Dame Bridget More, O.S.B.
ame Margaret Gascoigne, OSB, an exiled English Benedictine nun at Cambrai in Flanders, died there in 1637, hers being the first grave within the shadow of their monastic house.(1) Before that date she had compiled a contemplative anthology of her devotions. In its Chapter Forty-Two, she had copied out a fragment from a medieval Julian exemplar likely present at Cambrai, and commented upon its text. She misreads, or only partially reads, the text, believing that Julian dies, rather than lives, following her death-bed vision of 1373. Nevertheless she responds appropriately to her reading, taking Julian's experiencing of God's presence into her own intense life of monastic prayer. In so doing she is part of a Benedictine continuity of contemplation, a continuity that transcends time and gender, caring only that the soul be oned with God in eternity that equally included women with men, to be attained in a community where all are vowed to conversion from worldliness, to stability and to obedience.
Dame Margaret Gascoigne's book of devotions would likely have been found in her cell at her death and was treasured by her Benedictine Sisters who particularly made copies of it when the Cambrai daughter house was founded at Paris. The copy that survives, called by Placid Spearitt, OSB, 'Gascoigne B', was most carefully made by Dame Bridget More, OSB, descendant of Thomas More, sister of the foundress of the Cambrai Our Lady of Consolation, Dame Gertrude More, OSB, and herself first Prioress of the Paris Our Lady of Good Hope. Another of their relatives was Dame Agnes More, again a descendant of Thomas More, who wrote a treatise influenced by Julian of Norwich, titled The Building of Divine Love. While Dame Clementia Cary, OSB, was the Foundress of the Paris house; being the daughter of Viscount Falkland, Viceroy in Ireland, she had contacts with Caroline royalty, especially Queen Henrietta Maria, and she brought with her into community her father's chaplain, Serenus Cressy, OSB, who would publish the first edition of Julian of Norwich's Showings in 1670.(2) Dame Margaret Gascoigne had been sister to Dame Catherine Gascoigne, OSB, who was elected first Abbess of Our Lady of Consolation in Cambrai in 1629, both coming from Yorkshire, their niece, Dame Justina Gascoigne, succeeding Dame Bridget More as Prioress at Our Lady of Good Hope in Paris in 1665.
The party of English women had settled in Cambrai in 1623, and within six months they had petitioned the President of the English Congregation to send them a monk qualified to train them in Benedictine contemplative prayer. In answer, they were joined in 1624 by Father Augustine Baker, OSB, who became their spiritual director until his stormy removal in 1633, when he returned to Douai. He went back to England in 1638, dying there in 1641.
The Paris daughter house, founded in 1651, brought forth an intense burst of copying of all devotional books in the Cambrai library prior to that removal, the greatest number being executed by Dame Barbara Constable, who had joined the Cambrai community from Yorkshire in 1645,(3) the copied books including Dame Bridget More's manuscript of Dame Margaret Gascoigne (G), Dame Barbara Constable's fragmentary manuscript of Julian's Showings (U), and Dame Clementia Cary's complete manuscript of Julian's Showings (S1). Another complete manuscript is found with S1 and given the siglum S2. Both these manuscripts have careful annotations made in preparation for the 1670 first edition. Yet another manuscript is the most carefully prepared Stowe 42, turning the queries and NBs of S1 and S2 into carefully prepared but not quite finished shoulder notes from which Serenus Cressy's 1670 edition was to be typeset. All these manuscripts tend to give the words to Christ to Julian in larger script than they do the texts in which these are embedded.
How did Margaret Gascoigne and the Cambrai and Paris communities come by a medieval exemplar of Julian's Showings? It is possible that they acquired the exemplar for the Paris Long Text, Bibliothèque Nationale, Anglais 40 (which in their day was shut up in the Bigot collection in Rouen), but which had been copied out by Syon Abbey in exile in Flanders. They could have obtained that exemplar from Sheen Anglorum. But the manuscripts of G, U, S1 and S2 all differ from P in that they enlarge or underline Christ's words to Julian, while P rubricates them. The other possibility is that Dame Margaret Gascoigne had treasured a Julian manuscript that had remained in her family since the days of Thomas Gascoigne, Chancellor of Oxford and patron of Syon Abbey (4), and which was to engender in turn G, U, S1, S2, C1 and Serenus Cressy's published edition from C1 as C2.
These texts were read and copied in the midst of a living community of prayer and contemplation, and one that continues today at Stanbrook and at Colwich. But the Sisters had to fight with every weapon of love and obedience to preserve their manuscripts, including their manuscript of Julian of Norwich's Showings. In 1655, they were ordered by Dom Claude White, then President of the English Benedictine Congregation, to surrender their contemplative books which were perceived 'to containe poysonous, pernicious and diabolicall doctrine'. The Abbess and the Sisters prostrated themselves before Dom White, refusing, in charity, to surrender their books (one of them their exemplar manuscript of Julian's Showings ),
ought, yet I desire that
with all the might,
and powers of my soule, and with all the
affection of my harte, I could reioice
in thy infinite happines; and though
my soule be neuer so poore and in
neuer so great miseries, yet I desire
according to such abilitie as is in me
of thy gift, to ioy and reioy together with
thee, for what thou art and doest
possesse in thy immense riches,
power and glorie , and in all that
is pleasing to thee in all things, in thy
selfe and in all thy creatures, in the
riches of others, and my owne pouertie
and miserie (for to them, whom thou
art pleasing to, what thing of thine
can be displeasing.) and what is wan=
ting in me (through disabilitie) to
performe in this matter, I will re=
ioice and exullt in hart, that in all
fullnes and perfection it is supplied
and aboundeth in thee
thy self, where
I hope my selfe accordinglie in the
time which thou hast from eternitie
foreordained for it, to finde by ex=
perience such supplie and amends
for all mine and other creatures in=
sufficiencies in the matter. I farther=
more reioice in my Saluation which
I confidentlie hope in vertue of thy
most free and liberall goodnes, in the
end to obtaine at the handes of thy
mercie, and in no sorte as if I could
expect anie such matter as due
to me or merited by me, nor anie
other waies to be attained to by me,
then by thy free giuft and meere
mercie (in vertue of the grace and
deserts of my most deere Lorde
and sauiour Jesu Christ thy onlie
and most dearelie beloued sonne)
which mercies and
goodnesses of thine I
haue allreadie in various maners euen
in my owne most unworthie selfe so
greatlie and so frequentlie experienced, that
I can not, nor maie heerafter doubt there=
of, but euer maie, must, and will to the
end confidentlie hope in thesame, and
thereon onlie and wholie relie.
Since editing the above I enquired of Dame Margaret Truran about their manuscript of Augustine Baker on Dame Margaret Gascoigne and she has kindly sent the following:
The passage in Fr Baker’s Life and Death of Dame Margaret Gascoigne on Julian of Norwich runs as follows (my transcript).
"She upon Sunday at night, being the Vigil of St Laurence, in bed beginning to be distressed in body, and the next morning after being present at Mass she there fainted and was carried thence into the Infirmary where remaining to her expiration or last Agony in perfect use of her senses, she for that space spent her thoughts wholly towards God, and in preparation for death, if God should please to send it, and which she esteemed (considering how she found her state of body) would be her lot by means of the Extraordinary Indisposition & sickness she was now in. Towards the said good Preparation for Death, and to hold her the more continually and efficaciously therein, she caused one that was oft conversant & familiar with her to place (written at and underneath the Crucifix, that remained there before her, and which she regarded with her eyes during her sickness and till her death) the holy words that had sometime been spoken by God to the holy Virgin Juliana the Anchoress of Norwich, as appeareth by the Old Manuscript Book of her Revelations, and with the which words our Dame had ever formerly been much delighted: ‘Intend (or attend) to me. I am enough for thee: rejoice in me thy Saviour and in thy salvation.’ Those words, I say, remained before her eyes beneath the Crucifix till her death." Stanbrook Baker MS 19 (copy of Downside Abbey Baker MS 42), pp 46-47.Gaudium Paschale!
Sr Margaret OSB
1.'Dame Catherine Gascoigne, 1600-1676', In a Great Tradition: Tribute to Dame Laurentia McLachlan, Abbess of Stanbrook, ed., The Benedictines of Stanbrook, p. 18.
2. [Sr. Benedict], How We Began: The Monastery of Our Lady of Good Hope, St Mary's Abbey, Colwich.
3. Placid Spearitt, OSB, 'The Survival of Mediaeval Spirituality Among the Exiled English Black Monks', American Benedictine Review 25 (1974), pp. 289-293.
4.'Dame Catherine Gascoigne', In a Great Tradition, ed. Benedictines of Stanbrook, p. 4. For Thomas Gascoigne, see Julia Bolton Holloway, Saint Bride and her Book: Birgitta of Sweden's 'Revelations'; Birger Gregersson and Thomas Gascoigne, The Life of St Birgitta, ed. Julia Bolton Holloway. Thomas Gascoigne obsessively collected and annotated all items connected with St Birgitta and would have been similarly interested in her English contemporary.
5. 'Dame Catherine Gascoigne', In A Great Tradition, ed. Benedictines of Stanbrook, p. 25.
6. It is given in
the Catholic Record Society 13 (1913), and reproduced
in the hard copy booklet, along with the pencil-drawn portrait
of Dame Bridget More, OSB, the booklet also giving the
facsimile of the actual manuscript text of H18.
Since the original writing of this
essay in my Anglican convent, the Revd Dr John Clark has been
editing all of Dom Augustine Baker, OSB's writings, and these
are published by Professor James Hogg in his University of
Salzburg Analecta Carthusiana series. Their titles may be
retrieved at http://www.florin.ms/libbeth.html
Ordering information is given at http://www.umilta.net/shop.html
Fr Augustine Baker OSB. Alphabet and
Order. Ed. John Clark. Institut für Anglistik und
Amerikanistik, Universität Salzburg, 2001. James Hogg,
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. St Benedict's Rule. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.24, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2005. 3 vols. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Collections I-III and The Twelve Mortifications of Harphius. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.21, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2004. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book D. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.11, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book F. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.12, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book G. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.13, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2000. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Directions for Contemplation. Book H. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.14, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2000. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Discretion. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.9, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Doubts and Calls. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.102, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1998. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr Augustine Baker OSB. Five Treatises: The Life and Death of Dame Margaret Gascoigne; Treatise of Confession. Analecta Cartusiana 119.23, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2006. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. A Secure Stay in all Temptations. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.8, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1999. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Secretum. Introduction and Notes, John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.20, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2003. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Secretum. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.7, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 1997. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. A Spiritual Treatise . . . Called A.B.C. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.17, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2001. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
Fr. Augustine Baker OSB. Vox Clamantis in Deserto Animae. Ed. John Clark. Analecta Cartusiana 119.22, ed. James Hogg. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2004. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
That Mysterious Man: Essays on
Augustine Baker OSB 1575-1641. Ed. Michael Woodward. Introduced
Rowan Williams. Analecta Cartusiana 119.15, ed. James Hogg.
Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Universität Salzburg, 2001. James Hogg, Salzburg, 2006.
MARGARET GASCOIGNE, DAME BRIDGET MORE
BARBARA CONSTABLE, UPHOLLAND MANUSCRIPT
MAZARINE 1202, I AND III
SPIRITUAL LETTERS OF ARCHBISHOP FÉNELON TO MADAME GUYON, MAZARINE 1202, IIA
SPIRITUAL LETTERS OF ARCHBISHOP FÉNELON TO MADAME GUYON, MAZARINE 1202, IIB
MORE'S DEFENSE OF FATHER AUGUSTINE'S WAY OF PRAYER,
'COLECTIUONS, MAZARINE 1202
Saint Bride and Her Book: Birgitta of Sweden's Revelations Translated from Latin and Middle English with Introduction, Notes and Interpretative Essay. Focus Library of Medieval Women. Series Editor, Jane Chance. xv + 164 pp. Revised, republished, Boydell and Brewer, 1997. Republished, Boydell and Brewer, 2000. ISBN 0-941051-18-8
Norwich. Showing of Love: Extant Texts and Translation. Edited.
Sister Anna Maria Reynolds, C.P. and Julia Bolton
Holloway. Florence: SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo (Click
on British flag, enter 'Julian of Norwich' in search
box), 2001. Biblioteche e
Archivi 8. XIV + 848 pp. ISBN 88-8450-095-8.
To see inside this book, where God's words are in red, Julian's in black, her editor's in grey, click here.
Norwich. Showing of Love. Translated, Julia Bolton
Holloway. Collegeville: Liturgical Press;
London; Darton, Longman and Todd, 2003. Amazon
ISBN 0-8146-5169-0/ ISBN 023252503X. xxxiv + 133 pp.
To view sample copies,
actual size, click here.
'Colections' by an English Nun in Exile: Bibliothèque Mazarine 1202. Ed. Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit of the Holy Family. Analecta Cartusiana 119:26. Eds. James Hogg, Alain Girard, Daniel Le Blévec. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2006.
Anchoress and Cardinal: Julian
of Norwich and Adam Easton OSB. Analecta Cartusiana 35:20
Heute und Gestern. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und
Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2008. ISBN
978-3-902649-01-0. ix + 399 pp. Index. Plates.
Teresa Morris. Julian of Norwich: A
Comprehensive Bibliography and Handbook.
Preface, Julia Bolton Holloway. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen
Press, 2010. x + 310 pp. ISBN-13:
978-0-7734-3678-7; ISBN-10: 0-7734-3678-2. Maps. Index.
Pelphrey. Lo, How I Love Thee: Divine Love in
Julian of Norwich. Ed. Julia Bolton Holloway. Amazon,
2013. ISBN 978-1470198299
the Books: Julian of Norwich's Theological Library.
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge
Scholars Publishing, 2016. xxi + 328 pp. VII Plates,
59 Figures. ISBN (10): 1-4438-8894-X, ISBN (13)
Mary's Dowry; An Anthology of
Pilgrim and Contemplative Writings/ La Dote di
Testi di Pellegrine e Contemplativi.
Traduzione di Gabriella Del Lungo
Camiciotto. Testo a fronte, inglese/italiano.
Analecta Cartusiana 35:21 Spiritualität Heute und
Gestern. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und
Amerikanistik Universität Salzburg, 2017. ISBN
978-3-903185-07-4. ix + 484 pp.
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