What Is a Summary of “Our Lady’s Juggler” by Anatole France?

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“Our Lady’s Juggler” is the story of Barnaby, who gave up his juggling trade to become a monk but was saddened by his inability to contribute to the artistic and literary life of the monastery. Barnaby decided to offer his juggling talent to Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, and her statue came to life for him. The story is a short parable recommending the virtues of humble simplicity.

Life as a juggler was difficult for Barnaby, as he traveled from town to town in France. Barnaby is described as a humble man of God, who suffers cold weather and other problems with patience and gratitude for what he has.

One day, Barnaby met a monk, who explained to him that the monastic life was devoted entirely to praise of God and Our Lady. Barnaby told the monk that he would gladly forsake his juggling trade for this life of devotion. The monk was touched by Barnaby’s simple faith and allowed him to join the monastery.

Barnaby was soon discouraged, however, feeling he had very little to offer compared to the other monks. They had so many gifts and used these to glorify their God. Barnaby did not know what he could do until he heard a monk relate a tale of a man who knew no prayers but the Ave Maria, or Hail Mary. Upon the man’s death, roses came out of his mouth, a miraculous sign of heavenly approval of his humble devotion.

Some time later, the other monks went to the chapel and found Barnaby performing his juggling act in front of Our Lady’s statue. They were angry, until they saw Our Lady’s statue come to life and wipe the sweat from Barnaby’s brow. The monks at once recognized that the simple-hearted were blessed with a unique gift, allowing them to come close to God.