Composers and their stage works 

Devotion to the Cross

(La devoción de la cruz)

Pedro Calderón de la Barca

A Comedia de santos wr. ca. 1633)

Eusebio loves Julia but is prevented from marrying her because of his low birth. When he persists in courting her, Eusebio is challenged to a duel by her brother Lisardo. Eusebio explains that though he was an abandoned child who was found at the foot of a cross, the symbol of which he bears in his flesh, his devotion to the Cross has several times caused his life to be miraculously saved. He therefore considers that he has acquired nobility. Lisardo, however, insists on a duel and is mortally wounded. Eusebio secretly visits Julia but is forced to hide when her father Curcio enters. The latter berates Julia for her behaviour, comparing it to that of her mother, who after he struck her in a jealous rage gave birth to her and to a now-lost brother at the foot of a cross.

Lisardo's body is brought in, and Julia, learning that Eusebio killed her brother, sends her lover away in despair. She is forced by Curcio to enter a convent; Eusebio becomes a bandit. One day he saves the life of a priest, who promises in return to come and confess him when he is dying. Unable to forget Julia, Eusebio breaks into her convent, intending to rape her. When, however, he sees the sign of the Cross on her breast, he flees in horror. Julia now resolves to follow him, and disguising herself as a man joins the bandits. Eusebio pleads with her to return to the convent. Eventually, Curcio tracks down Eusebio and mortally wounds him. As Eusebio dies, Curcio sees the cross on his breast and realises that this is his long-lost son.

True to his promise, the priest arrives to confess Eusebio, who miraculously returns to life long enough to be shriven. Learning that Eusebio is her brother, Julia despairingly confesses her sins. When Curcio raises his arm to strike her, she takes refuge at the foot of the cross near Eusebio's grave. She and the cross are miraculously lifted to heaven.