The Black Saint Rosambuco

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The comedy of El santo negro Rosambuco de la ciudad de Palermo appeared published in the third part of the comedies of Lope de Vega and other authors, in the year 1612, in Seville.
It is possible that it is a commissioned comedy, or that Lope had heard of such a peculiar saint and had decided to write the work from a text unknown to us. The first biography that appears of the saint is from 1611, this source is the one written by Fray Antonio Daza.
Benedetto, the name by which the saint was baptized, was born in Sicily, more specifically in San Filadelfo in 1524. He was the son of black slaves, Christopher and Diana Menasseri, who were very religious. St. Benedict is remembered because he resurrected a child and restored sight to two blind men, in addition to healing various diseases.
In the comedy El santo negro Rosambuco de la ciudad de Palermo by Lope de Vega we see the hagiographic tradition reflected. The character he represents is Saint Benedict, a man whose main virtues are innocence, humility and obedience. Moreover, this character is black. In the Golden Age, black slaves belonged to a lower stratum of society. In the golden theater they could appear stereotyped in a negative way or on the contrary be praised.
This comedy is an attempt by Lope de Vega to dignify the black character, since it overcomes a series of clichés of the literary tradition. The playwright attributes to the protagonist qualities that are far from the clichés of the black slave.

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