enry Suso was born in Switzerland about 1296, entering the Dominican monastery at fifteen. Five years later, after much guilt and excessive asceticism (including inscribing Jesus' name over his heart upon his flesh with his writing stylus), he was 'converted', giving his heart to the love of Eternal Wisdom. He worked with Meister Eckhart at Cologne after 1320 and wrote the Book of Divine Truth in defense of Eckhart's teachings. Suso was then himself forbidden to teach, though he continued to write, and he wandered about, in close contact with John Tauler , Henry of Nordlingen and other 'Friends of God'. Elsbeth Stägel, a Dominican nun at Töss, wrote his Life and received assistance from him as the 'Servant' on interpreting Eckhart's writings.
Einsiedeln, Cod. 710 (322), fol. 89, Henry Suso and Elsbeth Stagel sheltering under cloak of Sapientia
A thread on the Medieval Religion List was a query about a Carol sung each Christmas in Germany, said in its legend to have been sung by the Angels when they danced with Henry Suso.
The Horologium Sapientiae ('Clock of Wisdom', the 'Computer of Wisdom'), was written in 1339. Henry Suso died at Ulm, 1366. Immensely popular throughout Europe this work was translated into other languages.
Henry Suso's Horologium Sapientiae, in British Library, Add. 37,790, fols. 135v-136v, presents part of Chapter Four's dialogue between Wisdom and the Disciple. British Library, Add. 37,790, the Amherst Manuscript, also contains Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love, Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls, Jan van Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone , and works by Richard Rolle , Walter Hilton and Birgitta of Sweden . It may have been copied out by Richard Misyn himself for the recluse Margaret Heslyngton, and these earlier layers of the manuscript could have even been written as early as circa 1413, and represent Julian's own contemplative library. You may be reading what she once read.
Both Henry Suso and Richard Rolle stress Jesus ' name, Suso inscribing it upon his own flesh over his heart with his writing stylus, Rolle wearing it as an embroidered badge upon his hermit's garb, Charles de Foucauld as a hermit using a similar practice in our own century. Women were more likely to centre such a concept upon the heart of Jesus, as did Mecthild of Hackeborn, whose Book of Ghostly Grace in British Library, Egerton 2006, is copied out by the same scribe as that of this Amherst Manuscript, and as did Julian of Norwich herself
The concluding reference in this text to the Desert Father Arsenius is also to be found in the booklet 'Colections '. Manuscripts of this text by Henry Suso are sometimes illuminated with Henry Suso, who was Swiss, and his translator together gazing upon the medieval form of a computer, an elaborate Swiss clock, presented to us by the figure of God as female Wisdom. The rubrication here follows that in the Amherst Manuscript.
A hard copy booklet of this text giving the Middle
English with its thorns and yochs in parallel text with the
modern translation, may be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org
A Brief Formula for the Spiritual Life:
N the fellowship of saints
which as the morning stars
shone in the dark night of this world and as the sun and moon
shed forth the beams of their clear knowledge you shall find some who
surpassingly were perfectly grounded not only in active life and virtue but
also in contemplation, of whose teaching and example you may take
the most perfect doctrine and love of true spiritual life. And nevertheless I
willingly and condescendingly to your youth and inexperience shall give you
some principles of spiritual living for a memory to have always
at hand to set you in the right working if you desire
to have the perfection of spiritual life that is to be desired by all men
and if you will and desire to take it up manfully you shall first
withdraw from ill fellowship and harmful company of all men who would
hinder you from your good purpose, seeking always opportunity when and what
time you may retire and there take privy silence for contemplation
and flee from the perils and turbulance of this harmful world. Always it
belongs to you first to study to have cleanness of heart, that is to say
that you keep your sensory perceptions turned into yourself and there you have as much as is
possible the doors of your heart busily closed from the
forms of outward things
and images of earthly things. Truly
among all other spiritual exercises cleanness of heart has the sovereignty,
as a final intent and reward of all the travails that a chosen knight of Christ is to receive.
Also you must lessen your affections from all your business about all the things that might
hinder your freedom from such a thing that in any manner has might and power to bind and
draw down your affection to it. As it is written in Moses' Law, 'Remain living in your own
dwelling and do not go out your door on the day of the Sabbath. Every man shall live by himself and
no man go out through the door of his house upon the Sabbath day'. This is as much as to say
that for a man to dwell with himself is to gather all the various
thoughts and affections of his heart and have them knit together into
one true and sovereign good, that is God. And to keep the Sabbath is
to have your heart free and unburdened from all fleshly affections that might
defoul the soul and from all worldly cares and business that might distress
it and so rest sweetly in peace of heart as in the haven of silence and
the love and feeling of his Creator God. Above all other things, let
this be your principal intent and business, that you always have your soul
and your mind lifted up to contemplation of heavenly things, so that
frail earthly things be left, to be continually drawn up to
the things that are above and what thing so ever it be that is different
from this, though it seem great in itself as chastising of the body, fasting,
vigils, and such like exercises of virtue, they shall be taken
and considered as secondary and less worthy and only so much expedient
and profitable as they profit and help to cleanness of heart. And there
fore it is that so few go on to perfection for they waste their time and their
strength in mean things that are not greatly profitable and the due
remedies they leave and discard. But if you desire to know the
right way to fulfil your intent you shall sovereignly desire
to continual cleanness of heart and rest of spirit and tranquillity and
to have your heart lastingly lifted up to God.
Disciple: Who is he who in this mortal body may always be knit to
that spiritual contemplation?
Wisdom: There may be no
deadly manner always fasten and
set into this contemplation but from this cause, as said earlier,
that you may know. Where you shall fasten and solemnly set the
intention of the spirit and to what mark you shall always draw
the beholding of your soul when at that time the mind may
get them he will be glad and when he is distracted and drawn
away then he is sorry and sighs often as he feels himself
separated from that beholding. But if by chance you will ever turn against
me and say that you may not long abide and dwell in one's man's state
you shall know and understand that the power of God may do
and work more than any man may think. Therefore it falls
often that that thing that a man binds him to at the beginning
with a manner of violence and difficulty, afterwards he shall
P. Odo Lang O.S.B., Librarian, Einsiedeln Abbey, which owns major Suso manuscript, Cod. 710 (322), also major Mechtild von Magdebourg manuscript
Liliane Géraud, Zürich
See also Amherst Manuscript
Indices to Umiltà Website's Essays on Julian:
Influences on Julian
Her Manuscript Texts ♫ with recorded readings of them
About Her Manuscript Texts
After Julian, Her Editors
Julian in our Day
Publications related to Julian:
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
To see an example of a page inside with parallel text in Middle English and Modern English, variants and explanatory notes, click here. Index to this book at http://www.umilta.net/julsismelindex.html
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
London; Darton, Longman and Todd, 2003. Amazon
ISBN 0-8146-5169-0/ ISBN 023252503X. xxxiv + 133 pp. Index.
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 Spiritualität
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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