Type of vernacular drama performed in the Middle Ages, presenting a real or fictitious account of the life, miracles, or martyrdom of a saint. The genre evolved from the liturgical dramas of the 10th–11th centuries, which were intended to enhance church calendar festivals. By the 13th century the plays were separated from church services and performed at public festivals by members of craft guilds and other amateur actors. Most miracle plays concerned either the Virgin Mary or St. Nicholas, both of whom had active cults in the Middle Ages. See also morality play; mystery play.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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