Are there any legends about the widow’s mite in medieval hagiography?

An interesting letter from a correspondent:

… We are working on a hagiographic project to uncover and develop the story of the poor widow who offered her two coins in Mark 12 and Luke 21. We have been exploring numerous Eastern Orthodox channels and so far have found no evidence of any preexisting tradition or story around her.  To be clear, we are looking for any information about any extant tradition around the poor widow in the story; for example if there are any traditions that give her a name or more context beyond scripture…

This refers to Mark 12: 41-44:

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

The catena aurea here has some comments on the passage from Bede, Theophylact, etc; these I obtained by getting the Vulgate text and doing a google search on some of the Latin words.  But all that gives me mostly is bible stuff.

Does anybody know of a medieval legend about the widow?


6 thoughts on “Are there any legends about the widow’s mite in medieval hagiography?

  1. I don’t see any. But Aelfric points out that she got heaven for the price of one farthing.

    Ambrose connects her “duo aera” to the Good Samaritan’s “duo aera” left with the innkeeper, which I think is a nice connection.

  2. The widow is seen as a figure of the Church, of Mary in her widowhood, and of Christ giving all His life.

    Oh, and Ambrose also connects the duo aera to the two Testaments of the Bible.

    But yeah, I don’t see her having any backstory or later deeds in Western hagiography.

    A lot of that stuff in Eastern hagiography seems to be based on stuff like Papias or other early “memories” of Christian history.

  3. Apparently in Cranmer’s second Kalendar, he wanted a saint commemoration on February 10 for the poor widow of the Gospels.

  4. Here’s a collection of commentaries on the related verses:

    They include the “catena aurea”, but also quite a bit more. However, I see no references to legends/traditions on the identity of the poor widow among them. I’ll dig in a bit more and see if I can uncover something, I’m curious as well now!

    In an unrelated but semi-related topic, I recently dug into the Eastern Orthodox legend regarding the Simeon of Luke 2 and the Septuagint translation – that was quite the ride to dig into:

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