Return to the Tours Cathedral index page
Panel B5 - The boy is hanged from a gibbet but saved by St James
The father and son argue over which of them should be hanged for the crime of which both are innocent. Eventually the boy prevails and is hanged - but thanks to the miraculous intervention of the saint whose shrine they were on the way to visit, the boy remains unharmed by his experience. In some versions of the story, his body remains unharmed on the gibbet for some weeks, joyfully greeting his father on the latter's return from completing their pilgrimage.

Stories in which saints protect those who are on pilgrimage to visit their shrines are extremely common, particularly from the 13th and 14th centuries. They became a topos of medieval hagiography whose attraction to those about to undertake a long and potentially hazardous pilgrimage is obvious.

The detail of the boy's hanging (from a gibbet supported by a forked branch at both ends, blindfolded, hands tied behind his back) are very similar to the execution of Pharaoh's baker in depictions of Genesis 40, such as were found in Parisian court-circle manuscripts like the 'Toledo' Bible Moraliseé and the St Louis Psalter, or in the Joseph window at Poitiers.