he protected flowers from getting destroyed because of rain.
Nearby a soldier was keeping guard when a little boy came along. He suddenly remembered of a prophecy that stated that there will be a thousand years old peace. The soldier wasn’t pleased with that because then he wouldn’t be necessary. The more he looked at the boy the more he thought about the prophecy.
One day sun was burning hot and the temperature was unbearable. The soldier was very hot in his shield and thought that his brain will fall apart from the heat. The boy noticed that the soldier was struggling so he gave him a few drops of water to fresh himself up. The soldier felt as if the boy gave him a lot of water. Even though the boy helped him the soldier didn’t even say thanks.
In the meantime kind Herod decided to kill all of the male children. He was afraid that a prophecy came true and that a new king was born who will start his own kingdom. He called all of the mothers and childs to his castle and then let his soldiers kill them all. Mary managed to save herself even though the ungrateful soldier was next to her. He would not spare their lives but a bee appeared and stung him in the eye.
He did not want to give up and he went after them hoping that he will be promoted if he caught them. But every time he got near them they ran away. Once he managed to find them while they were sleeping in a cave. At the moment he wanted to stab the child a bee appeared and started flying around his head. The soldier remembered how the boy saved him from heat and he started thinking about it. He was fighting with himself until he didn’t kneel in front of the child and kissed his feet.
The Flight into Egypt
This is the fifth short story that is about an old, high palm. The palm was destined to grow as long as Judea does not receive a king that is greater than Salomon.
The palm felt that death was near and that people walking through desert will sure die. At that moment a boy went to get some dates for his parents to eat. He ordered the palm to bend down so he could get it and then she realized that it was her time to die because a king has arrived.
In the Temple
This is the sixth and the last short story of the book. It describes the arrival of the 12 years old Jesus into the Temple and the motives of his arrival. His parents, Mary and Joseph, were afraid that Jesus will want to stay forever in the Temple and that he will like it there. Above all, he was predestined to do that.
Jesus forgot all of the miracles he did until he was five years old because after that he lived like all of the other children. Despite everything, he was not amazed by the Temple.
He was only interested in a trumpet called “The voice of the world leaders”. The person that manages to get all of the people under his wing will be able to make a sound with the trumpet. Then he was amazed by a blade that was old and rusty. It was placed over the heavenly bridge that led to Paradise. There were also two poles and only the righteous people could walk in between them.
The next day Jesus decided to visit the Temple before he went to Nazareth. He did not want to show off his power because he wasn’t aware of it. He only wanted to offer help to ones in need. Jesus manages to do everything that he was amazed with. He made a sound with the trumper, went over the bridge and walked between the poles.
Mary and Joseph went looking for him and they found him with the wise men who were questioning him. Mary started crying. She was aware that from now on he was lost for her. His life was pointed towards justice and from that day on he shared his love with the ones less fortunate. This was the key moment of his childhood because that is when it ended.
Characters: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, soldier, Emperor Augustus
Selma Lagerlof Biography
Selma Lagerlof with the real name Selam Ottiliana Lovisa (1858. – 1940.) is an admired Swedish writer.
She is known for using the motives and characters from Sweden in her work and she also looked for inspiration in the life of north Italy, Palestine and the modern socialism.
Between her many work we should mention: “The wonderful adventures of Nils” where she described the adventures of a boy flying on a gees back and exploring his country, then “Gosta Berling” and the most famous book “Christ legends and other stories”.
She was the first female to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1909. She was considered to be one of the original Swedish and European writers. She died in 1940.