Religious miracle stories were almost a cottage industry in medieval times. The easiest way to create a “tourist trap” for people on religious pilgrimages was to manufacture a miracle tale about a nondescript out of the way chapel, spread the story around, and wait for the place to draw visitors. That’s the cynical view at least; the gentler interpretation would be to acknowledge that religion played a central role in the lives of many during the Middle Ages, and it’s quite possible that many people would choose to interpret an uncommon, though explainable, event as a “miracle” given the tenor of the times.

Either way, there’s no shortage of medieval miracle tales. They tend to follow a small number of predictable patterns, and it’s quite easy for people in modern times to write a pastiche of such tales. Miracle tales have become part and parcel of holiday TV fare; in pre-television days you’d frequently find these stories in holiday books for children.

Here’s one such tale from Dell Comic’s 1943 edition of Santa Claus Funnies. Does this tale have a medieval basis, is it of later origin, or is it a modern pastiche? I’ve been unable to find out, but does it really matter? It’s an entertaining little holiday story with a moral: it’s not the price of the gift that’s important, but rather the spirit in which it’s given.

As always, right-click a pic and open it in a new tab for a larger view.

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

The Christmas Chimes – Santa Claus Funnies #2, 1943

Page scans from our friends at The Digital Comic Museum.

Have fun! — Steve

Copyright 2012, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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