Words of Past Experience

Two Sonnets on Incarnation

By Veronica Gambara (1485-1550) - Correggio, Duchy of Modena and Reggio, Italian Peninsula



The following text is taken from pages 63 and 64 of Women Writers of the Renaissance and Reformation, edited by Katharina M. Wilson and published in 1987 by University of Georgia Press.



Sonnet 28


O great mystery, only through faith understood!

Your beautiful body is made the temple of God,

Sacred Virgin, and in that humble and pious

being lives virtue descended from heaven.


He burned so brightly in your humility,

which He wanted so much to save, that He

closed Himself in you, and from you He issued,

without touching or offending the virginal cloister.


He created Himself in you, as in the white fleece

the heavenly dew; the parched earth

He alone replenished with water.


This the effect was, that was the sign;

thus we sing with you today, declaring

Glory to God, who is never fully praised.



Sonnet 29


Today through you, Virgin pure,

there is revealed on earth such a miracle

that Nature falls, astonished, and wonders

at your marvelous handiwork.


God is made man, and under human care,

dressed in irksome mortal flesh,

remains what he was, his divinity

hidden in an infant's form.


Of mixed nature he was not, nor ever divided,

but always God and always veritable man,

as powerful on earth as in Heaven.


Then turn toward me, O Virgin, the rays

of your grace, that I may understand

this high and profound mystery.