What Is the Plot in the Story of “Our Lady’s Juggler” by Anatole France?

The plot of “Our Lady’s Juggler,” also known as “Le Jongleur de Notre Dame” and “The Juggler of Notre Dame,” concerns a street juggler who converted to monkhood. Having no other gift to give, he performs before a statue of the Virgin Mary. Other monks accuse him of blasphemy until the statue awakens, descends from the altar and blesses the juggler.

The beginning of the story describes the hard life of a juggler who wanders from town to town, often hungry and exposed to the elements. He meets a monk who assures him that a monk’s calling is the greatest in the world. The juggler becomes a monk, but soon, he becomes despondent, as he feels he does not have the skills necessary to properly worship the Virgin Mary. The juggler’s sorrow deepens until he wakes up one morning and joyously goes into the chapel alone and stays for more than one hour. Each day, the juggler spends time alone in the chapel and emerges refreshed. One day, the prior of the monastery and two brothers enter the chapel to see what the juggler is doing, and they catch him juggling before the statue. Though at first they think it is sacrilege, when they realize he is being blessed, they bow down to the floor.

“Le Jongleur de Notre Dame” was first published in 1892. In 1921, Anatole France received the Nobel Prize for literature.