artin Buber (1878-1965), as a young man, assembled contemplative writings into a most beautiful anthology he published in 1909 that he called Ekstatische Konfessionem, Ecstatic Conversations. Into it he poured the spirituality of Hassidic Jews, of Sufi, of the Friends of God, of Julian of Norwich. For in contemplation all religions become one, or, as Julian says in her Middle English 'oned', rather than 'noughting', cancelling each other out, the stuff of wars. Yet, as we study these contemplatives (not choosing the word 'mystic', too aloof from us), we shall find there is a division. The Torah and the Gospel are rooted and grounded in earth and clay, in flesh and blood reality, in the beginning the Word creating all, then becoming flesh and blood, dwelling in our midst, the Incarnation, theology being the love of God and equally of our neighbour. Pseudo-Dionysius (Thomas Aquinas cited him over a thousand times believing he was the Dionysius the Areopagite of Acts), instead, was a Neoplatonist Syrian, who spoke of the 'dark cloud of unknowing' in which God is to be found, as if attaining the Buddhist Nirvana, Pseudo-Dionysius even inventing the word 'hierarchy'. We shall find the Cloud Author, who translated and put Pseudo-Dionysius' negative theology into practice in his contemplative treatises, to be resisted by the likes of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. The struggle is between elitist Plato and democratic Christ; between philosophy and its gender apartheid on the one hand, the Gospel and its inclusion of women on the other. That paradoxical dialectic caused a springtime in the Christian theology of prayer, a rich flowering and harvesting, down the centuries.

The ecstatic conversation amongst these contemplatives transcends space and time and gender and order, in dialogue between Augustinians, Benedictines, Brigittines, Carmelites, Carthusians, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Hieronymites and lay people.The contemplative theology they conveyed was not the trauma of 'shock and awe', the sterile and paralysing apartheid of power, but instead the serotonin-enhancing awareness of the humility of the creature in the presence of the greatness, mercy and love, the might, wisdom and love, of the Creator. Amongst them illiterate women such as Umilt of Faenza, Angela of Foligno, Catherine of Siena, and Margery Kempe could participate equally, dictating their theology to nuns and priests become their disciples, St Catherine even being proclaimed Doctor of the Church and then, with St Birgitta, Patron of Europe. Judaism and the Gospel celebrated littleness, the smallest Hebrew letter, yod, that beginning the names of God, Jesus and Jerusalem, and meaning hand, another letter, kaph, meaning the palm of the hand, while God is born ignominiously as a baby in poverty in a stable in Bethlehem, dying on a gallows cross as a common criminal. Not only does it involve composing with words, but also their being written into books, such books being inscribed first on parchment, then on paper, first as manuscript, then in print, and bound between covers. The Beguines and the daughters of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding will support themselves by binding such books. It is a tangible concrete linguistic theology where letters are things and also numbers, God creating the world with the Word, in number, weight and measure, 'Amen' being that which is said, which therefore is. It is opposed, as Augustine found, leading to his conversion, to Greek Neoplatonism's abstractions and hierarchies.

We shall find Aelred of Rievaulx, the Ancrene Wisse Author, Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and the Cloud of Unknowing Author, writing to anchoresses, generally using Pseudo-Dionysius, while the women to whom they write have the example of Scholastica's 'holy disobedience' to her twin brother Benedict, the resulting dialogue of bass and treble voices permitting 'ecstatic conversations'. One such 'ecstatic conversation' is that between Saints Augustine and Monica, another, between Richard Rolle and Margaret Kirkby, another, between Henry Suso and Elsbeth Stgel. In the withdrawal from the world, the stripping away of external things, in these holy conversations, God is found - and shared. This 'cell of self knowledge and of God' was medieval psychiatry, was the soul-healing, rather than killing, was the Gospel, the 'Good News', that gave happiness. In the Gospels, Jesus seeks times of solitude and prayer, then returns to the world to carry out healing. He himself prayed the Psalms and the prophets, such as Isaiah. He taught the Lord's Prayer, which so echoes the Virgin's Magnificat, again bass and treble voices, of gender inclusion. When I was a novice I was told that his 'greatest gifts, apart from himself, are the Psalter and the Lord's Prayer'. Monasteries and anchorholds, for men and for women, created structures for that withdrawal for prayer, but with the concommittant responsibility for the healing of the souls, minds and bodies of all people of all walks of life.

We see, for instance, the illiterate lay woman, Margery Kempe, having read to her contemplative materials concerning Marie d'Oignies, Richard Rolle and Birgitta of Sweden. When the printing press was introduced in England, these contemplative texts were promptly readied for wider publication, with that intent, particularly by Brigittine Syon Abbey, but at the same time came the Reformation, causing texts being readied for type-setting to be blocked, as was the case with the Westminster Manuscript of Julian's Showing of Love, or even whole editions, every single volume, as was the case with Elizabeth Barton's 'Grete Boke', and even Elizabeth Barton OSB herself, destroyed, in her case by hanging at Tyburn in 1534. Similarly, the Bishop of Cambrai had destroyed all known copies of the Beguine Marguerite Porete's Speculum Simplicium Animarium, the Mirror of Simple Souls, then she herself had been burnt at the Sorbonne in 1310. These crucial texts were seen in England as a threat to the State, allied with the Church, first as seeming to be Lollard for permitting women a theological voice, then as Catholic in opposition to the Church of England, while in France, first Jean Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, opposed these texts, particularly those by women, and then they were seen by the State and Church as partaking of the 'Quietist' heresy, finally the atheist French Revolution condemned nuns to the guillotine, seizing their contemplative 'superstitious' writings.

Our first writers followed in Christ's footsteps, both in books, in the Gospel, and in reality, on pilgrimage, re-imagining the events that had taken place at Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the Nativity, the Crucifixion. Later, cloistered women were discouraged from those pilgrimages, only the lay Birgitta of Sweden and Margery Kempe being able to do so, the others imaging them in their cells. We shall find images of pilgrims in Christina of Markyate, Walter Hilton and Augustine Baker. The Pseudo-Dionysian disciples, among them Meister Eckhart and the Cloud of Unknowing author, however, discouraged the nuns' affective imaging of Holy Land events. Convents would become, quite literally at the French Revolution, prisons. Countering their negativity, William Flete, Alfonso of Jan, Adam Easton, a Norwich Benedictine and the Cardinal who effected Birgitta's canonization, and Augustine Baker praised women's contemplative writings and laid down rules for their acceptance as prophetic where their visions led to charity, to the love of God and neighbour. These 'ecstatic conversations' on the part of hermits and anchoresses led to great joy, even laughter, as we see in Richard Rolle, John Whiterig, the Cloud of Unknowing author and Julian of Norwich.

We shall first present the contemplatives who were read in England and throughout Latin Christendom, the precursors and models for our own, Augustine with Monica, Jerome with Paula and Eustochium, Arsenius, Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysius, Benedict, Scholastica and Gregory. We shall also present the later influences upon the English contemplatives of Continental Hildegard of Bingen (influenced by Anglo-Saxon Lioba), Marguerite Porete, Angela of Foligno, Mechtild of Hackeborn, the Friends of God, Henry Suso and Jan van Ruusbroec, Birgitta of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, from texts present in English manuscripts. We lack Mechitild of Magdebourg's entry into this tradition until Lucy Menzies' fine translation of her.

In the second part of this book, our truly English contemplatives, Christina of Markyate, Richard Rolle, John Whiterig, William Flete, the Cloud of Unknowing Author, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, are presented, giving also their textual transmission in manuscripts written out by Brigittine and Benedictine nuns and recusants. Our touchstone will be the Amherst manuscript in which a Carmelite monk (perhaps Prior Richard Misyn), copies out for Margaret Heslyngton and perhaps, earlier, for a Carmelite anchoress, such as Dame Emma Stapleton, daughter of the Sir Miles Stapleton who is the executor of the Countess of Suffolk's Will leaving Julian of Norwich a legacy, magnificent contemplative texts. It contains writings by Richard Misyn, Richard Rolle, Marguerite Porete, Julian of Norwich, Jan van Ruusbroec, Henry Suso, Birgitta of Sweden, and, in another manuscript by the same scribe, Mechtild of Hackeborn.

The third section discusses English nuns in exile at the Reformation, among them first the Brigittines, then the Benedictines, Dame Margaret Gascoigne, Dame Gertrude More, Dame Catherine Gascoigne, Dame Barbara Constable, Dame Bridget More, Dame Clementia Cary, Dame Agnes More, as they carried out Father Augustine Baker's suggestions for editing and publishing in manuscript and in print the medieval contemplative texts, for treasuring these as their own monastic dowry and for sharing it with the English Mission.

We present these texts in their original languages in sequence (like James Joyce's Birth of Mrs Purefoy's Baby in the 'Oxen of the Sun' chapter to Ulysses, where we are regaled with the nine centuries of the English language, alongside the nine months' gestation of her child) so that this guide may be not only one to contemplation but also be a linguistic study through time, as is Fernand Moss's most useful Handbook of Middle English.

In an epilogue we see this tradition alive today in the writing about and editing of these texts by Evelyn Underhill and Lucy Menzies, by Father Robert Llewellyn and Revd John Clark, these both Anglican priests, in the careful editorial publishing by Catholic James Hogg of the University of Salzburg, and in the practice of Julian and Ruusbroec's spirituality by Don Divo Barsotti of Settignano, and other labourers in the vineyard. Italian has the word 'intrecciato', meaning things being linked and braided together, being Lucretius' and John Livingston Lowes' 'hooked atoms'. We shall find this here in this anthology, strands being 'Arsenius', or 'pilgrim' or 'treadling', the little white stone with one's name, or the hazelnut in the palm of one's hand, or the whole cosmos shrunk into one ray of light.

An Anglican nun, I was staying at Kilcullen, County Kildare, in Ireland, amongst Catholic nuns, one of whom explained to me that England is 'Mary's Dowry'. I had come to work with Sister Anna Maria Reynolds, C.P., the editor of the extant manuscripts of Julian of Norwich. Together we discussed the opening of the Westminster Cathedral Manuscript of Julian, in which Mary's Advent contemplation, 'O Sapientia', of her as-yet-unborn Child, is mirrored in Julian's contemplation of Mary, and which in turn is mirrored in ourselves reading Julian and thus mirroring her in ourselves and through her, the Virgin and Child. Three times in Luke Mary treasures all these things in her heart. A Carthusian monk enters his cell through an ante-room called the 'Ave Maria', because of the significance of Mary and prayer.

This e-book thus presents an anthology of the contemplative writings, those written out in England, and then in exile from England, being treasured and copied out in turn by generations, across space and time, becoming the 'English Mission' to win back Mary's lost Dowry. Its Italian edition will be presented in parallel text, both in English and in Italian.


Christmas Day, 2007

I. The Precursors

A. Helena and Constantine, Monica and Augustine, Jerome, Paula and Eustochium, Arsenius, Boethius, Dionysius the Areopagite, Benedict, Scholastica and Gregory

Helena (327) and Constantine (337)

Table of Contents


A. Helena and Constantine, Monica and Augustine, Jerome, Paula and Eustochium, Arsenius, Boethius, Dionysius the Areopagite, Benedict, Scholastica and Gregory

B. Lioba, Hildegard of Bingen, Marguerite Porete, Angela of Foligno, Mechtild of Hackeborn, Dante Alighieri, the Friends of God, Henry Suso, Jan van Ruusbroec, Birgitta of Sweden, Catherine of Siena


St Patrick's Lorica, 'The Cry of the Deer'

'The Dream of the Rood'

Christina of Markyate, Richard Rolle, John Whiterig, William Flete, Walter Hilton, the Cloud of Unknowing Author, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe


A. The Brigittines Orcherd of Syon, Mirroure of Oure Lady

B. The Benedictines: Dames Margaret Gascoigne, Gertrude More, Catherine Gascoigne, Barbara Constable, Clementia Cary, Father Augustine Baker, Serenus Cressy, OSB



A. Helena and Constantine, Monica and Augustine, Jerome, Paula and Eustochium, Arsenius, Boethius, Dionysius the Areopagite, Benedict, Scholastica and Gregory

et us begin with the Empress Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. The official account of her life speaks of her as an Eastern princess, but in Celtic Britain the legends persist that she was a Christian British slave. She became Constantius' concubine and, A.D. 274, Constantine's mother. She was repudiated by the Emperor Constantius in 292, next treated with honour by Constantine when he was proclaimed Emperor, at York, in 302. Christianity was adopted by the Empire in 312. It could well be that his mother, like African Augustine's, had much to do with Constantine's conversion to Christianity. Constantine would establish the seat of Empire not in Rome but in Byzantium, Constantinople, on the shores of the Black Sea. Orthodox art before and after its iconoclastic phase, shows the Madonna and Child dressed in imperial garb, in Roman togas. This iconography doubly refers to Mary and Jesus, Helena and Constantine, palimpsested the one on the other. Both times, when iconoclasm is overturned, it is in turn carried out similarly by Empresses, Irene in 787 and Theodora in 843, as we witness in the British Museum's icon, the 1400 'The Triumph of Orthodoxy', showing the Regent Empress Theodora with her four-year-old son the Emperor Michael presiding at the restoration of the use of icons.

Helena, now Empress, visited the Holy Places, such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Sinai, determined where their churches would be built, and she and her son officially established for Christendom the cult of the Cross. However it is likely that the present Mount Sinai is not the true Sinai of Exodus but a mountain Helena decreed by fiat as Mount Sinai and that declaration is taken on faith by pilgrims to this day. Eusebius of Caesaria (260-339), their contemporary, wrote the account of Constantine and Helena's pilgrimages and building programmes in the Holy Places. Eusebius emphasizes Constantine as undertaking the excavations on Golgotha and building the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. Later legend will have this archeology and architecture be Helena's. Eusebius affirms Helena's actions in this area in connection with the Bethlehem cave and basilica and with that on the Mount of Olives. He touchingly describes how she wished, quoting Psalm 132.7, to 'worship at the place whereon his feet have stood.' He also describes how


Reading between Eusebius' lines we see that Helena, who died at eighty in 327, preceded, with her building programme at Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives, those of Constantine in Jerusalem; Eusebius noting that Constantine's programme there is partly in memory of his mother. Thus Helena, as Christian Empress, could give to later women and men in her own third and fourth centuries and in others, a pattern centered upon poverty and power, piety and pilgrimage. She lived out those words read from Isaiah by Christ in the synagogue at Nazareth.


Monica (387) and Augustine (430)

ugustine, Aurelius Augustinus, was born in Africa in A.D. 354 at a time when the Roman Empire was crumbling. He grappled with the conflicting beliefs of that uncertain era, coming to reject Neoplatonism and Manicheanism for Christianity, being converted in a garden outside Milan through reading Paul's Epistle. And his mother's tears. He had been a Professor of Rhetoric, of Literature, he now professed Christ, the Word. Edith Stein has written a beautiful dialogue between Ambrose and Augustine in her Three Dialogues. Augustine was baptised by Ambrose in 387. Returning to Africa he became Bishop of Hippo, dying as the Vandals were besieging his beloved cathedral city. In his Confessions he writes his spiritual biography, much as Julian does in her Showing of Love. In it he explains that sin is the tending to non-being, to diverging from God's Creation. In its Book XI Augustine presents a heady discourse upon Time and Eternity, based upon Ambrose's evening hymn.


Augustine wrote those lines in his homeland, in Africa; but earlier in Milan in Italy he had met Ambrose, then was converted and baptised by him. He had next set forth to journey home with his mother Monica but in Ostia the two of them had a vision together, a vision beyond time and even music, that informs Confessions XI. The two were discussing one night the Kingdom of Heaven.

In that moment they together touched and were touched by the eternal Wisdom. Shortly thereafter Monica, saying she desired no longer to live in this world, died. Julian, who herself echoed those words, when she came to her Anchorhold, lived across the street from an Augustinian Priory where this saint's works were read and studied. She would have heard the Austin Friars' chanting of Psalms and of Ambrose's 'Deus Creator Omnium'.

Jerome (420), Paula (404) and Eustochium (419)

or was Helena the only European woman to visit the Holy Places in Africa and Asia during this period and to write letters describing her experiences. Let us also look at the Roman matron and widow Paula and her virgin daughter Eustochium. Paula and Eustochium wrote an important, joint, and most joy-filled letter to their friend in Rome, Marcella, published as Jerome's Epistola XLVI/46, in which they described their pilgrimage in A.D. 385 to the Holy Places, to Africa, to Israel, before settling down for the rest of their lives with Jerome in Bethlehem, financially supporting him and assisting his labours with translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, the Vulgate text to which Egeria did not have access. We often see paintings of scarlet-clad Cardinal Jerome in his study at his labours, but his womenfolk are forgotten and omitted from those canvesses, except in two, one now in the National Gallery in London, but which was at San Girolamo in Fiesole, which shows the widowed Paula, at her side her most beautiful virgin daughter, Eustochium, and another by Francisco Zurburan and Workshop now in the National Gallery in Washington, and originally painted for the Hieronymite Order founded by Alfonso of Jan's brother, and to which belonged the famous Sor Juana de la Cruz in Mexico City.

Paula movingly contrasts the wealth of Rome and the poverty of Bethlehem:


Paula has written a Christian Georgics, a Christian pastoral, though as if through the eyes of Karl Marx, Simone Weil, and Frantz Fanon. These insights into the injustices of privileged wealth bridge time; one can find them in the Prophets and the Gospels, in Horace and Juvenal, in Wyclif and More; but they are especially likely to be perceived by women who stand outside the structures of power, such as Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, and Nadine Gordimer. Her style is shaped by Cicero and Virgil, Horace and Juvenal; while her social thought is shaped by the Prophets, the Gospels and by Josephus. But in it she has also presented a discussion of the places she and her daughter physically visited in Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Cana, Tabgha, Capharnaum, Egypt and elsewhere, noting often the meanings of the Hebrew names of places and blending that philological knowledge with theology. Hebrew is a language centered upon the word, even the word for English's 'thing' being what is a spoken word, dabar, with the implication that all creation is God's Word and Adam's naming. Paula and Egeria grasp at that concept and for these women the names of places deeply involve the meaning of those names with the place.(24)

Paula's pilgrimage, like Egeria's, is a mapping out in time and space, using the Bible to understand the lands of the Bible. But Paula adds to Egeria's knowledge of the Bible in its Old Latin translation and her curiosity about Greek and comparative liturgy, her own knowledge not only of classical Latin but also of Greek and the Hebrew she is avidly studying. Helena, Egeria and Paula all use time and space, the book of the Bible and geography of the Holy Land as their Internet upon which to weave a web of links to sanctity, retrieving what is hallowed and hallowing.

Twenty years later, Jerome was to write another letter, his Epistola CVIII/108, praising Paula, and in it recapitulating the description of the pilgrimage that she had made. We learn much about Paula in Jerome's voluminous writings. He tells of her luxurious Roman life, her wealth, and her very great status. She, who had once always dressed in silks, and who had been used to being carried about Rome by her eunuch slaves so that her feet might never touch the ground, who was descended from Agamemnon, and whose husband was descended from Aeneas, had joined Marcella's group of high-born, wealthy Roman ladies, who together attempted to follow a life of monastic severity. Jerome became their teacher, expounding the Scriptures to them. But he quarrelled with Church officials in Rome most bitterly and found it expedient to return to Bethlehem. Paula and her daughter, Eustochium, joined him there, Paula leaving behind the rest of her children weeping on the quay. In the Holy Land Paula studied Hebrew so that she might sing the psalms, the chief early Christian devotional practice, in their original language and assist him in his translation work. She lived for twenty years in Bethlehem, dying there in A.D. 404. Paula and Eustochium's letter to Marcella pleads with their old friend that she leave Rome, called in the letter a 'Babylon,' and come to Jerusalem and its Holy Places. A noted Jerome scholar remarks that this letter is 'written in the name of Paula and her daughter but manifestly by Jerome himself, to Marcella,' then goes on to say, 'It is an idyllic piece, relating spiritual serenity and contentment . . . and stands in striking contrast to the querulous, vituperative note' of Jerome's typical writings. We find other male scholars making the same statements of Heloise's letters, that they are Abelard's, yet that they are in a totally different style than his.

The letter in question is Epistola XLVI. It describes Paula's pilgrimages to all these Holy Places in such a way as to have Marcella participate in their sacred journeying, mentally, and vicariously, in her imagination. Paula and Eustochium begin their letter by stating that, although the Crucifixion may have made Jerusalem an accursed place, there is ample scriptural justification for Christians to return to that holy city. Paula relies not only on the Scriptures and upon her growing knowledge of Hebrew but also upon Cicero for her arguments, describing both St. Paul speaking of his need to return to Jerusalem and Cicero speaking of his need to learn one's Greek not only in Sicily but in Athens, one's Latin not in Lilybaeum but in Rome. She adds, in a capstone to her argument, that Jerusalem is 'our Athens.' She then quotes Virgil's First Eclogue on the great distance of the British Isles from Rome in noting that Christian Gauls and Britons all make haste to come, not to Rome, but to far Jerusalem. Jerome is also fond of this phrase, but states it the opposite way: ' Et de Hierosolymis et de Britannia aequaliter patet aula coelestis: regnum enim dei intra nos est,' Epistola LVIII. Chaucer may have had it in mind with his Wife of Bath, who so often speaks of Jerome. Jerome writes the letter in 404 after Paula's death, giving Paula's vita to her virgin daughter, Eustochium. In contrast to Paula's letter to Marcella, Jerome's account of the pilgrimage Paula made is almost barren of references to classical authors. He does, however, mention the ' fables of the poets', de fabulis Poetarum , in giving the tale of Andromeda chained to a rock, as happening at Joppa, which he notes was also the harbor of the fugitive Jonah. He had earlier cited some lines of the Aeneid concerning the Greek Isles. But, unlike Paula, he does not show off his classical learning. He is here being more Christian than Ciceronian. (We recall his dream in which he is chided, or chides himself, by being told, 'Thou art not a Christian. Thou art a Ciceronian.'  But it is full of descriptions of her great piety and of her deep emotional participation in the past drama of the present places which she visits. He feminizes her. He is writing in her praise as had Valerius in that of Egeria. The letter waxes most sentimental about her parting from her family members, describing her as torn between the love of her children and her love for God.

Jerome in Epistola CVIII/108 notes Paula's deep, affective piety at the Cross and the Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and at the cave and church in Bethlehem, which she had not particularly stressed herself. He amplifies her previous words to Marcella and speaks of her as prostrating herself before the Cross, almost seeing upon it the hanging body of the Lord, as she prays, and as kissing the stones, the one which the angel had rolled away and the one in the Holy Sepulchre on which the Lord had lain. Then he describes her entering into the cave of the Nativity, weeping and as if seeing the Virgin wrapping the Child in swaddling clothes and placing him in the manger between the ox and the ass written of in the Prophets, the Magi adoring him, the star shining above, the Mother nursing the Child, the shepherds coming by night and seeing the Word which was made flesh as John wrote in the beginning of his Gospel:

n principio erat verbum et verbum caro factum est.'

One should note that Jerome, Paula and Eustochium lived in the adjacent cave, which one can still see today, reached by a passage from that of the Nativity, beneath the sanctuary in the Empress Helena's Bethlehem basilica.

Jerome's account in Epistola CVIII/108 ends by saying, and unconsciously echoing Valerius concerning Egeria:


It is an interesting relationship, that between Paula and Jerome. We should not forget that Chaucer will play upon it when he writes the Wife of Bath's Prologue, in which he has the Wife, in her scarlet garb, visit the same Holy Places as did St. Paula, and has her constantly cite, not classical authors, but St. Jerome, especially his treatise, Adversus Jovinianum, his diatribe against marriage and widowhood, in which he advocates, as he also did in a letter to Paula's daughter Eustochium, perpetual virginity.

Arsenius (450)

rsenius, born in 354 into Roman Senatorial rank, was selected as imperial tutor to Theodosius' sons, Arcadius and Honorius, arriving in Constantinople in 383, teaching there for eleven years. Agonizing amidst the splendour of the court one day he heard a voice saying, 'Arsenius, flee the company of men, and thou shalt live'. So he left, going to Alexandria and into the desert of Nitria.There he counselled the staying in one's cell for prayer, work and sustenance. It is said of him that at sunset on the Sabbath he would raise his hands in prayer, until the dawn light of Sunday shone upon his face. One brother looked through the window to see Arsenius standing in his cell in prayer, his whole body afire. It is said that because at court he had worn the finest, softest clothes, as a hermit he wore the meanest garb, and that he hid behind a pillar in church so that his white hair and beard not be seen. Similarly he let the water in which he soaked the rushes for basket become rank to compensate for the perfumes to which he had been accustomed. Arsenius would say, 'The monk is a stranger in a foreign land: let him not occupy himself with anything there and he will find rest'. He also said, 'If we seek God he will be revealed to us; if we laid hold on him he will remain with us'. On an occasion a brother said to Abba Arsenius, 'How is it that you who have much learning, both Greek and Latin, ask questions about the thoughts of humble Egyptian villagers'. Arsenius replied, 'With Greek and Latin learning I am acquainted, but I have not yet learned the alphabet of these villagers'. The Sayings of the Holy Fathers gives, 'It is right for a monk to live even as Abba Arsenius lived. Take care each day to stand before God without sin, and draw nigh unto him with tears as did the sinful woman, and pray to God as if he were before you, for he is near and looks carefully upon you'. Once a lawyer came to tell Arsenius he had been left a large sum of money in a will. Arsenius replied, 'I died before he did'. Abba Anthony told his disciples of Abba Arsenius and Abba Moses, that when a monk went to Abba Arsenius concerning the silent life of contemplation, he neither set a table for him nor gave him refreshment. Then he went to the blessed Abba Moses and he both welcomed him and gave him refreshment. Next in a vision he saw Abba Arsenius in a ship with the Spirit of God who was travelling with him. He also saw Abba Moses in a ship filled with angels. Thus it was understood that the life of silent contemplation was exalted above alms and ministrations as was the conduct of Matthew the Evangelist above that of Zacchaus the tax-gatherer. Often cited by our writers in this volume, in the Amherst manuscript, and in the writings of Dame Gertrude More, is his saying, 'That I have spoken I have many times repented, that I held my peace, I have never repented'.

Boethius (524)

oethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, was born about A.D. 480. A Christian, he also knew all the classical and pagan works of philosophy written by Plato and Aristotle, Parmenides and Pythagoras, Cicero and Seneca, and he reconciled these to Christian theology in his own writings. He was a Roman Senator, defending the ancient principles of their Republic, but was thrown into prison by the barbarian Emperor Theodoric where he awaited a most brutal form of execution, ropes to be bound around his head till his eyes burst out and then to be finished off by the bludgeon and the axe, A.D. 524. During that time he wrote The Consolation of Philosophy, which is modeled upon the biblical books of Job and Wisdom and upon the Platonic dialogues about Socrates while he was awaiting execution in Athens. Boethius in this work presents Philosophia as a beautiful woman who consoles Boethius (she is really his wiser self) for his foolish and mawkish self-pitying. She gets him to recover from his depression by telling him of Time and Eternity, Creation and Creator, Man and God, the Circle and the Centre. She is his and our psychiatrist.

His book was treasured up for centuries, only falling out of favour at the Age of Reason. King Alfred translated it into Old English, Jean de Meun translated it into French, Chaucer translated it into Middle English. Queen Elizabeth I translated it into Elizabethan English. Dante, Chaucer and Julian of Norwich all used its concepts and were all deeply influenced by it. Boethius' Consolation is a key to understanding medieval poetry and Christian theology. It is also a 'golden book' as Edward Gibbon called it, that can be of use to disordered souls in our own moment in time.

The work is written in sections, divided between Prose and Poetry. Medieval manuscripts of the text are richly illuminated, presenting Boethius in prison, mourning on his bed, and visited by the Lady Philosophia, and from her Dante derived his consoling figure of Beatrice.


Pseudo-Dionysius (VI century)

hristianity, for centuries, believed that a late fifth-century, early sixth-century theologian was, as he pretended to be, that Dionysius the Areopagite whom Paul converted, along with the woman Damaris, at Athens (Acts 17.22-34). The Neoplatonist Pseudo-Dionysius wrote magnificent treatises, Julian of Norwich quoting from him three times in her Showing of Love. His manuscripts had been given by the Emperor Michael the Stammerer in A.D. 827 to King Louis the Pious. John Scotus translated them in 862, Anastasius, the papal librarian, commenting on the text in 875. Abbot Suger of St Denis (Saint Dionysius) commenced Gothic architecture through using Dionysius' theology in stone, lead and glass.

Gothic Architecture, Norwich Cathedral

But Abelard, while a monk at St Denis, denounced Dionysius's identity as fraudulent. Meanwhile, the Victorines also discovered and used the Dionysian corpus of writings. Cardinal Adam Easton, the brilliant Benedictine of Julian's Norwich, owned the complete works of Pseudo-Dionysius, in a fine thirteenth-century manuscript giving some of the Greek text as well as all the Latin translation, the invocation to the Trinity being most beautifully illuminated with a gold-leafed, intertwined 'T' at folio 108v. That manuscript is today, Cambridge Ii.III.32. Meanwhile, the Cloud of Unknowing Author (but whom I suspect to have been Adam Easton writing to Julian), translated the Mystic Theology into Middle English as Deonise Hid Diuinite for a woman contemplative. To do so he converted the Trinity into an invocation to divine and feminine Wisdom.

Dionysius also, similarly as had Boethius, spoke of God at the centre, 'All the radii of a circle are brought together in the unity of the centre', Adam Easton annotating those lines in his manuscript now at Cambridge.

Benedict (547), Scholastica (before 547) and Gregory (604)

regory the Great (c. 540-604) wrote an account of the Life and Miracles of St Benedict (c.480-547), casting these in the form of Dialogues between himself and Peter, a fellow monk. In these Dialogues there is a most moving account of Benedict and of his twin sister Scholastica and how she is able to force her brother to break his Rule and stay over night at her convent at Subiaco so that they may converse all night upon God. She prays to God for a storm which he grants. Three days later she dies.

That account is followed by one of Benedict's vision of God as greater than all his Creation. He is standing in prayer at a window of a great tower, apart from his sleeping disciples, when suddenly there is a great light, greater than that of the sun. As he marvels he suddenly sees as it were the whole world collected into one ray of light before his eyes.

Gregory and Peter discuss that vision, Gregory explaining that to the soul who sees the Creator all Creation becomes small, 'animae uidenti creatorem angusta est omnis creatorem'. He goes on to explain that it is not that the world contracts, but that the soul, seeing God, expands above the world, becoming greater than itself. 'Quod autem collectus mundus ante eius oculos dicitur, non caelum et terra contracta est, sed uidentis animus dilatatus, qui, in deo raptus, uidere sine difficultate potuit omne quod infra deum est'. And he further discourses upon the interior light and that of the eyes in this vision. The male abbot has experienced Mary's Magnificat in his prayers. 'My soul doth magnify the Lord'. Smallness become largeness; darkness, light; humility, power.

Gregory's Dialogues was, of course, a staple in Benedictine circles. The lovely dialogue, within the Dialogues, following upon this one of Benedict's vision of God, was of the twin brother and sister, and which is sung antiphonally on the feast day of Benedict and Scholastica by Benedictines, celebrating the breaking of their sacred Rule. And that served to make Benedict's following vision concerning prayer the more memorable.

Christina of Markyate refers to Benedict's vision, where she sees in a flash of light the whole world.

And Julian of Norwich refers to it - and especially in connection with the Virgin at the Annunciation and Nativity,

and with the hazelnut passage,

and then again and again fugally throughout her text.

For Julian, whose anchorhold at St Julian's Church is under the Benedictines of Carrow Priory, who are in turn under the Benedictines of Norwich Cathedral Priory, is seeped in Benedictinism. It is possible that her Benedictinism is taught her by the brilliant Norwich Benedictine Adam Easton. It is even possible that Adam Easton might be her brother, might even be her twin.

B. St Lioba, Hildegard of Bingen, Marguerite Porete, Angela of Foligno, Mechtild of Hackeborn, Dante Alighieri, the Friends of God, Henry Suso, Jan van Ruusbroec, Birgitta of Sweden, Catherine of Siena

n Early Christianity, in Ireland and England, hermits, contemplatives, paralleling those of the Egyptian and Syrian deserts, were known as the Celi Dei , the Friends of God. This name is also frequent in later contemplative movements and writings. At the same time that Julian of Norwich, Walter Hilton and the author of the Cloud of Unknowing were formulating their contemplative texts in England, other mystics were writing on the Continent. As in England, women were present alongside men in this project, this textual community stretching over most of Europe. Meister Eckhart had available to him the writings of Hildegard von Bingen, as had also John Tauler those of Mechtild von Magdebourg, and those of Marguerite Porete. Associated with Meister Eckhart was Agnes of Hungary, with Henry Suso, Elsbeth Stgel, while John Tauler likewise preached to Dominican nuns and Jan van Ruusbroec wrote spiritual treatises to them. That sense of women belonging to the 'Friends of God' (Wisdom 7.27, James 2.23) as well as men may have had its origins in the Christianizing of Germany from England by Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns, influenced by the Celi Dei, and who established double monasteries, St Hilda's Whitby, St Lioba's Bischopsheim and countless others. At first the mysticism, or contemplation, is Benedictine. Then it becomes strongly Dominican. Associated with it are also the women Beguines, such as Margaret Porete and Mechtild of Magdebourg. This booklet traces the lives and works of the God Friends, recognising that three of their texts, Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls, Jan van Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone and an extract of Henry Suso's Horologium Sapientiae, are found together with Julian's Showing of Love in the Amherst Manuscript in the British Library and that these other works may well have been translated for her and thus constituted her Library of Mystics from which she partly drew her inspiration.

Lioba (781)

t Boniface travelled from England to Germany proselytizing amongst the pagan tribes there and establishing monasteries for both men and women. St Lioba, St Boniface's kinswoman, was a nun in Wessex who had studied under Mother Tetta (in secular life, Cuthberga, sister of the King of Wessex, wife of the King of Northumbria). Boniface sent for Lioba to come to Germany, because she was a skilled Classicist, learned in the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, canon law and the decrees of all the councils. In fact, she was never without a book in her hand, reading at every possible opportunity and she never forgot what she read. Her name 'Lioba' means 'Beloved'. Boniface asked that her bones be laid by his at her death. Charlemagne's wife adored her but Lioba hated the life of court like poison.


Her life tells, among others, this story: 'She had a dream in which one night she saw a purple thread issuing from her mouth. It seemed to her that when she took hold of it with her hand and tried to draw it out there was no end to it. . . When her hand was full of thread and it still issued from her mouth she rolled it round and round and made a ball of it .' An old and prophetic nun was asked about the meaning of the dream and explained that it referred to Lioba's wise counsels spoken from her heart. 'Furthermore, the ball which she made by rolling it round and round signifies the mystery of the divine teaching, which is set in motion by the words and deeds of those who give instruction and which turns earthwards through active works and heavenwards through contemplation, at one time swinging downwards through compassion for one's neighbour, again swinging upwards through the love of God.'

The image of the ball of purple thread in Lioba's hand is similar to Julian's hazel nut in the palm of her hand.

Hildegard of Bingen (1179)

From the Lucca Manuscript

                                 Deus creavit mundum
                                 non facio illi iniuriam,
                                 sed volo uti illo.

      Hildegard, Ordo Virtutum
ildegard of Bingen, and other women like her, such as Hrotswitha of Gandesheim (A.D. 932-1000) and Herrad of Landesburg, followed in the learned Benedictine tradition established in German-speaking countries from England, such as with St Leoba, which gave women the status of Christian equality with men. Hildegard composed music and wrote treatises on medicine, on Benedict's Rule, a play, many letters, and visionary mystical works which she also illuminated in a manner that is deeply compelling. But, unlike Lioba, she was not a pleasing person. Until the age of forty she kept to her bed. Richardis, her friend and fellow nun, then persuaded her to embark on her career as writer of letters to the leaders of Church and State in her day and to compose her mystical treatises. When Richardis left her to become an abbess at another monastery Hildegard was furious, demanding her return. Richardis, obediently, died. Hildegard ruled her monastery by means of tyrannising over her nuns with her migraines - about which she writes in her medical works and whose effect she illuminates in her mystical treatises. She is an example of a genius who is less than charitable. One admires her work, but not her desire for control. She has significant prophetic messages for us today.

We need to see Hildegard's play, the Ordo Virtutum, in its contexts, first of monastic obedience, then of flesh and blood reality concerning disobedience behind its morality, the tragedy of Hildegard's companion, Richardis von Stade, and lastly the surrounding text in which it first was found, the Scivias, especially the final section, and other writings by Hildegard which enclosed this central drama in her thought and her life. Hildegard's Ordo Virtutum is the celebration of Obedience following upon a period of revolt. It is the story not so much of a prodigal son as of a prodigal daughter.

In real life there was such a prodigal daughter, Richardis von Stade, the much loved fellow nun who had colluded with and nursed Hildegard in her illness of not only the customary migraines but even bouts of blindness and paralysis at the time when she sought to leave Disibodenberg in order to found Rupertsberg. Richardis had encouraged Hildegard in her writing of Scivias, begun in 1141. Perhaps she recognized that this was psychotherapy for her abbess. The partly completed text of Scivias, Bernard's interest in it, and Richardis' family influence enabled Pope Eugenius III to grant papal recognition to Hildegard at the Synod of Trier and also made possible the move to Rupertsberg. At this time the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had a secret interview concerning prophecy with Hildegard, the Sibyl of the Rhine, at his royal palace at Ingelheim. It is very likely that these clustered actions took place through the influence of Richardis von Stade and her powerful family in their attempt to save Hildegard's life.

Then Adelheid was elected abbess of Gandesheim in 1152, Richardis having been elected abbes of Bassum in 1151. Hildegard had bitterly opposed Richardis' election which would take her way from her, and she ungratefully took the case to her family and to the pope. Adelheid's election was not so disturbing to her. The Archbishop of Bremen, Richardis' brother, have been forced to write to Hildegard to break the news to her of Richardis' sudden death on 29 October 1151. He told her that his sister when dying had stated her intention of returning to Hildegard and Rupertsberg. Hildegard, answering his letter, described Richardis in words that echo and mirror those of the Ordo Virtutum and its surrounding text in the Scivias; there are also echoes of another letter written to a woman who had abandoned being a nun and to whom Hildegard had referred as a prodigal son. In all these writings Hildegard stressing her outrage at women's disobedience, used the Benedictine emphasis upon Ordo, even to the extent of paraphrasing Benedict's Rule, while describing the serpent, the devil, in Virgilian terms borrowed from the Aeneid, Book II, to give vent to her personal emotions.

Perhaps within that rage is Hildegard's envy of Richardis' freedom. Her headaches and invalidism could indicate suppressed fury. She herself tended to recover from serious illness through being disobedient. She had been presented to Disibodenberg as a child of eight, and took her vows of perpetul virginity and obedience very early in life. Obedience, Ordo, is central to her life and art. Yet her writings are full of sexual curiosity and lore, this material granting her writings some of their most powerful images. Yet she disobeyed Disibodenberg in founding St Rupertsberg. Yet she herself would defy St Paul against women preaching, and she would herself preach at Trier - like Mary Magdalen's legendary preaching in Provence. Mary Magdalen being perceived in monasticism as having been the first contemplative, the model for monastic life - though Hildegard oddly compared her love for Richardis to that of Paul for Timothy. Yet she would even, in 1178, when she was eighty, defy the Church concerning the burial of a young nobleman and would face six months of excommunication. Yet her music disobeys, to its glory, the acceptable and expected intervals of Gregorian chant. Not for nothing did Goethe, who knew her work, echo her love of viriditas with his Faustian 'Grey, dear Friend, is all theory,/ And green is life's golden tree'.

In the play, but only in play, not in reality, the Anima/ Richardis returns to Queen Humility/ Abbess Hildegard, the ugly shouted words of the Devil giving way to the chanted symphony of the Virtues and the returned Soul - an alternative and comedic ending to the tragic story. The scenes of the Soul and of the chained Devil are splendidly illuminated in the now lost Scivias codex. It could well be that had it not been for Richardis' disobedience, first to the concept of women's helplessness, then to the concept of her dependency upon another, and finally Richardis' choice of death as freedom from Hildegard's tyranny, the writings, the music and the illuminations we so treasure today could not have come into being. They are like the pearl of great price: they inscribe, chant and illumine the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us now conclude with Hedwig's vision of Hildegard walking in the cloister which she had built, singing her own sequence O virga ac diadema.

Mechtild of Hackeborn (1298)

ertrude of Hackeborn was elected Abbess of Helfta in 1251 at nineteen. Her sister, Mechthild of Hackeborn, like Mechtild of Magdebourg, wrote visionary works. And so did another nun who entered the convent, Gertrude the Great. Their visions are largely based on Bernard and the Song of Songs and filled with eroticism and the Body of Christ, in particular, his Sacred Heart. Julian is to borrow some of that imagery in her Showing of Love for the scene where Christ shows her the wound in his side, as he had earlier shown it to Doubting Thomas, to affirm his love for his Creation. The scribe of her Amherst Short Text Showing of Love also is the scribe of Mechtild of Hackeborn's Book of Ghostly Grace in Middle English. The seventeenth-century English Benedictine nuns in exile  consciously took Helfta as their model, the very young Helen More taking the name in religion of 'Gertrude' with that awareness.

Angela of Foligno

ngela of Foligno, a Franciscan tertiary, who did not really choose to live in a physical cloister or a physical cell, spoke of the fruits of contemplation as being where one's soul becomes a room, a cell, in which one finds the All Good, finds the entire Creation. This account, written down at her dictation by Fra Arnaldo, her confessor and spiritual director, often clandestinely, gives: 'anima mea est una camera . . . est ibi . . . omne bonum'.

She also speaks of this state of welcoming Christ in the Eucharist within the soul with his heavenly host as being both 'thrones' and 'cities', concepts Julian repeats in her own writing, in the First, Long and Short Texts, and in reported discourse in Margery's writing, the Oral Text. Angela will even, in the Instructions, use the same image as had Christina of Markyate, of Christ as Pilgrim, coming to one's soul, one cell of self knowledge. Yet in her Instructions she also claims that she hypocritically enclosed herself in her room in Lent to impress people and win esteem, and that in her cell and her soul the devil lurked. Though following that introduction, not merely of humility, but humiliation, not merely of contempt but vituperation, she then speaks of truth and wisdom seated in her soul, a passage Julian of Norwich will echo: And then in Instruction XIV, she writes to her Franciscan disciples, echoing Arsenius, that 'There are only two things in the world that I find pleasure in speaking about, namely, knowledge of God and self, and remaining continually in one's cell. . . . I believe that anyone who does not know how to stay put and remain in a cell ought not to go anywhere.' In Instruction XXIX, the material crescendoes with an entire Chapter on the Knowledge of God and Oneself, exactly as in Julian's texts: Finally, the Franciscans preparing her Book of Angela of Foligno following her death conclude with noting that the apostles, who preached Christ's life, learned from a woman that he was raised from the dead to life, and that St Jerome had cited the Prophetess Huldah, to whom crowds ran, that the gift of prophecy had been transmitted to the female sex to shame men who are doctors of the Law but who transgress God's commandments. Mechtild of Magdebourg's Flowing Light of the Godhead was similarly defended by Dominican Heinrich von Halle writing of Deborah's practice of solitary contemplation from which to prophesy to the people of Israel and of Huldah's prophecy to the king Josias.

Perhaps Franciscan Angela of Foligno helped shaped Dominican Catherine of Siena's and Benedictine Julian of Norwich's concept of a 'Cell of Self-Knowledge'. Certainly the English Benedictine nuns in exile at Cambrai and Paris were copying out her text as well as Julian's. A small manuscript by them, Bibliothque Mazarine 1202, titled 'Colections', finished 23 July 1724, on pages 21-22, gives:

And a manuscript at the Bodleian Library, Laud 46, at folios 70 verso and 72 recto, brings together excerpts from Marguerite Porete's Liber speculum animarum simplicium, her Mirror of Simple Souls, and the Libellus de vita et doctrina Angelae de Fulgineo , The Book of Angela of Foligno.

Marguerite Porete (1310)

arguerite Porete, like Mechtild of Magdebourg, was a Beguine. She, too, was influenced by the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius. She wrote her magnum opus, The Mirror of Simple Souls, presenting Pseudo-Dionysius' negative theology as a dialogue between the Soul who sends to a distant Emperor, God, her portrait, and Love and Reason. In the text she states that in such a state of contemplative love of God the soul has no need of masses or prayers or of anything else. She also gives the Pseudo-Dionysian principle of evil as nought, as nothing, as non-existence. First her book was publicly burned by the Bishop of Cambrai at Valenciennes, then she was tried in Paris by the Inquisition and herself burnt at the stake in 1310, the people weeping because of her great learning and goodness. The theology faculty at the Sorbonne had united against her, amongt them Nicholas of Lyra, the converted Jew, whose commentary on the Apocalypse would influence Magister Mathias and through him Birgitta of Sweden. A friend struggled to protect her, calling himself the Angel of Philadelphia, but was forced to recant and burn his habit and belt, living the rest of his life in a monastic prison. Later we hear of Jean Gerson attacking both Marguerite Porete, whom he misnames as Marie of Valenciennes, for 'her incredibly subtle book', and Jan van Ruusbroec. Some copies of her manuscript survived, including three translated into English, one of which is in the same manuscript as is the earliest extant Julian's Showing of Love manuscript in the British Library, the Amherst Manuscript, which is written by a Lincolnshire scribe circa 1435-1450, perhaps earlier, and which emphatically states that this version of Julian's text, the Short Text, was written out in 1413 when she was still alive. The contents of this manuscript, apart from its initial two texts which are translations made by Richard Misyn, a Lincoln Carmelite, for an anchoress, Margaret Heslyngton, from texts written by Richard Rolle in Latin for other women contemplatives, one of them also an anchoress named Margaret, may represent Julian's own contemplative library. The Amherst Manuscript includes as well the Henry Suso excerpts from the Horologium Sapientiae and the Jan van Ruusbroec, Sparkling Stone, which are given here on this Juliansite. It is possible that Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls, present in this same manuscript, was a part of Julian's own anachoritic library and that it influenced her. She departs from Marguerite Porete, however, in being actively concerned for her even-Christians, rather than Quietist.

Dante Alighieri (1321) 

ante Alighieri, like Julian, lived in the fourteenth-century, and was as deeply influenced as was she by these three mystic theologians. He embedded the principle of Love, spoken of by all three, as the controlling force of his Commedia as it is of the Cosmos, ' l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle'. And in Vita Nuova XII, he had described God as Love saying to him, 'Ego tamquam centrum circuli, cui simili modo se habent circumferentie partes; tu autem non sic.' [I am as at the centre of the circle, equidistant from all parts, but you are not'.]

Dante and Julian both share in the sense of the Trinity as Divine Power, Wisdom and Love (Inferno III), both share, by way of Marguerite Porete, in the theology of Mary as paradoxically Mother and Daughter of her Creator, 'figlia del tuo figlio' (Paradiso XXXIII).

It is not likely that Julian was influenced by Dante except, perhaps, through Cardinal Adam Easton, who quotes from him in his own writings. What is important is that they share the same principles derived from these preceding mystic theologians, participating in a past 'Internet' of God's Wisdom. Common also to many of these mystics, these Friends of God, is the sense of drawing apart, as to Mount Tabor with Christ, only to descend the Mountain again to be with all people in God's image, to be both chosen and universal, to treasure these things in their heart as had Mary, their task to seek Wisdom, amongst women and amongst men, and with her to be part of God's sweet ordering of the cosmos.

All these writers, Augustine, Boethius, Dionysius, Dante and Julian, are influenced by the Hebraic and feminine figure of God's Wisdom, God's Daughter.

The Friends of God, Henry Suso, Jan van Ruusbroec

Henry Suso (1366)

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 Stgel, a Dominican nun at Tss, 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

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. One 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.

There is 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 concluding reference in this text to the Desert Father Arsenius is also to be found in the booklet 'Colections', seized at the French Revolution. 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 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

[Fol. 136]

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

[Fol. 136v]

do it lightly and at last with great liking, if he continue and
leave not what he has first begun. Hear now, my dear son,
the teaching of your father. Heed carefully my words and
write them in your heart as into a book. Follow not the multitude
of those who go back to the desires and lusts of their hearts
in which devotion is slackened, charity grows cold and meek obedience
is cast aside, in those who covet to be over other men in
prelacy and busily seek esteem and delicacies for the stomach,
desiring overmuch gifts and questing rewards that in this
world are gained, which they covet for as reward of their work. But
in another world they shall be left empty of everlasting
joy. And therefore follow not this manner of people but take
heed busily to the worthy flowers, that is the holy Fathers, that
spread about the sweet odour of the sovereign holiness and busy
yourself to take the purpose with like intent and conversation as is now
shown to you. Wherefore, whether you eat or drink or any other
thing do it late. Ever this voice of your sweet father sounds in your
ears saying, 'My son, turn again into thy heart. Withdraw
yourself from all outward things as much as
is possible to you and with a fervent love cleave ever to the
sovereign good that is God and having always your mind lifted
up in contemplation of heavenly things. So that all your soul
with the powers and strengths thereof gathered together into God
be made one spirit with him in whom stands sovereign
perfection of our way and living in this world. This short
doctrine for form and manner of living is given to you in
which stands the sovereignty of all perfection. And in which
if you will busily study and truly fulfil it, in effect you
will be blessed and in this manner begin here in this frail body
everlasting felicity. This is the healthful way that Arsenius,
taught by the Angel, kept himself and bade his disciples
keep. That is to say, 'Flee, Keep Silence, and Be in Rest'. 'These', he
said, 'Are the principles of spiritual health'. God be Thanked.


P. Odo Lang O.S.B., Librarian, Einsiedeln Abbey, which owns major Suso manuscript, Cod. 710 (322), also major Mechtild von Magdebourg manuscript

Foto: Frau Liliane Graud, Zrich

Jan van Ruusbroec  (1381)

The Amherst Manuscript also translates Jan van Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone into Middle English:

  here may no man entere the sayde exercyse be cunnynge
ffor contemplatyfe lyfe may nought be taught oone be anothere
  bot where as god whiche es verrey trowthe manyfestys hym
  selfe in spirit. ther all necessaries moste plentevously are lerned
  and that is that the spirit says in the Apochalips vincenti
  says he schalle gyffe hym a litil white stone and in it a newe
        name the whiche no man knowes but who that takys it. This
        litel stone promysed to a victorious man it is called. Calcalus.
        for the litelnes ther of. ffor yyf alle a man trede it with his fete
        yit he is not hurte th er with. This stone it is red with a schyny
        nge witness to the lykenesse of a flawme of fyre. litylle and
        rownde and be the serkle ther of it is playne and smothe. Be this
        litel stone we vndyrstande oure lorde ihesu cryste. whyche by
        his dyuynyte is the whitnesse of euer lastande lyght and the
        schynere of the ioye of god. Also the myrroure withoute spotte
        in the whiche alle thynge hase lyfe. Whosumeuere therefore


Jan van Ruusbroec, Sparkling Stone, Amherst Manuscript, fols. 117 verso-118 verso

St Birgitta of Sweden

irgitta of Sweden , like Hildegard of Bingen, began her intense political and authorial career suddenly in her forties. Birgitta was widowed in 1344 and at that point commenced her role as prophet not just to Sweden but to all of Europe. She had already had visions, and so did others concerning her. These visions she now wrote down with the help of major Swedish ecclesiasts, one of them Master Mathias, who had studied Hebrew under Nicholas Lyra in Paris, an Augustinian Canon who was associated with Dominicans, and who translated the Bible into Swedish for her. She spoke of Master Mathias and of many others in her circle as 'Friends of God'. Her first agenda was the reform of King Magnus of Sweden, who was much in need of it. But she was also deeply concerned about Europe, particularly about the Hundred Years' War being waged between England and France, and the exile of the Popes to Avignon. Master Mathias in 1347 was delegated by Bishop Hemming of Abo to take the document to the Kings of England and France and to the Pope in which Christ and the Virgin order them to cease their war and the Pope to return to Rome.

Bishop Hemming and St Birgitta, Diptych, Finland


This is what she wrote in a vision about and to King Magnus. In it she sees a lectern and a book. 'For the appearance of the lectern was as if it had been a sunbeam [of red, gold, white]. . . . And when I looked upwards, I might not comprehend the length and breadth of the lectern; and looking downward, I might not see nor comprehend the greatness nor the deepness of it . . . After this I see a Book on the same lectern, shining like most bright gold. Which Book, and its Scripture, was not written with ink, but each word in the book was alive and spoke itself, as if a man should say, do this or that, and soon it was done with speaking of the Word. No man read the Scripture of that Book, but whatever that Scripture contained, all was seen on the lectern. Before this lectern I see a king . . . The said king sat crowned as if it had been a vessel of glass closed about . . .'

She continues to describe how the king's glass globe is protected by an angel but threatened by a demon . . . 'This living king appears to you as if in as it were a vessel of glass, for his life is but as it were frail glass and suddenly to be ended'. She continues by speaking of how this king knowingly sins but that if he repents he can be saved by the angel from the fiend. Beside him is a dead king above whom is writing describing his lust, his pride, his avarice. . . but the writing is blankly gone from the part that should have proclaimed his love of God.

'Then the Word speaks from the lectern, saying "[What you see is the Godhead's self. That you cannot understand the length, breadth, depth and height of the lectern means that in God is not found either beginning or end. For God is and was without beginning, and shall be without end "]. Also the Word spoke to me and said "[The Book that you see on the lectern means that in the Godhead is endless justice and wisdom, to which nothing may be added or lessened. And this is the Book of Life, that is not written as the world's writing, that is and was not, but the scripture of this Book is forever. For in the Godhead is endless being and understanding of all things, present, past and to come, without any variation or changing. And nothing is invisible to it, for it sees all things "]. That the Word spoke itself means that God is the endless Word, from whom are all words, and in whom things have life and being. And this same Word spoke then visibly when the Word was made man and was conversant among men'. She adds to the King that she is giving him the Word's words, adding that 'few receive and believe the heavenly words given from God, which is not God's fault, but man's'.

Later, she writes 'I saw an altar and a chalice with wine and water and bread and I saw how in a church of the world a priest began the mass, arrayed in a priest's vestments. And when he had done all that belonged to the Mass, I saw as if the sun and moon and the stars with all the other planets, and all the heavens with their courses and moving spheres, sounded with the sweetest note and with sundry voices.'

St John writing the Apocalypse, Hans Memling, St John's Hospital, Bruges

In another vision, at the end of her life, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, she sees the judgement of her wicked son Charles where her prayers and her tears for Charles cause the devil to have amnesia concerning her son's sins. First the book in which the fiend has written them down suddenly has blank pages instead of writing, then the sack in which he has placed them is empty when turned inside out, then the devil himself forgets them totally from his memory and goes wailing off to Hell, cursing Birgitta.

Much of Birgitta's visionary imagery comes from law courts, for her father was the King of Sweden's law man and her husband was likewise a law man. She both prophesied and wrote following the Black Death of 1348 when Doomsday, Judgment Day, seemed particularly near. She told King Magnus that the Black Death would happen, then left for Italy, Sweden being too dangerous for her. Birgitta set up her household in Rome, living in prayer and constantly receiving visions, having male secretaries assist her, one of them a Spanish Bishop, Alfonso of Jan. In the last year of her life she journeyed to the Holy Land, preaching on her journey in Naples and Cyprus, prophesying the 1452 Fall of Constantinople. Her massive book of the Revelationes, which is really Julian's title of 'Showings', was copied out in illuminated manuscripts, then in print, and treasured throughout Europe.

At her death in 1373 Alfonso of Jan, Queen Joanna of Naples, Queen Margaret of Sweden, the Emperor Charles of Bohemia, and Cardinal Adam Easton of England, a Benedictine from Julian's Norwich, all sought Birgitta's canonization as a saint.


St Catherine of Siena (1380)

ope Gregory XI sent Alfonso of Jan to Catherine of Siena at Birgitta of Sweden's death. At that point Catherine, who had previously been illiterate, proceeded to write important letters to Popes and Emperors, Kings and Queens and even to the condottiere Sir John Hawkwood, on the need for peace. We do not think of her as part of the Dominican-inspired Friends of God movement across Europe but this act clearly places her in that context. Pope Urban VI wanted her to have Birgitta's daughter, Catherine of Sweden, accompany her to carry out diplomacy on his behalf with Queen Joanna of Naples.

Catherine had been the twenty-fourth child of a Sienese dyer. Everyone had wanted her to marry but she refused, having made a vow of chastity, and instead sought to enter the Dominican Third Order, which only admitted women who were widows. She won. As a Dominican Tertiary she cared for the sick and dying, including criminals condemned to death in Siena. She was surrounded by disciples, one of them an English hermit, William Flete, whose work, The Remedies Against Temptations, Julian quotes and uses in the Showing of Love, another a lawyer Cristofano Di Ganno, who later translated Birgitta's Revelations into exquisite Italian, another a painter, Andrea Vanni, whose delicate portrait of her survives, indeed in the very place of her major visions in San Domenico, Siena.

Andrea Vanni, St Catherine of Siena, San Domenico, Siena

The young Catherine of Siena immured herself in her room in prayer - and later wrote or rather, dictated, of that time as her 'Cell of Self-Knowledge'. Besides her Letters she had also written, or, again, rather dictated, the Dialogo, the Dialogue between God and his Daughter, Catherine's Soul, in which he tells her that his Son is the bridge between God and man, a bridge that is like a stair, beginning first with the affections, then love, then peace. He adds that his Son's 'divinity is kneaded with the clay of your humanity like one bread'. This work, likely through Cardinal Adam Easton of Norwich who knew all three women, influenced Julian's Showing of Love, her 'Revelations'. A most beautiful manuscript of the Dialogo was translated into Middle English for the Brigittine nuns of Syon Abbey and called the Orcherd of Syon. It was printed by Wynken de Worde, Caxton's successor, again with that title, in 1519. It is illustrated below. Its exemplar may well have been a manuscript Adam gave Julian.

The Middle English Orcherd of Syon translating her Revelation, her Dialogo, states that such a soul

Her confessor and biographer was Raymond of Capua who became head of the Dominican Order. Pope Urban VI leaned heavily upon her for his own survival. Severely anorexic, she died at the age of thirty-three, collapsing under the weight, she said, of the Church.

II. Medieval Irish and English Contemplatives

The contemplative world is the world of prayer. When Julian would have been enclosed in her Anchorhold one of the prayers said was a later, abbreviated version of the following:

St Patrick's Lorica, 'The Cry of the Deer' (VII century)

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

'The Dream of the Rood' (VIII century)

The Ruthwell Cross, Scotland

he earliest written English poem is the 'Dream of the Rood' inscribed in runes upon a stone cross in Scotland. The delight of being a pilgrim scholar is in journeying to Carlisle, then across the border from Hadrian's Wall to Bewcastle and Ruthwell to see these ancient monuments, and then to Vercelli in Italy and seeing its manuscript. None of the original versions of this poem are today in England. Today, the English language in the world's eyes, is the language of commerce, of power, of imperium, of war, like that of pagan Rome. We tend to forget its earliest poem, centred most crucially upon the Cross, upon spirituality.

My pilgrimages, imitating those of hly women such as Helena, Egeria, Paula, Eustochium, Pega, Guthrithyr, Margaret, Birgitta and Margery, took me not only to Ruthwell, Bewcastle, and Vercelli, but also to Jerusalem, where I saw the Holy Sepulchre and the site of the Cross, and finally to Florence, where I organized an international conference of the Laurentian Library's Codex Amiatinus, brought by Ceolfrith from Wearmouth-Jarrow to Italy. At that conference we noted that Jarrow has the same inhabited vine sculpture as has the Ruthwell Cross, copying classicizing scuptural elements foreign to Hibernian or Anglo-Saxon work, and Ceolfrith was specifically noted by Bede to have sent such stone-masons skilled in Roman work to King Nechtan in 710.


The Roman Empress Helena, who likely came from York, where her son had been proclaimed Emperor, had commenced the practice and contemplation of pilgrimage to the Holy Places, to be followed in turn by women such as Paula, Eustochium, Fabiola, Marcella, Egeria and others. Emperor Constantine had himself been converted to Christianity, and converted the whole Roman Empire with him to Christianity, because of his Christian mother Helena and because of the dream vision he experienced (A.D. 312) of the Cross seen by him in the sky, prior to his victory over a pagan enemy. Northumbria's King Oswald (A.D. 634), a successor to King Edwin, then erected a cross prior to the Battle of Heavenfield in imitation of the Emperor Constantine.

The Anglo-Saxon Ruthwell Cross, reflecting Constantine and Oswald's crosses, allows those who see and read it to contemplate in turn each place concerning the life of Christ, Nazareth, the Egyptian Wilderness, the Jordan Wilderness, Galilee, and Jerusalem, culminating with the Crucifixion. It is a map of the Holy Places that pilgrims may read. The runes of the 'Dream of the Rood' inscribed about their edges, their margins, describe the writer, likely Cdmon, dreaming of the Cross speaking to him, narrating of the wood and blood and of the sacred burden it had once borne; then, in Cynewulf's longer version, of its being turned into the sacred reliquary bedecked by the Emperor Constantine with gold and rubies at Constantinople. Jerome, whose works were read at Whitby, had practiced contemplating upon the Crucifix, becoming himself as naked as the naked Christ, in his 'imitatio Christi'. So here does Cdmon, if he is its author, in his contemplation meet with the blood-stained wood of the Roman gallows (Anglo-Saxon 'galgu') erected once to hang Jesus, the Christ, the King of the Jews. So does Cdmon's poem, and its Cynewulfian revision, today have us converse as pilgrim visionaries with the ignoble gallows and imperial reliquary of God.

The poem is shaped in two forms, both used in Anglo-Saxon Riddles. It begins with the dreamer saying 'I saw', then has the inanimate object speak, telling its observers, its poet and its readers, 'I am'. There are such Anglo-Saxon Riddles spoken by 'Book', by 'Cross', etc. In a sense it, too, is the mocking titulus placed above the Cross, 'Jesus, King of the Jews'.

The longer version is given from the manuscript left by an Anglo-Saxon pilgrim in Vercelli, Italy, the rubricated lines being those given in the runes on the Ruthwell Cross.


ear, while I tell of the best of dreams . which came to me at midnight
when humankind kept their beds.
It seemed that I saw the Tree itself . borne on the air, light wound round it,
brightest of beams, all that beacon was . covered with gold, gems stood
fair at its foot, and five rubies . set in a crux flashed
from the crosstree. Around angels of God . all gazed upon it,
since first fashioning fair . It was not a felon's gallows,
for holy ones beheld it there . and men, and the whole Making shone for it
Trophy of Victory . I, stained and marred,
stricken with shame, saw the glory-tree . shine out gaily, sheathed in
decorous gold; and gemstones made . for their Maker's Tree a right mail-coat
Yet through the masking gold I might perceive .
what terrible sufferings were there
It bled from the right side . Ruth in the heart
Afraid I saw that unstill brightness . change raiment and colour,
again clad in gold or again slicked with sweat . spangled with spilling blood.

I, lying there a long while . beheld, sorrowing, the Healer's Tree
till it seemed that I heard how it broke silence, best of wood, and spoke:
'It was long ago-I still remember . back to the holt where I was hewn down;
From my own stock I was struck away . dragged off by strong enemies
wrought into a roadside scaffold . They made me a hoist from wrongdoers.
The soldiers on their shoulders bore me . until on a hill-top they raised me
many enemies made me fast there . Then I saw, marching toward me,
Mankind's brave King . He came to climb upon me. I dared not break nor bend aside . against God's will, though the ground itself
shook at my feet. Then the young warrior, Almighty God, mounted the Cross, in the sight of many. He would set free mankind.
I shook when his arms embraced me, but I durst not bow to ground,
stoop to Earth's surface . Stand fast I must.
I was reared up, a rood . I held the King, Heaven's lord, I dared not bow . They drove me through with dark nails: on me are the wounds
Wide-mouthed hate dents. I durst not harm any of them.
They mocked us together . I was all wet with blood sprung from the Man's side . after he sent forth his soul. Many wry wierds I underwent . up on that hilltop; saw the Lord of Hosts stretched out stark . Darkness shrouded the King's corpse.
A shade went out wan under cloud pall . All creation wept,
keened the King's death . Christ was on the Cross.
But there quickly came from afar . many to the Prince .
All that I beheld had grown weak with grief . yet with glad will bent then
meek to those men's hands . yielded Almighty God.
They lifted Him down from the leaden pain . left me, the commanders
Standing in blood sweat . I was sorely smitten with sorrow
wounded with shafts . Limb-weary they laid him down.
They stood at his head . They looked on him there .
They set to contrive Him a tomb . within sight of his bane
carved it of bright stone . laid in it the Bringer of Victory
spent from the great struggle . They began to speak the grief song,
sad in the sinking light . then thought to set out homeward;
their most high Prince . they left to rest with scant retinue.
Yet we three, weeping, a good while . stood in that place after the song
had gone up from the captains' throats . Cold grew the corpse, fair soul house.
They felled us all . We crashed to ground, cruel Wierd,
and they delved for us a grave . The Lord's men learnt of it, His friends found me.
It was they who girt me with silver and gold. . .


B. Christina of Markyate, Richard Rolle, John Whiterig, William Flete, Walter Hilton, the Cloud of Unknowing Author, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe

Christina of Markyate (circa 1155)

A manuscript now in the British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius E.1, its edges charred in the Cotton Library fire in 1731, tells us in Latin the story of a remarkable young woman of the twelfth century, Theodora, who came to be named Christina, Anchoress, then Prioress, of Markyate. The account breaks off in the year 1142, but we know she was still living, 1155-6. The very fine St Albans Psalter, together with the Vita St Alexis, is also associated with Christina of Markyate, making its way sometime after the Dissolution of the Monasteries to the English Benedictine monks at Lambspring (whose Abbot was to fund the publication of the first edition of Julian of Norwich's Revelations), following that, to St Godeharskirche at Hildesheim.

Christina had made her Vow of Virginity as a child at St Albans and preserved that Vow with the famous reading of the story of St Cecilia's wedding on her own wedding night. Her Latin Vita retells the tales of St Cecilia, St Alexis and St Mary of Egypt, giving them a local habitation and a name, reliving the Thebaid in England. Following family and ecclesial abuse Christina fled to the inner cell of the hermit monk of St Albans, Roger. Roger was under obedience to the Abbot, though living where three angels led him from Windsor, on his return from Jerusalem, to Markyate, on the right of Watling Road from St Albans Abbey towards Dunstable, the Latin text very precisely tells us, - peopling England with angels. Likewise the Latin text presents its protagonists, Christina and Roger, forever speaking lines out of the Holy Book, lines from the liturgical psalms. Indeed it is the lines from psalms recited by Christina that dispel evil toads, who are devils, from her cell.

She tells Roger of her vision of Christ giving her his Cross to hold and Roger speaks amidst the Latin in Old English:

Soon after Burthred, her husband, arrives, releasing her from her Marriage Vows, and Roger decides to leave her his hermitage.

That decision is preceded by a vision, one that looks back to Gregory's Dialogues on Benedict and forward to Julian of Norwich and Catherine of Siena. In the Dialogue following that concerning Scholastica and Benedict in loving discourse upon heavenly matters all night, Benedict is seen one night in prayer, and at the same instant the whole world to shrink as into one beam of light. Here Christina sees the Queen of Heaven and all the angels.


But above all else she turned her eyes towards Roger's cell and chapel and she said From having been a willing prisoner in a cramped narrow cell, seated on stone, in silence and in illness / Pp. 102-105/, Christina now becomes officially its anchoress and soon prioress with a growing Benedictine community of nuns about her, closely associated with the Benedictine Abbey of St Albans, and advising its Abbot, Geoffrey. Their relationship is compared to that of Jerome and Paula. Her years of solitude, trial, temptation and illness had brought her wisdom, concerning herself and God.

Richard Rolle

ichard Rolle became a hermit, abandoning his university studies, after first asking his sister to procure for him his father's raincoat and an old dress of hers, for making his habit. She proclaimed he had gone mad. His prolific writings were to be copied out over and over again, his Latin works translated by the Carmelite Misyn, in turn doing this for Margaret Heslyngton. He has a strong presence in the Amherst manuscript. Often William Flete's Remedies against Temptations is falsely attributed to Richard Rolle.
BL MS Cotton Faustina B.vi.Part II

This is from Rolle's Meditations on the Passion (which we shall see reflected, too, in the Latin of John Whiterig):

'Thy body, sweet Jesus, is like a book all written with red ink; so is thy body all written with red wounds . . . grant me to read upon thy book, and somewhat to understand the sweetness of that writing and to have liking in studious abiding of that reading'

'More yit, swet Jhesu, thy body is lyke a boke written al with rede ynke; so is thy body al written with rede woundes. Now, swete Jhesu, graunt me to rede upon thy boke, and somwhate to undrestond the swetnes of that writynge, and to have likynge in studious abydynge of that redynge. And yeve me grace to conceyve somwhate of the perles love of Jhesu Crist, and to lerne by that ensample to love God agaynwarde as I shold. And, swete Jhesu, graunt me this study in euche tyde of the day, and let me upon this boke study at my matyns and hours and evynsonge and complyne, and evyre to be my meditacion, my speche, and my dalyaunce.'

And this is his 'Ghostly Gladness'

Gostly gladness in Ihesu, and ioy in hert, with swetnesse in soule of e sauour of heuyn in hope, is helth in to hele, and my lyf lendeth in loue, and lightsome vmlappeth my thoght. I dred nat at me may wirch wo, so myche I wot of wele. Hit ware no wonder if dethe ware dere, at I myght se hym at I seke; but not hit lengthes fro me, and me behoueth to lyve here til he wil me lese. List and lere of is lare, and e shal nat myslike. Loue maketh me to melle, and ioy maked me jangle. Loke ou lede i life in lightsomnes; and heuynesse, hold hit away. Sorynesse let nat sit with the, bot in gladnes in God euermore make thou thi glee.

Ghostly gladness in Jesus, and joy in heart, with sweetness in soul of the Saviour of Heaven in hope, is health into healing, and my life lends to love and lightly surrounds my thought. I fear not that I may work woe, so much I know of weal. It would be no wonder if death were dear, that I might see him whom I seek; but this is now distanced from me, and I must live here until he will loose me. Listen and learn of this teaching, and you shall not dislike it. Love makes me to speak, and joy makes me voluble. Look that you live your life lightly, and hold heaviness away. Let not sorrow sit with you, but in gladness in God ever more joy.

John Whiterig

here are strong similarities between the contemplations of an Oxford-educated Benedictine, likely named John Whiterig, who had become a hermit on to the Island of Farne, 1363, dying there in 1371, and Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love. When a student at Durham College (for he mentions being saved from drowning in Oxford's Cherwell River), he would have overlapped with Adam Easton, a student at Gloucester College, both colleges established for educating young Benedictines at Oxford. The Durham Benedictines first settled at Wearmouth and Jarrow in memory of St Benet Biscop and St Bede, then were invited in 1083 to Durham where they served at the shrine of St Cuthbert, who had died on Farne in 687. St Godric visited St Cuthbert's cell on Farne before becoming himself a hermit at Finchale (1065-1170). Lindisfarne, at some distance from the island of Farne, also continued as a monastic site until the Reformation, though like Whitby with gaps following Viking arrivals. Durham typically kept two monks on Farne, where they supported themselves by fishing and lived intense lives of prayer.

The Ruins of Lindisfarne

In the following, the Latin text derives from 'The Meditations of the Monk of Farne', ed. David Hugh Farmer, OSB, Studia Anselmiana 41 (1957), 141-245; the English translation from Christ Crucified and Other Meditations, ed. David Hugh Farmer, Trans. Dame Frideswide Sandemen, OSB (Leominster: Gracewing, 1994). The complete paperback book is available: UK, ISBN 0 85244 266 1; USA, ISBN 0 87061 202 6. Dame Frideswide Sandeman well represents the continuing tradition of Julian's association amongst contemplatives, for she is a Benedictine at Stanbrook Abbey, which was founded from Cambrai, where exiled English nuns, including several descendants of St Thomas More , under the guidance of Dom Augustine Baker , OSB, had studied, copied and contemplated upon such texts, including Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love, eventually preparing it for publication in 1670, with Dom Serenus Cressy, OSB, as ostensible editor. Benedictinism is about Eternity, more than time, a contemplative choral dialogue of men and women across centuries. P. Franklin Chambers drew attention to the similarities between the two contemplative writers, John Whiterig and Julian of Norwich, in his Juliana of Norwich: An Introductory Appreciation and an Interpretative Anthology (London: Gollancz, 1955). The manuscript transcribed is Durham B.iv.34, fols. 5v-75, and which is the only extant manuscript with this text.

David Hugh Farmer mentions the self-identification of the Hermit of Farne with St John the Evangelist on the Isle of Patmos, to whom he addresses a 'Meditacio Eiusdem ad Beatum Iohannem Ewangelistam'.

Hans Memling, 'St John Writing Revelation,' St John's Museum, Bruges
Reproduced with permission, Memlingmuseum, Stedelijke Musea, Brugge, Belgium

John Whiterig, while Hermit on Farne, also began to write a poem in praise of St Cuthbert, perhaps dying before it could be finished.

Parallel passages in Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love will be added more completely at a later date, noted here with 'Julian '. My profound thanks to Catherina Lindgren, Sweden, and to Iain Bruce, Oxford, for making these texts available. The passages that follow can be read by both contemplatives and scholars, and perhaps contemplatives and scholars could even change places with each other to the profit of both modes of thought and of being.



tudy then, mortal, to know Christ: to learn your Saviour. His body hanging on the cross, is a book, opened before your eyes. The words of this book are Christ's actions. as well as his suffering and passion, for everything that he did serves for our instruction. His wounds are the letters or characters, the five chief wounds being the five vowels and the others the consonants of your book . . .

However much else you may know, if you do not know this, I count all your learning for naught, because without knowledge of this book, both general and particular, it is impossible for you to be saved. So eat this book which in your mouth and understanding shall be sweet, but which will make your belly bitter, that is to say your memory, because he that increases knowledge increases sorrow too.

May this book never depart from my hands, O Lord, but let the law of the Lord be ever in my mouth, that I may know what is acceptable in thy sight.

isce ergo homo Christum, cognosce Saluatorem tuum, corpus etenim eius pendens in cruce uolumen expansum est coram oculis tuis; uerba uolumina huius sunt actus Christi, dolores et passiones eius. Omnis enim Christi accio nostra est instruccio, litere seu carateres uoluminis huius vulnera eius sunt, quorum quinque plage quinque sunt uocales, cetere uero consonantes libri tui . . .

Quidquid scis, si hoc nescis, nichil reputo quod scis; quia sine sciencia huius libri uniuersali uel particulari inpossibile est te saluari. Comede ergo uolumen hoc, quod dulce erit in ore tuo et intelectu, sed amaricabit uentrem tuum, id est memoriam, quia qui addit scienciam addit et dolorem . . .

Non recedat, Domine, liber uoluminis huius de manibus meis, sed ut lex Domini iugiter sit in ore meo, ut sciam quid acceptum sit in oculis tuis.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 53, fols. 29v-30


'Thy body, sweet Jesus, is like a book all written with red ink; so is thy body all written with red wounds . . . grant me to read upon thy book, and somewhat to understand the sweetness of that writing and to have liking in studious abiding of that reading'

'More yit, swet Jhesu, thy body is lyke a boke written al with rede ynke; so is thy body al written with rede woundes. Now, swete Jhesu, graunt me to rede upon thy boke, and somwhate to undrestond the swetnes of that writynge, and to have likynge in studious abydynge of that redynge. And yeve me grace to conceyve somwhate of the perles love of Jhesu Crist, and to lerne by that ensample to love God agaynwarde as I shold. And, swete Jhesu, graunt me this study in euche tyde of the day, and let me upon this boke study at my matyns and hours and evynsonge and complyne, and evyre to be my meditacion, my speche, and my dalyaunce.'

Richard Rolle, Meditations on the Passion

Vowels are the soul, consonants the bones and flesh of words.

Spinoza on Hebrew

On Jesus shadowed in Isaac:

Thou art Isaac, who didst make laughter for us by offering thyself to God in sacrifice upon a mount called Calvary. Thou art the ram, caught by the horns amidst the briers, and sacrificed in place of the son; for that which thou hadst assumed succumbed to death, but thou who didst assume it couldst not succumb. And yet thou art not two but one; according to thy human nature thou didst die and wast buried, according to thy divinity thou didst remain unhurt. And thus, O good Jesus, thou didst make laughter for us amidst tears and music for us in thine own lament.

Fourteenth-Century Icelandic Manuscript, Bible in Icelandic, Abraham sacrificing Abraham, stopped by angel grabbing his sword, ram caught by horns in thicket. rni Magnsson Institute, Reykjavik, Iceland.

u es Isaac, qui risum nobis fecisti, quando te ipsum tradidisti sacrificium Deo super unum moncium qui Calvarie dicitur. Tu es ille aries inter uepres herens cornibus, qui pro filio immolatur: quia quod assumpsisti morti succubuit, sed qui assumpsisti morti succumbere non potuisti; et non duo tamen sed unus, qui secundum humanum naturam mortuus es et sepultus, et secundum Diuinam mansisti illesus. Risum igitur, bone Ihesu, nobis in lacrimis suscitasti, et musicam in luctu tuo.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 2, fol. 7

Julian on Christ and laughter

On Jesus shadowed in Jacob

Thou hast beguiled the devil, through whose envy death entered into the world; and this thou didst do so wisely and fittingly, that life rose up from thence whence death had sprung, and he, who by a tree had gained his victory, was likewise by a tree overcome.

. . . delusisti diabolo, cuius inuidia more introiuit in orbem terrarum: et tam prudenter hoc fecisti et conuenienter, ut unde mors oriebatur inde uita resurgeret, et qui in ligno uicerat per lignum quoque uinceretur.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 3, fol. 7

On Jesus shadowed in Joseph

Thou shalt no longer be called Jacob, Lord, but Joseph shall be thy name, which is interpreted 'increase' or 'joining'. Either meaning is more fitting, because thou hast increased thy people exceedingly, and thou wast thyself joined to us, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, that that man could in very truth say unto thee: 'This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh'.

on vocaberis ultra Domine Iacob, sed Ioseph erit nomen tuum, quod augmentum siue apposicio interpretatur; qui utraque nominis interpretacio optime tibi conuenit, siue quia auxisti populum tuum uehementer, siue quia appositus es nobis quando Verbum caro factum est et habitauit in nobis, ita ut dicere ueraciter poterit homo tibi: Hoc nunc os ex ossibus meis, et caro de carne mea.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 3, fol. 7v

Remember us then, O Lord, when it shall be well with thee, for thou art our brother and our flesh; suggest to the Father that he should fill the sacks of thy brethren - fill them, I mean, with that wheat which, once it had fallen into the ground and died, brought forth much fruit, and filled every living creature with blessing. Thou who knowest no ill-will towards thy brethren, grant us our measure of wheat. For we have no other advocate who has been made unto us justice and sanctification, and whom the Father always hears for his reverence, but thee, good Lord, who art the propitiation for our sins. Remember then, O Lord, when thou standest in the sight of God, to speak well on our behalf. Ask thy Father to give me that wheat which with desire I have desired to eat before I die.

emento nostri ergo, Domine, dum bene tibi fuerit, quia caro et frater noster es, ut suggeras Patri two quatinus impleantur sacci fratrum tuorum illo dico frumento, quod dum semel cadens in terra mortuum fuit, multum fructum attulit et omne animal benediccione repleuit. Qui igitur nescis inuidere fratribus illius, tritici mensuram impertire nobis. Non enim alium habemus Aduocatum, qui nobis factus est iusticia et sanctificacio, quem semper audit Pater propter suam reuerenciam, quam te, bone Domine; et tu propiciacio es pro peccatis nostris. Recordare ergo, Domine, dum steteris in conspectu Dei, ut loquaris pro nobis bonum. Postula Patrem tuum ut michi donet triticum, quod desiderio desideraui manducare antequam morior.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 4, fol. 8

Julian on Christ as our brother

I wish for no other wheat but thee: give me thyself, and the rest take for thyself. For what have I in heaven, and what have I desired more than thee on earth? Whatever there is besides thee does not satisfy me without thee, nor hast thou any gift to bestow which I desire so much as thee. If therefore thou hast a mind to satisfy my desire with good things, give me nought but thyself. For my desire would not be pleasing in thy sight, if I longed for something other than thee more than thee.

liud nolo triticum nisi temetipsum: da michi ergo teipsum, et cetere tolle tibi. Quid enim michi est in celo, et quid plus quam te optaui super terram? Certe quicquid est preter te non michi sufficit preter te, nec est munus apud te quod tantum desidero sicut te. Si ergo uelis replere in bonis desiderium meum, nichil aliud michi des nisi temetipsum. Non enim coram te cupiditas mea placeret si aliquid aliud, quod tu non es, plus quam te optaret.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 5, fol. 8

od for your goodness give to me yourself. For you are enough to me. And I may ask nothing that is less, that may be full worthy of you. And if I ask anything that is less, ever I shall want, but only in you I have all. And these words 'God of your goodness' are very lovely to the soul and very close to touching our Lord's will. For his goodness comprehends all . . .

Julian of Norwich, Prayer, Showing of Love, Westminster Manuscript

On Jesus Shadowed in Moses

Thou art the brazen serpent hung upon the gibbet, a remedy to all believers against the bites of the devil. Thou art the lonely sparrow upon a house-top, and thou hast found a nest for thyself which is the Virgin's womb. Thou art the scapegoat, and hast carried our sins into the wilderness of eternal oblivion, so that as far as the east is from the west, so far should our iniquities be from us. Thou art the lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world . . .

u es ille serpens eneus suspensus in patibulo, in quem credentes  curantur omnes a morsu diabolico. Tu es enim ille passer in tecto solitarius, et nidum tibi inuenisti, qui Virginis est uterus. Tu es hircus emissarius, qui peccata nostra tulisti in desertum obliuionis perpetue, ut quantum distat ortus ab Occidente longe fierent a nobis iniquitates nostre. Tu es agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi . . .

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 6, fol. 8v

. . . all things work together for good; not only good works, but even sins. For example, one of the elect who is somwhat elated on account of an outstanding virtue is tempted by the devil to impurity and allowed to fall, so that the memory of so shameful a sin may for the future preserve him from pride, and give him rather, what is safer, a fellow-feeling for the lowly.

. . . omnia cooperantur in bonum, hiis qui secundum propositum uocati sunt sancti, non tantum bona opera sed eciam peccata. Verbi gracia: aliquis electus a diabolo temptatur per luxuriam, qui ex aliqua uirtute qua forte pollet aliqualem habet elacionem, permittitur cadere, ut quam uile se meminerit flagicium perpetrasse: de cetero numquam habeat materiam superbie, immo, quod est tucius, humilibus consentire.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 9, fol. 10

Julian, 'All Shall Be Well'

On Jesus Shadowed in Jonathan

Let us by no means bring to naught in our city the likeness of those whom we have made to our own image and likeness, but rather let thy wisdom prevail over the malice into which they have falled through their proud self-love, desiring to become like gods, knowing good and evil. Let it reach from thee, the end, for thou are both beginning and end, unto the end of all creation, that is to say man, who was created last of all, and let it dispose all things sweetly.

uos ad ymaginem et similitudinem nostram fecimus, eorum ymaginem in ciuitate nostra nullo modo ad nichilum redigamus; sed pocius uincat sapiencia tua maliciam eorum, in quam proprie superbiendo impegerunt, cupientes fore sicut dii, scientes bonum et malum. Attingat ergo a te fine, qui principium es et finis, usque ad finem tocius creature, hominem uidelicet qui ultimo creatus est, et disponat omnia suauiter.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 11, fol. 11

Julian, on God in the City of the Soul, on Wisdom

Thou art Christ, Son of the living God, who in obedience to the Father hast saved the world.

u es Cristus Filius Dei uiui, qui precepto Patris mundum saluasti.

Despenser Retable, Norwich Castle, Contemporary with Julian

I see thee, O good Jesus, nailed to the cross, crowned with thorns, given gall to drink, pierced with the lance, and for my sake . . . upon the gibbet of the cross.

uideo te, Ihesu bone, cruci conclauatum, spinis coronatum, felle potatum, lancea perforatum, et omnibus membris super crucis patibulum propter me diuaricatum.

. . . being thyself most beautiful, for me thou hast desired to be accounted as a leper and the last of men;

. . . cum speciosus sis, ut leprosus et uirorum nouissimus pr me reputari uoluisti;

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 13, fols. 11v-12v

In thy head I perceive wondrous multiplicity of suffering, for in all thy five senses thou didst feel indescribable Pain. Thou didst see thyself crucified and hanging between thieves, thy friends deserting thee, thine enemies gathering round, thy mother weeping, and the corpses of condemned criminals strewn round about; whatever met thy gaze was a source of pain and sorrow, of horror and dismay.

n capite tuo admirabilem penarum intueor multitudinem, quia per omnia organa quinque sensuum inena rrabilem sensisti dolorem. Te ipsum enim uidisti crucifixsum atque pendentem in medio latronum, amicos uidisti fugere, inimicos appropinquare, matrem uidisti flere, atque cadauera dampnatorum in circuitu iacere, et quicquid uisu traxisti pena fuit et dolor, tremor et horror.

Thou didst hear threats, murmuring, sarcasm and taunts from the bystanders; threats, when they cried out: 'Away with him, away with him; crucify him'; murmuring, when they said: 'He saved others, himself he cannot save', and some had said before that: 'He is good', while others said: 'No, he seduceth the multitude'. Sarcasm, when the soldiers, being their knees, greeted thee with: 'Hail, king of the Jews'; for sarcasm is a covert sort of mockery, when one is ironically called something by the scoffer, other than what he believes to be true. They believed him indeed to be a criminal rather than the king of the Jews, and yet they spoke the truth although with false intent. Thou didst hear taunts, when they said: 'Vah! Thou who dost destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it!'

udisti timorem et susurrium, subsannacionem et derisum ab hiis qui in circuitu stabant. Timorem, inquam, audisti quando dixerunt: Tolle, tolle, crucifige eum. Sussurium audisti quando dixerunt: Alios saluos fecit, seipsum non potest saluum facere, et ante quidam dixerunt quia bonus est, alii autem non, sed seducit turbas. Subsannacionem tunc audisti quando geniculantes dicebant Aue rex Iudeorum, quia subsannacio oculta est derisio, cum aliud uidelicet aliquis uocatur ironice quam a deridente fore creditur. Credebant enim eum pocius maleficum quam regem Iudaeorum, et tamen uerum dicebant quamuia menciendo. Audisti, Domine, derisum quando dicebant: Vah qui destruit templum et in tribus diebus reedificat.

Thou didst taste bitterness, O Lord, when they gave thee gall for thy food, and in thy thirst gave thee vinegar to drink. Thy nostrils, O Lord, breathed in the stench of the corrupting corpses of executed criminals lying round about. Thy sense of touch felt fierce pain in thy head, for the crown of thorns pierced it so grievously that thy blood flowed down in torrents through thy hair even to the ground. And so, good Lord, whatever thou didst look upon was terrible, whatever thou didst hear was horrible, whatever thou didst taste was bitter, whatever thou didst smell was putrid, and whatever thou didst touch was painful.

ustasti Domine amarum, quando in escam tuam dederunt fel et in siti tua potauerunt te aceto. Per nares, domine, traxisti fetorem ex cadaueribus putridis morte punitorum, que in circuitu iacebant. Per tactum uero in capite sensisti asperitatem, quia corona spinarum in tantum pungebat capud tuum ut cruorem habunde per crines in terram currere faceret. Bone ergo Domine, quicquid uidisti fuit terribile, quicquid audisti fuit horribile, quicquid gustasti fuit amarum, quicquid odorasti fuerat fetidum, et quicquid tetigisti fuit ualde asperum.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 14, fols. 12-12v

One thing, O good Jesus, I would know of thee; namely what reward will be bestowed on thee for all that thou hast suffered for us, since we have nothing that we have not received from thee. All gold is but as a grain of sand in thy sight, and silver would be accounted much in compensation for thy passion.

num a te, Ihesu bone, scire uellem, qua uidelicet mercede donaberis pro hiis que passus es pro nobis, cum nos nichil habeamus nisi quod a te accepimus. Omne enim aurum in conspectu tuo arena est exigua, et tamquam lutum estimabitur argentum in recompensacione tue passionis.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 15, fol. 12v

Julian on Passion

Speak, Lord, for thy servants listen, ready to receive the engrafted word which is able to save their souls. If thou desirest to know this plainly, call thy husband, that thou mayest understand aright. Let him who hath ears to hear, hear what Christ saith now to the churches.

oquere, Domine, quia audiunt serui tui, parati suscipere institum uerbum quod potest saluare animas eorum. Si hoc aperte scire desideras, uoca uirum tuum ut recte inteligas. Qui ergo habet aures audiendi, audiat quid modo ecclesiis Christus dicat.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 16, fols. 13-13v

I know well, O Lord, that thou desirest my whole self when thou askest for my heart, and I seek thy whole self when I beg for thee.

cio Domine, scio, totum me cupis cum cor meum petis, et totum te desidero cum te ipsum postulo.

John Whiterig,
Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 18, fols. 13v-14

Julian's Prayer

. . . even if he at times out of his goodness enters under our roof to abide with us. This he does especially according to that operation whereby he enables us to taste the first-fruits of the Spirit, by breaking for us a little of the bread which is himself, and saying: 'Taste and see that the Lord is sweet'.

 . . . et si aliquando propter suam bonitatem intret sub tectum nostrum ut maneat nobiscum, secundum illam maxime operacionem qua nos facit probare de primiciis Spiritus frangens nobis modicum de pane seipso et dicens: Gustate et uidete quoniam suauis est Dominus.


Thou canst, O good Jesus, most clearly be recognized in the breaking of this bread, which no one else breaks as thou dost. For thou dost visit the soul with such joy, and fill it with such ineffable delight and indescribable love, that for one who loves such favours the enjoyment of so gracious a visit from such a guest, were it only for the space of a day, would surpass all physical love and a whole world full of riches. This is not surprising, since it is a sort of beginning of eternal joys, a sign of divine predestination and pledge of eternal salvation; it is a grace rendering us pleasing to God, and bestows on us a new name, which no one knows save he who receives it, and apart from the sons and daughters of God none can have a share in it.

iquidissime, Ihesu bone, cognosci poteris in fraccione panis, quem nemo alius sic frangit sicut tu. Quam enim sic uisitas animam iubilo, et ineffabili uoluptate ac inenarrabili reples amore, ut delicias amanti delectabilius foret tanti hospitis tam iocunda frui uisitacione, saltem per diei medium, super omnem amorem mulierum et totum orbem terrarum diuiciis repletum. Nec mirum cum sit de eternis gaudiis inicium aliquod, argumentum Diuine predestinacionis, et arra salutis perpetue, gratia gratum faciens et nomen nouum, quod non nouit quis nisi qui accipit, cui non communicat alienus a filiis Dei et filiabus.

John Whiterig, Meditacio ad Crucifixum, Chapter 20, fol. 14v

This last passage is remniscent of Jan van Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone, on the little white stone with the new name which is given to us.

William Flete

William Flete's text, Remedies against Temptations, was known to and used by Julian of Norwich in her Showing of Love. A  miscellany at Cambrige University Library, containing this text, twice over, was likely compiled by the Benedictine nuns at Carrow Priory, Norwich, the dialect likewise identified by LALME as of Norfolk. Flete left Cambridge, where he had been a scholar, for Italy, July 1359, where he became spiritual director and executor to Catherine of Siena as an Augustinian Hermit at Lecceto. Eric (later Edmund) Colledge and Noel Chadwick published the text from Cambridge University Hh.I.ii, folios 100-116, in the difficult-to-obtain Archivio Italiano per la Storia della Piet 5 (Rome, 1968). Only one Latin manuscript ascribes the text to William Flete, other versions generally being attributed wrongly to Richard Rolle or Walter Hilton. The text influences Walter Hilton, Ladder of Perfection, Julian of Norwich, Showing of Love, and the anonymous Chastising of God's Children. The work needs greater exposure as an essential part of Julian of Norwich's contemplative library, and as a book which was also to be recalled by Thomas More when imprisoned and awaiting death in the Tower of London, and to be copied out by his great granddaughter Dame Bridget More, O.S.B., Cambrai and Paris. Compare it with John Whiterig's Contemplating the Crucifixion. Like Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, it is one of the 'golden books' of western civilization. These texts are medieval psychiatry. They are the cells of the understanding of one's self and God, phrases common to both Catherine of Siena and Julian of Norwich manuscripts. See Chaucer, 'Miller's Tale', The Canterbury Tales, I (A) 3421-3525, for John's consolation meted out to Nicholas who seems to have fallen into mental illness. In these texts, written for women, and here copied out by women, care is taken to use gender inclusive language, speaking, in the fourteenth and fifteenth century of 'men and women'. The letter (thorn) is the Middle English character for 'th', the letter 3 (yoch), the Middle English character for 'y, gh'. My thanks to Juliana Dresvina for making the text available to me for this transcription.

Catherine of Siena, 86K

Catherine of Siena, The Orcherd of Syon (Dialogo), London: Wynken de Worde, 1519

Here seweth a souereyn and a notable sentence to comforte a persone that is in temptacion.

Capitulum primum

ure merciful lord god chastyseth hese childirn and suffereth hem to ben tempted for many profytable skeles to here soule profi3te: and
erfore ther schulde non man ne woman ben hevy ne sory for no temptacion. For Seint Jame the apostele thecheth vs at we schulden haue wery gret joy quan we ben tempted with diuers temptacions. For as the goold is purged and pured be fier, and a knight in hard batail is proued good but if he suffre hym self to ben ouere come, right so is a man be temptacion preued for good but if he suffre hym self to ben ouere come, at is to seye but if he consente ther to be deliberacion.

Soothly, quan a man is scharply tempted, he may thanne hopen of gret vertu, for Seynt Austynn seyth
at e perfeccion of euery vertu is for a man to be meche troubled with temptaciones, for euery vertu is proued be his contrary. Our enmy the fend is besy day and nyght to tarye and trauaylen goode men and women with diuers temptaciones, in doutes of the feythe, and dredes of sauacion, and other many mo in divers maneris, and specially now in these dayes he is ful besy to dysese and to disseyve mannes soule; and erfore wysely reule 3ou to with stondyn the fend in eche fonndynge or vyolent temptyng of temptacion, and 3eve 3e no fors of alle his asawtes, of doughtes ne of dredis, ne of erroures ne of dyspit, ne of false lesynges ne of fantasies, ne of no maner trauaylynge of e fend. Whether ou se hem, here hem or thynk hem, take non heed of hem, for they ben materis of grete mede, and no synne in no wyse, whether they ben trauelous or angwyschiouse at comen of malice of e feend. or of yuel disposicion of mannes complexion. And erfore alle suche trauels men ou3ten nouth to charge, but suffren mekely and abyden pacyently, til god do remedye erto; and for as moche as they ben materis of gret mede, no man aughte not to stryuen er a3ens, ne merueyle of hem, ne seeke e cause, ne enk be quat skyle he is so traueiled. For e more at a man duelleth in sechynge and enkinge of errouris and in angwyschis, e more deepely he fallyth bothe in to errouris and in angwyschis.

erfore, for as moche as a mannes ought is often veyn and diuers, and non ende hathe, it oweth not to ben charged ne to be taken heed off, ne a man schulde not angre hym self with all, ne blame ne arette it to his owne defaute at he is so traueiled, for swiche trauailes ben peyneful and not synful, for as moche as ei been gretly ageyn his wil. Seynt Austyn seyth at euery synne lyeth in wilful wil, and quat at is a3ens a mannes wil it is not synne, and the holy doctour Ysodre, De Summo Bono, seyth at e fend tempteth a man no more an god 3eueth hym leue. erfore lete vs alwey haue a good wil to wilne weel and to do wel, and god wil kepe vs and 3eue vs the victorye, and e fend schal ben confounded. Feith and hope ben ground of al perfeccion and roote of al vertues: erfore oure old enemy e fend is ful besy with all his slyghtes to drawe e soule doun er fro. And it falleth somtyme at e fend tempteth and trauaileth a rightful soule so scharply at it is ouere leid with care and dreuen to dispeir; al at tyme, ou3 the soule perseyue it nought, it dwelleth stille in e dreed and in the loue of god, and all at trauaile is to his soule gret meede afore the sighte of god. For oure lord of his endles mercy aretti not to the soule that synne at him self suffereth the fend to wirche in the soule; but quan we be oure oure owne wikkid wil fully don a3ens e wil of god with deliberacion, anne synne we, but quan we ben drawen with wykkyd vilenous oughtes, and turmented with dispeir and thoughtes a3ens oure owne wil urgh fondynge or violent temptynge of e fend, we sufferen eyne but we don no synne. And 3et e sely soules knowliche is hid be at turment.


Santa Francesca Romana's cell in the corridor painted with the visions she had of evil spirits, from which her guardian angel, given her by her dead son, Evangelista, saved her

Capitulum secundum

ut often the temptynge of
e fend, at maketh e soule to erre in feyth and to fantasye in dispeir, semeth gret synne to a manis soule, and is not so. For all holy doctoures seyn at feith and hope ben vertues of a mannes wil, wherfore who so wolde rightfully beleue, he is in right beleue aforn god, and who so wold trustely hope, he is in trusty hope aforn god, ough he be neuere so moch trauailed with weerful thoughtes or doughteful. e apostle Seynt Poule seyth at in a mannes wil is e beleue of rightwysnes, of which wordes seyth e glose at al only in mannes wil, which may not be constreyened, lieth bothe meede and gylt. at is to seyn, a man aforn god hath neuere meede ne gylt for no dede, but only of tho dedes at ben don wilfully.

But sumtyme mannes
oughtes and womennes ben so trauailed and ouerleid that they knowen nought here owne wil; and ough it so be, thei auten not to care, for good dedes schewen alwey a good wil, and euele dedes yuel wil. Werefore a man at doth in dede the seruice of god, at man hath a good wil to god, ou3 his trauailouse herte deme the contrarye. Also er schulde no creature demen his euencristen for no wers fantasyes or douteful, but if thei haue a very opyn knowynge of at inge for whiche thei schulen deme hem. Fore er schulde non demen yuel of man ne woman for a thynge at is oncerteyn or in weere or doute; and right so it is yuel and not skylfully don ony resonable creature to deme his owne soule in swich plyght, at it were parted fro god for only wersum fantasies or douteful.

Capitulum tercium

nd if it so be
at 3e have consentid and fallen in ony temptacion, beth sory, and crieth god mercy erof, and beth not discomforted erfore. enke wel on the grete mercy of god, how he forgaf Dauid his grete synnes, and Petir and Maudeleyn, and not only hem but also alle tho at haue be or mow be and schulen ben contrite for here synnes and cryen god mercy.

erfore, sustir, fle to hym at al mercy is jnne, and aske mercy, and 3e shuln haue mercy and forgeuenesse of alle 3oure synnes; and make you louly to e sacramentis of holy cherche, and anne 3e owen to beleuen trustily at ei ben forgouen, and 3e receyued into grace of god. For god seyth hym self be his profete Ezechiel at quan a synful man sorowth for his synnes he wele neuere more haue mynde er of. And if a man may parceyue in his herte no verry sorwe, and ou3 he enke quan he biddeth his bedes or cryeth to god for mercy at he doth al a3ens herte, here fore schulde he not deme hym self graceles; for who so wold haue very sorwe for his synnes, in e doom of god he hath very sorwe for his synnes, and who so wolde in herte crye god mercy veryly, he crye god mercy veryly. For as I haue sayd afore, god taketh heed to mannes wil, and not aftir his trauelous fantasyes.

It is good
at a man take non heed of all swiche trauelous fantasyes and steringes at comen on this wyse, for god heydeth fro hem the knowleche for grete skeles, to here profy3te of soule. Suyche passyons is no synne, but mater of grace and of grete merite, and so enke alwey. And if it be so that the temptacyons cesen not, but waxen alwey more and more, be not aferd, but sey somtyme among, in e worchepe of god and in dispite of e fend, 3oure crede, and knowlyche 3oure beleue and 3oure hope be mouthe, and enk on e wordes of Seynt Poule, at seyth: Knowleche of mouth is don to helthe of soule. And thei mow not ben disseyued be the fendes wyles at with a good avysement bothe and wil withstondeth e feend; for was er neuere man disseyued of e feend withouten assent of his owne wil, and with suche a wil that is ful avysed and quemeful, with very assent of herte, for a wersum or douteful trauelous wil putteth not awey a man fro god.

Capitulum quartum

erfore er schulde no man kare ne ben hevy at he is so traueiled more an another. Sister, alwey quan I speke of man in is wrytinge, take it bothe for man and woman, for so it is ment in alle such writinges, for al is mankende. And forthermore as touchynge 3oure troubles, enke 3e in alle 3oure diseses qwat troubles and diseses goddis seruantis have suffred, what peynes and quat tormentis ei haue had here in erthe in many sondre maneris, and 3e schal fynden cause to suffre. Leo e pope seith at it falleth somtime at goode and righteful soules ben sterd be e fend, and somtyme be sterynge of complexion to angres, troubles, taryenges and diseses of dredes, at it semeth to hem her lif a torment, and here deth an ease, in so moche at somtyme for disese ei begynnen to dispeire both of here lyf of body and of here soule. And thei wenen at ei ben forsaken of god, whiche asayeth and proveth his chosen frendes be temptacyons and angres. But these fondynges or vyolent temptynge and angwischis ben but purgynges and preuynges of the soule, for as I sette and seyde at e begynnynge of is wrytynge, right as e feir purgeth gold, and a knight also is preuyd good and hardy be bataile, right so temptacions and trubles preueth and pureth e rightful man. This is preued wel be Thobie, for the angel Raphael seide to Thobie thus: For as moche as ou were righteful to god it was nedeful at temptacion schulde preuen thi wil.

It is weel knowen
at seknesse falleth to a man aftir the disposicion of his complexion, and Leo the pope seith at the feend aspyeth in euery man in what wyse he is disposed in complexion, and aftir that dispocicion he tempeteth a man in his complexion; for ther as he fyndeth a man ful of humors of malencolie, he tempteth hym most with gostly temptacions. But ese, if thei wiln be meded of god, schape hem to pacyens, and seye thei with Job: Sethen we haue receyued of god benefetis, why schulde we not receyue and suffre disese. And ink on the disese at oure lord Jesu Crist suffred hym self here on erthe, and suffred his blissed modir to haue also, and enk weel also that 3e may not in is frel world ben so free as aungel at is conformed in grace; but while 3oure body and soule beth togydre in this lyf, 3e most receyuve troubles as well as esys. And enke not at god hath forsake 3ou, bur mekely abydeth the comfort of god, and dredles quan it veryly nedeth, 3e schul not failen er of. For trusteth weel erto, at quan 3e felen 3ou in suche plyghte, at grace is veryly with you.

But some men quan thei haue dredes of sauacion, or ben tempted to dispeir, or if thei haue ony vycious gostly sterynge or grete felynges of here owne frelte, thei wenen anon
at thei haue synned in the holy gost; and anne fend putteth in hem at it may neuere ben forgouen, and erfore thei may not be saued. us speketh e fend with jnne hem. and afrayeth som sely creaturis at ei wenen that thei schuln gon out of here mynde; but 3e at ben us tempted, answere e fend a3en at he is fals and a lyer: it his nature to ben soo. For the synne of e holy gost as clerkes seyn is infenyte with owten repentaunce and at is quan a man wilfully be deliberacion wole not ben repentaunt ne aske of god mercy ne for3eueness of his synnes, ne wole not be turned, but wilfully departeth hym from the godnesse of god, and in this wretchednesse abydeth wilfully with ful consentynge of wil, and leueth and deyeth er inne. He at dooth us synneth in e holy gost, which may not ben for3euen here ne elles where, for he wolde not truste in e goodnesse of e holy gost and aske for3eueness of his synnes; and a man at wil no mercy aske may no mercy haue. This is infenyte, with outen repentaunce.

But ough a man or woman haue or feele alle
e vycious sterynges and as many mo as ony herte kan
enke, a3ens here owne free wil, and alwey quan reson cometh to hem, thei ben myspayed with al, and fleen alwey to goddys mercy, it is to hem but preuynge and clensynge of synnes, ou3 thei been often in the nyght and in the day now vp, now doun, as wrasteleris ben. And ou3 3e haue ony tyme vtturly fallen in ony synne gostly or fleshly, and lyen er inne wilfuly be deliberacion and ful consent of herte, anne beeth soory and aske god for3euenesse, and euere more enke fully at e goodnesse of e holy gost surmounteth al synnes at euere were donn and euere schul be don. For ou3 oo man hade do alle the synnes at euere were don and euer schullen be do, ou3t and seyd in to e day of jugement, and he were wery contrite and asked god for3euenesse, and mekely lowned hym to e sacramentis of holy cherche he schuld haue mercy and for3euenesse of all his synnes.

e mercy of god is so gret at it passeth alle his werkes, and ou3 sometyme 3e heren speke or reede in bokes sharpe wordes and harde sentencys, comforteth 3oure self, and enke weel at alle swiche harde wordis ben seyd and wretyn to chasteise synneres, and to with drawe hem from wikkednesse, and also to purge and pure goddis specials, as is the metal in furneys, and of hem god wil make his hous. And wete it weel, many wordis at semen ful harde ben ment ful tendirly in good vndirstondyng; and ou some wordes ben ment harde as e pleyn text spekyth, 3e shul not taken hem to 3ou ward, but enketh in comforte of 3oure self at alle harde sentens moun ben fulfillyd in the Jewis and Sarasyns. For the cristen at wiln ben contrite, and truste to goddis mercy, or haue a wil at it were soo, thei schuln ascape alle perels, so at ei schul not perishe bt be saued; and e Jewes and Sarasyns in o perils schuln perische to perdicion, for ei haue not the strenghte of baptym e precyous oyntement of Crystes passyon, at schulde to here soules 3eue lyf and heele.

is we haue gret exaumple and figure in holy writ, where at Moyses ledde e children of Israel, goddis people, ouere e Rede See. Moyses went aforn hem and smot the watir with his 3erd, and erwith the watir departyd, and the childern of Israel wentyn ouere saf and sound, and thei of Egypt perisheden and drounchen in the watir. Be Moyses I vndirstonde oure lord Jesu Crist, and be the 3erde that departed the water at e children of Israel wern not perisched. I vnderstonde his passyon, and be the children of Israel cristen peple.

A man
at stondeth in disese, he is holden to seken alle e weyes he may to comforte hym self. Oure lord Jesu Crist cam from his fadris bosom in to is see of tribulacions and temptacions to be oure ledere: he goth beforn vs, and with his precyous passyon he smyteth awey the pereles of our tribulacions and temptacions, so at we schal not perische, but it schal brynge vs to safte, at is euere lastynge blisse; and erfore synge we to hym angkynges and herynges or preysynges as the childern of Israel deden.

ough a cristen man were neuere so wikkyd ne so synful, and stood in the same sentens of hardest wordes at ben wretyn, 3et he schulde trusten to goddis mercy, for if he wolde forsaken his synnes and 3iue hym to good liff, he schulde haue grace and for3euenesse, and the scharpe wordes of dampnacion schulde turne hym to mercy and sauacion. For us seyth oure lord god in holy wryt be his profete Jeremye: ough I make gret thretes, I schal repente me of my wordes, if my people wil repenten hem of here synnes.

O behold the gret goodness off oure lord, and how pyte constreyneth hym, wurscheped and
anked be he euere. He is so good and so benynge and so ful of mercy to the repentauntis at he chaungeth his sentensis fro scharpe vengeance in to for3euenesse, and of e peynes 3eueth aleageances. He seyth also be his profete Ezechiel: I schal for3eten e synnes of ony man at with wery contricion wil drawen hym to goode: and is great mercy schewed our lord openly be the cyte of Niniue, and also be king Ezechie. erfore dispeir no man for synne, but alwey trust fully to goddis mercy at so weel kan redresse alle our myscheues, and turne alle oure woo to wele and our sorwe in to joye.

ou glorious myghteful god, at us merueilously werkest in thy creaturis, quat i mercy is brod and large at maketh e to chaunge thi sentence, which is thi wil and thi word. Blessed be ou good lord, in all thyn holy vertues, for thou kanst, mayst and wilt turne and chaunge alle oure infirmitee to our beste if we wele vs self flee to i goodnesse and asken mercy.

But god forbede
at ony man schulde ben the more bolde or necgligent to synne wilfully or wytyngly be deliberacion for oure lord is so mercyful; for I dar sauely seyn at euery creaunt soule and curteys wil be the more loth to offenden hym. But 3e that ben tempted a3ens 3oure wil, and wolde not be 3oure good will for alle e world displesen god wilfully, but ben yled and taryed with peynful oughtes, beeth not afered of e fend ne of his affrayers. He is foule discomfited quan he seeth a man or a woman whiche he temptetch is not aferd of hym. Somtyme e fend cometh and temptetch a soule fiersly like a dragon. Somtyme he assaileth a soule rampandly lyke a lyon. But and a man strenghte hym self sadly in e goodnesse of god, and arme hym in his precyous passyon, an hundyryd feendis, how euere thei come, schul haue nomore poure ouere hym than haue as many flyes or knattis. And therfore strenght 3ou alle in god, and eschewe 3e not and beeth not abaysched to strengthe and arme 3ou in hym ou3 3e bee synful; for he seyth hym self in the gospel that he cam for e synful. Also in a nother place of e gospel he seyth that he cam for mercy and not for vengeance. He cam, e good lord, to be oure scheld and oure strengthe, and so lete vs homly with a meke herte take hym.

And if 3e fele 3et ony dredis be ymagynacion or temptacion, or for wordes
at 3e haue herde or haue rede in bokes, be e whiche 3e dowte of sauacion, anne enketh on tho wordes at crist hym self taughte to a man at doutyd and asked of oure lord who schulde be saued, for hym oughte hym selfe it was ful hard to eschewe all e poyntes at leden to perdicion; and oure lord seyd to hym: Crede in deum patrem omnipotentem. Beleve, seyd oure lord Jesus, at god e fader is al myghtyful, as who seyth, there is no ing impossible to god, but alle is possible to hym at alle synnes may for 3eue and alle wronges redresse, and bryng soules to his blisse. And erfore enk wel at his myght may do alle inge, and his wisdom kan, and his goodnesse wole, and trusteth fully erto he wole saue 3ou and brynge 3ou to his euere lastynge joye, quan he seeth beste tyme for 3ou. For he hath bought 3ou erto ful dere with his precious blod and peyneful deth; and I dare safly seye at er is non so synful a caytef at is cristen or wolde be cristen is day on erthe, and ough he were for synne in the seyght of god dampnable, and in the sighte of alle creaturis also, 3ha and were juged to be dampned be alle scripture, and he wolde for sake his synne and be contrite and asken god for3eueness, he schuld haue mercy and for3euenesse of hym, and if he stode soo or hadde a good wil to stonde soo in e tyme of deth, he schulde be saued.

The myghte and
e mercy of god is so moche and so gret at it surmounteth alle his lawes and judgementis and alle scripture; and so oure lord Jesu scheweth vs be an exaumple in the gospell of e woman at was founden in avouterye. By Moyses law, at was ordeyned of god, shuld haue be stoned, but e myght and e wisdam of god schewed to e Faryseyes here owne synnes at accused here, so at ei myght not for schame demen here, but stolen awey oute of e temple, and oure lord Jesu demed here not, but he of his gracious mercy for 3af  here alle here synnes. And erfore be a man or a woman neuere so synful, and ou3 thei fele neuere so many bodyly and gostly synnes al day rysynge and styringe with inne hem, thei schulden neuere the rathere dispeire of e mercy of god ne be discumforted, for er as meche synne is, ere is meche mercy and grace, and the goodnesse of god knowe, at is to seye in the for3euenesse of synne, quan a man turneth hym from synne and is very contrite.

But god schilde, as I seyde afore,
at ony creature be the more recheles or bold to synne wilfully; but for e mercy of god is so large, we owen to ben the more besy and diligent to loue and plese god, for at he is so good and so ful of mercy. God werketh lyke a good lyche, for a lyche suffereth somtyme the dede flesh to growe on hym at he hath in cure, but aftirward he taketh awey the dede flesh and maketh the qwyk flesh to growe, and so he heleth e man. Right so doth oure lord, at is euere ful of benyngnyte, and is makere of heuene and erthe, blissed and anked mote he be. He suffreth somtyme a man or a woman to falle in dedly synne, but aftirward of his gret pyte and mercy he putteth to his hond of grace, and hem at weren dedly wounded oru3 synne, he heleth hem and washcheth away here synnes in e welle of his mercy, and maketh in hem the quik vertues to growe, wher oru3 he 3eueth hem lyfe.

Oure lord god is also like a gardener, for a gardener suffereth somtyme wikked wedys to growen in his gardeynn, and whanne the erthe
oru3 reyn is moyste and tendre, he taketh awey the wedys bothe rote and rynde. And in the same wyse doth oure good lord. He suffereth somtyme in his gardeyn, whiche is manis soule, wikked wedis of synne growe, but quan the hert wexeth tendre be meknesse, and moyste oru3 contricion, oure benynge lord taketh awey anne alle e synnes bothe rote and rynde, and planteth and setteth in his gardeyn goode herbes and frutes of good vertues, and wattereth hem with e dewe of his blissed goodnesse, where oru3 thei schal come to euere lastynge blisse, joye and reste.

Now sethen
at oure lord god is so good, so piteuouse and so mercyful to synneris at wilfully haue offende hym in gret horryble synnes, ful moche more, as 3e may weel wete, he is mercyable and hath pyte and compassyion of a soule at is a3ens his wil taried with trubles and temptacion, but oonly at god suffereth hem to be so wexed for helthe of here soules.

erfore, suster, be not douteful ne hevy, for it schal neuere turne 3ou to perell, but it schal turne 3ou to gret profyte, for ther by 3e schal wynne the crowne of worchip and e palme of victorie, whiche schal ben to 3ou gret worchip and glorie in the blisse of heuene ou3 e ank at 3e schuln haue of oure lord god for 3oure with stondynge of such temptacions and for your pacyens if 3e taken it mekely, and to e fend it schal turne to schame and confusion. And ou3 it seme 3ou somtyme at 3e feele a discord betwyn god and 3ou, be not erfore discomfortid, for us seyth oure lord be e profyte Ysaie: A lytel while I haue for seken the, and in a moment I haue hyd my face fro the, but I schal gadere the a3en in many mercyes, and I schal haue mercy on the, and that mercy schal euere last.

Capitulum quintum

erfore grutche no man a3ens the will of god, ne merueile not of ese maner of temtacions, for the more a man or woman is tempted in this maner or in ony other maner a3ens here wil, and thei with stonden it, at is to seye not with a quemeful wil consentynge erto, but mekely suffereth it, e more thei ben sadded in good vertues and profyten in the syght of god, ou3 it be hyd fro hem.

But parauenture quan 3e stonden scharply tempted, 3e
enken at 3e ben to dulle and to necgligent in goostly exercyse, for oru3 weiknesse of 3oure spirit at is for traueiled 3e seme at 3e haue in wil consentyd to swyche temptacions as 3en ben tempted with. But it is not soo, for 3e schuln vnderstonde at euery man or woman hath too willis, a good wil and an yuel wil. e yuel wil cometh of the sensualite, the whiche is euere dounward enclynynge to synne, and e good wil cometh of graces, e whiche is alwey vpward enclynynge to alle goodnesse. And whiles at 3e haue alwey whanne resoun cometh to 3ou, a good wil to de weel, and ben myspayd with all yuele oughtes and sterynges at 3e feele and wolde neuere feele ne don other anne in the wil of god, ou3 suche wikked oughtes and sterynges come among in to 3oure herte, and be gret violens of scharpnesse of trouble and disese 3e ben enclyned to the wil of e sensualite,  3et do 3e it not ne 3e consente not erto, but it is e sensulaite at dooth it in 3ou, and 3oure good wil stondeth stille in 3ou onbroke, ou3 the cloudes of yuel oughtes stoppe awey 3oure syghte fro e felynge of youre good wil, as 3e may se be exaumple of the sonne. The sonne schyneth alwey and is in his due place, as weel quan we seen it noght as whanne we seen it; but the reyny cloudes stoppen away our syghte, at we may not seen it in suche tyme as reyny cloudes ben. And so it fareth be oure good wil, which stondeth alwey be goddis grace vnbroken in 3ou, ou3 3e fele it noght for trauaileuse oughtes that benymeth e sighte of youre knowleche.

O yet goddis childern at scharply ben vexed with tribulacions and temptacions, comforte 3e 3ou in 3oure benynge fadir,
at seyth to 3ou in holy writ be his profete: My childern, ou3 3e go in the feir, drede 3ou not, for the flaume schal not dere 3ou, as who seyth, 3e my chyldern at ben cristen peple and in good wil to do weel, ou3 3e go in the feer of tribulacion and temptacion, drede 3e not, for it schal be arettid to you for no perel of soule, but oro3 my goodnesse and the merites of my passyon, it schal turne to 3ou to gret helpe and profyte of soule.

e maner of alle these temptacions, and the remedies er a3ens, scheweth oure sauyour to his apostle Seynt Petir in e gospel wher he seyth us: Petir, Sathanas asketh at he myghte sifte the as who sifteth whete. In as muche at Sathanas asked this, it schewed weel at e fend had no myght to tempte e seruaunt of god in suche troubles but be his suffraunce; and at was openly schewed in the fondyngis or temptyngis of Job, and that he wolde haue syfted hym as who sifted whete. Taketh kepe: e more at whete is cast fro syde to syde in a seve, the more clene it is; right so, e more at a man or woman is traveiled with the fend a3ens here wil, e more clene thei ben aforn god, and here be we lerned openly at god suffereth not his seruauntes to be tempted but for here beste, be so at ei schape hem to withsonte the fend as goddis derlyngis schulden do.

But for as myche as no man may with stonde
e fend withouten the helpe of god, erfore of his helpe he maketh vs sekir and seyth thus: I haue preyed for the, at i feyth faile e nouth. And there at a man fyndeth in his herte a good paciens redily to suffren all diseses makely for goddis sake and for his loue, not takynge heed of alle the fendis temptacions and traueles at man oru3 the myght and e grace of Crist berith doun e fend, and he hym self preued ther with. And to suche men oure lord seyth is: ou at art thus turned to god in pacyence, but if ou helpe to counceil and conferme thi brethern and teche hem to suffre as the grace of god hath tau3t ee, ellis ou art onkende. Salamon seyth at oo brother is a myght a3ens the fend, and erfore thei that ben sorweful and scharply traueiled, quan thei haue herd the good counceil of her brother or suster, thei owen to taken comfort to hem and sey these wordes with Dauid: O ou my soule, why art ou so drery, and why troubelest ow me soo, truste fully to good god at is ful of mercy, and to hym I knowleche at hym I schal serue, be I neuere so myche traueiled ne trubled.

And suche men
at us ben traueiled and taried with scharpe peynful oughtes and sterynges, thei owen to taken the councel and techynge of wys men at ben goode and discrete, and be no weye at thei folwe here owne wielde fantasyes, for at wold vttirly schende hem. And in the mene tyme of suche troubles, ei musten 3eu hem to som good li3t occupacion, and somtyme to redynge and syngynge the seruyse of god, and to other good dedes, and euere among preyenge to god of helpe, and at he sende hem strenghte and pacyence. And ou3 thei fynde in hem self no maner of swetnesse ne sauour oto goddis seruise, 3et thei owten not to care ne ben heuy erfore, for it is jnow to helthe of mannes soule at he wolde haue reste and swetnesse in the seruise of god. For in the doom of god, the wil stondeth as for dede, and so seyth holy wryt, which may not ben ontrewe, at every good wil is acceptid as for dede. Seynt Bernard seyth at somtyme god with draweth deuocion fro preyer to make the preyer the more medful. God wold be serued somtyme in bitternesse and somtyme in swetnesse, and both to we musten mekely receyue. And Aristotil seyth a resoun, at with the more and hardere trauueile at vertues ben goten, e bettir it arn and e more ank wurthy. But the soule is more trauailed with heuynesse of herte and vnlykynge to serue god anne whanne a man is in good lykynge and ful swetnesse and reste of soule, wherfore dredeles it is the more medeful. It was no maystrye for Seynt Petir, quan he saw oure lord Iesu on the hyl in blisse to seye: Lord, it is good vs to dwelle here; but aftirward quan he saw hym amongis his fomen tormentid, a womans word mad hym afered and soo sore in dreed at he seyde he know hym not. But aftir at, quan he was confermed oru3 the myght of the holy gost, er was no turment in erthe, ne kynge ne prince, at myghte make hym aferd. Right soo, if a man be in swetnesse and reste of herte, it is no maystrye to seruen god, but it is no maystrye quan a man is traveiled and oute of reste to seruen hym. But qwat trauayle that a creature haue in the seruyce of god, if a mannes wil be good, and wolde at it were weel, e more mede he schal haue. And if a man wolde suffre pacyently til he aftir trauailes be strengthed of the holy gost, er schulde no fend in hell haue myght to affere hym not gretly. And ou3 it be longe or he feele comfort, lete hym not drede, for oure mercyful sauyour woteth wel what tyme comforte is most nedeful to hym, and thanne fayleth he nought. And erfore lete hym trusten weryly at it is al for his beste, ou3 at he knowe not goddis abydynge.

Somtyme the feelynge of swetnesse and of comfort is with drawen from a man, for ellis he schulde waxen proud and presumptuouse, or necgligent and recheles in vertues; and
erfore it is withdrawen for the beste to helthe of his soule. And also hardenesse and scharpnesse sent to a creature is ful profitable to the soule, for Seynt Augustyn seyth us in techynge of vs alle, at e manere of god is, at quan a man is feble and newly turned to hym, to 3eue hym pees and swetnesse, and soo to stable hym in his lawe and loue; but quan he is stabled and sadly set and grounded in loue, an suffereth he hym to be al to trauailed for twoo skylles. Oon is to preue hym, and to crowne hym e more hy3e in the blisse of heuene, and another is to purge hym of his synnes in this world that he in no wyse be longe from hym in e tother worlde.

Capitulum sextum

nd for as myche as many men kunne not in tyme of temptacion ne woln not see it, but ben sory and dredeful of complexion,
erfore to alle suche men thre thynges ben nedeful. The firste is at thei be not myche alone. The secunde is at thei enke not ne seche no ing deeply, but fully reule hem, as I seyde afore, be som good discret persone; and ou3 it come in to here herte and mynde at ei schuld be lore or in perell, ou3 ei wold beholde here counsell, thei owen to taken non heed to suyche ou3tis and sterynges, ne charge hem. Take thei non heed of suyche ymagynacions or sotyl conseytes, for it may neuere turne hem to dampnacion, the counseil of wise men at is 3ouen to hem for here sauacion. God seyth in the gospel at if e menynge be good of a manis purpose, e dede is good. The thredde remedy is this, at for as myche as the fend traueileth faste to make a man dredful and sory, anne at he to e worchip of god and in troust of his helpe, and to schame and confusion of the fend and right in dispyct of hym, at he strengthe hym self to be glad and mery, ou3 it be a3ens herte. And drede no ing the fendis malice, for e lasse gladnesse that a man fyndeth in his herte, e more mede he is worthy, so at he strengthe hym self to be glad and mery to the worchep of god and dispitte of e fend. For holy writ seyth at e aposteles 3eden awey mery and glad quan the Jewes, goddis enemyes, hadden schamfully beten hem.

Also a man oweth to be glad, quan the fend tempteth and turmenteth hym, for three skelles. The first is
at he is turmentid of goddis enemy. The secunde for in suche tormentis and temptynge the fend scheweth at he is ful his enemy and erfore oweth euery man to be glad at goddis enemy is his enemy. And the threde is for be suche tormentis a man is not only relesed of the peynes of purgatory, but also it maketh hym to wynne heuene blisse to his meede. Jesu seyth in the gospel: Blissed be thei at sufferent persecucion for rightwysnesse for here is e kyngdom of heuene.

Capitulum septimum

lso oure olde enemy the fend and serpent is often tymes aboute to begyle mannes soule in many sondre maneris. He cometh somtme vndir
e colour of goodnesse to disseyuen hem at fayn wold don wel; and specyally of the thingis I wele speke of.

How the Blessed Francesca met the Evil One disguised as her Patron, Saint Onofrio

On is this,
at ou3 a creature, man or woman, be neuere soo wel ne so ofte schreuen and in reste of soule, e fend maketh hem to beleve at ei ben not wel schreuen, and alle he doth to brynge e soule to heuynesse. And somtyme e fend be to myche trauayle and noi3aunce maketh a man fully to for3ete som thing at he wolde seye, and anne he maketh e soule oute of reste tyl he bee eftesones shreuen; and is doth he not for he wolde at a man were often shreuen, but fully to entarye hym, and to maken hym beleue at he were out of grace and blyndet for synne, and erfore he myghte not maken hym self clene.

The secunde gyle vndir colour of goodnesse
at the fend tempteth with is is. Whanne somme men or women haue be custom good sterynges and deuoute ou3tes and felyngis of meditacions and of contemplacions, of suyche parauenture as ben solatarye, he wele anne tempte hem to lothe here dyuyne seruyse that thei ben bounden in, or werysom, and make hem to ben heuy and weersum to do it, for he steryth hem to wene at it were best and more plesynge to god to folwe here owne werkynges with inne foorth of inkynges and felynges, anne for to sey at ei ben bounden to, at at some tyme thei ben so trauailed and troubled to and fro at thei weten neuere whiche syde is best to take. And is 3e may weel wete is e fend, for alwey he cometh with taryengis, or with false plesaunce, and is doth he not for thei schulde occupye hem highely in contemplacion or in goode meditacions, but for he wolde lette and disturbe hem erfro, and also he wolde maken hem vttirly to leue e seruyse of god at ei ben bounden to.

The thredde colour of gyle
at he tempteth with is is. Whanne a man or a woman 3eueth hym to honest solace, to strenghte hem self with a3ens the fendis tormentis in comfort of his owne soule, anne the fende wele stere hym to haue consciens erof, and putteth in here hertis at alle suyche disportys is but synne and vanyte. And somtyme he wole bryng to here mynde herfore don synnes, for to tary hem; this he doth for to drawe here hertis to heuynesse, for thei schulde no comforte haue, but al care and trouble, and so to tempte hem to dispeir and to bitter ou3tis. But the remedyes of these temptacions ben ese.

As vnto
e firste, at e feend tempeth a man or woman, ou3 thei ben neuere soo wel schrewen hem semeth at ei ben not wel schrewen, but alwey dou3ten at it is not aright doon, or some is for3ete which thei seen nought; but take ei right non heed of suyche outis, no more an ei wolden of a gnatte that fleeth before here face, but enken fully it is e feend to lette and distrouble pees in here soule. And if so bee at a man somtyme oru3 trauelouse ou3tes for3eteth som ing of charge at he wolde haue seyde, anne schape a tyme and be confessed er of; and if he may not ly3tly haue his confessour, enke at he wolde ben confessed erof quan he may haue his goostly fadir, and in the mene tyme crye god mercy, and aske hym for3euenesse of all his traspace, and troust fully it is for3ouen. For a man is not so redy to asken for3euenesse and mercy, at 3et oure mercyful lord of his grete goodnesse is more redy to 3eue it hym.

And as touching the secunde temptacion,
at the feend wolde lette and forbarre a man fro his dyuyne seruyse at he is bounden to, and tempteth hym vtterly to leue it, is at he be anne e more diligent to seye it weel and deuoutly, with grete reuerence and right good avysement or attendaunce, and if he seye his seruyse alone, he may quan deuoute ou3tes comen, or loue with swetnesse vysyteth hym, or some hi3 visitacioun of the holy gost toucheth hym, he may stynte of his seruyse for the tyme, and attend to at, and aftir at seye forth so at his seruyse be not lefte undoon ne vnseyde. And if he doth us, it schal ben but lytel lettynge to his due seruyse, but he schal fnde comfort and eese erinne; and ou3 it lette hym at oo tyme, it schal supporte hym another tyme.

e thredde temptacion is is. Whanne a man in comendable tyme 3eueth hym to honest companye and solace in strenghtynge of his soule, the feend putteth in his mende and maketh hym beleue at it is synne and perel to hym; and not oonly is, but also his olde synnes afoore don he putteth to his mende for to tarye hym. But alle 3e at ben taryed us of the feend with ese ou3tes and sterynges, beleue hem not ne charge hem not, for alle ing at is treuly groundyd in god, it pleseth god and not displeseth. erfore goddis seruaunties musten alwey grounden hem weel in god, and don be e counseil of holy cherche, and if thei don so, ei schuln neuere be disseyued. And in as myche as all ing hath tyme in goddis seruyse, a man au3te to tende to no ing, be it neuere so good, at schulde lette him fro goddis seruyse.

And also a man
at is traueiled and taketh hym to solace in dispyt of e fend, he ou3te not at tyme tende to at thing at wolde tarye hym, but he oweth to schape hym a tyme to crye god mercy and aske for3euenesse of al his trespas and synne. anne ou3te he to taken to mynde at e firste mynde was but a taryenge of e feend; for he at is endeles good schuldd rather stere a man to enke on his synne in helpe of his lyf anne in taryenge of his lyf and of his soule.

Capitulum octauum

e feend is ful besy to men and women of tendir conscyens, to brynge in hem so myche errour at thei wene ing that is no synne or parauenture is weel done semethe to hem synne, and of a venyal synne maketh it to seme greuouse as dedly synne, and of ing of no charge maketh it to seme as thou3 it were don in dipiste of god or of his seyntis.  And somme the enemy the fend tarieth so gretly at what euere thei doo or leue to do, thei ben so byten in conscyens at ei kan no whilte to gydir haue reste in hem self; and alle this the fend doth oru3 fals dreed and blynd conscyens. But e remedy of is temptacion and of all other is at ei gouerne hem be here confessour, or be some good discret persone, and rule hem fully aftir hym, and not aftir here owne blynde mysruled consciens.  For suyche a man as is us taryed, if he folwe his owne conscyens, it were a gret pryde at he wolde holden his owne wit betyr than the trewe loore of holy cherche. erfore a man at wolde don soo muste nedes fallen in to gret errouris of e feend and in to his handys; and if suyche an errour of conscyence made be the enemy seye on to 3ou at other men feele not at at 3e feele, and erfore thei kunne not deme ne 3eue 3ou good remedye erto, and erfore 3e muste folwe 3oure owne fantasyes, or ellis 3e enken that 3e schuln be lore, take 3e non heed of this ou3t and steryng, ne of no suyche fantasyes at comen in to 3oure herte, ne charge hem not. But putteth awey all suyche errouris of consciens as faste as thei comen to mende; lete him lightly go, and if ony seye at ei may not putten hem awey, thei seye not right, for who so is in wil to do awey a fals conscience and errour, to fore god it is alwey, ou3 er leue in hym neuere so many fals domes. And therfore ou3 a man haue neuere so many teryenges a3ens his wil in his consciens, he dare not drede hym, for dredeles god schal euere comforte hym or he deye; and e lengere that he suffereth suyche taryengis, the more is he worthy in the syghte of god.

Capitulum nonum

ou3 the feend putte in 3ou ony ou3t of dispeir, or maketh 3ou to enke at in the our of death 3e schuln haue suych yuele ou3tes and sterynges, and anne 3e ben but lore, beleue hem not ne charge it not, but answere hym us, at 3e haue put fully 3oure trouste in oure lord god, and erfore ou3 he tempte 3ou with ony temptacions, ou3 the myght of god and merites of his passyon it schal be no perel to 3ou of soule, but to hym it schal turne to schame and confusion. And if ony creature, man or woman, seie to 3ou ony bytynge woord or wordes of discomfort, taketh it mekely and paciently, and enketh at perauenture it is don oru3 temptacion of the fend to distroblen 3ou and lette 3ou, or it is a chastysyng of god for som word or for dede at 3e haue don or seyd. For oure lord god dooth lyke a lovynge modir: a louynge modir that is wys and weel tau3t, sche wole at here childern be vertuouse and weel norisched, and if sche may knowe only of hem with a defau3te, sche wole 3eue hem a knocke on the heed, and if thei don a gret defua3te, sche wole 3eue hem a buffet vndir the chekes and if thei don a gretere trespas, sche wole bylasche hem scharpely. us doth god, that is oure louynge fadir at al vertue and goodnesse cometh fro. He wole at his specyal and his chosen chyldern ben vertuouse and weel tau3t in soule, and if thei don a defaute, he wel knocke hem on the heed with suyche wordis of displeasaunce and of discomfort. And if thei doo a gret defaute he wole 3eue hem a buffet with gret scharpenesse in sondry maneris, aftir at the sundry defautys ben; and if thei don grettere trespaces, he chastyseth hem ful scharpely with gret duresses. And alle is oure good lord dooth for a specyall loue, for he hym self seyth at tho at he loueth he chastyseth. O treuly, and we token good keep of these wordes, we wolden be gladdere of his chastysyngis an of alle the worldes cherysynges; and if we deden soo, alle diseses and trybulacions schulden turne to comfort and joye.

But it is ful hard in tyme of scharpenesse, quan a soule stondeth naked fro alle goostly and bodyly cimfort, to take and fynde joye in disese. But
ei at stonden in suyche inward duresse, thei must seke, in all weyes of discomfort, how ei mowe comfort hem self in god, and enke alwey at it is for here beste. And trusteth fully at god sent neuere chastysyng, at he ne sent comfort, be long tyme or be schort, where oru3 he brengheth hem oute of here disese. e profete seyth: Many ben the trivulacions of rightful men, and of all o god schal deyueren hem.

ou3 3e fele somtyme steryingis of dispeir, or of vnkendely and onreuerent ou3tes, comforte 3ou euere more in the goodnesse of god, and in the peyneful passyon at his manhod suffered. And for as moche as e feend tempteth many to desperacions and dreedis of sauacion, and specyally goddis seruauntes, and also worldly men and women the feend tempteth hem to dispeir quan ei beholden here greuous synnes, and the goostly lyueris he tempteth to dispeir be inputtynge of false dreedys and streyt conscience, and be deep ymagynacion of predestinacion, and in moo sondry wyses than I kan telle, and ful graciously god hath comforted and sent comfort to many that with dispeir hath be trauayled,  and amongis al tho at god hath comforted and broute oute of at errour. I am steryd to telle of oone of hem, which was a squier at hi3te John Homeleis.


his squier
at I haue named had ben a synful man, and soo at e laste oru3 the beholdynge of his synnes and be the feendes temptacions, he feel in to dispeir, soo deeply and so greuously that he had ny lost his mynde; and thus he was traueiled fourty dayes, at he myght neyther slepe ne ete, but wasted awey and was in poynt to spille hym self. But good god, at is ful of pyte and mercy, wolde not haue hym lore, and on a day, as he in ful grete sorwe walked in a wode alone, an aungel came to hym in fourme of a man, and saluted the squier ful goodly, and talked with hym. anne seyde the aungel to hym: ou semest, seyde he, a man ful of heuynesse and sorwe. Telle me, I prey the, what causeth thi disese. Nay seyde the squier, it is not the to telle. 3is, seyde the aungel, ou wost neuere how weel I may helpen the and thi disese remeue. A man schulde, sayde e aungel, alwey in discomfort and heuynesse discouere his hert to somme creature at myght ese hym, for oru3 good counsel, he myght, seyde e aungel, recouere bothe to comfort and to heele, or in sum wyse haue good remedy. e squier answarde e aungel a3en, and seyde at he wiste weel that he cowde not ne myght not helpe hym, and therfore he wolde no3te telle hym. This squier wende alwey at this aungel hadde ben an erthely man, and he dreede at if he had tolde hym, he wolde a3enward haue seyde som word at schulde vtterly haue disesed hym; and quan the aungel si3 at he wolde be no weye tellen hym, he seyde to hym in this wyse: Now, seide he, sethen ou wilt not telle me thi greuaunce. I schal tellen it the. ou art, seyde the aungel, in dispeir of thi sauacion, but truste fully ou schalt be saued, for the mercy of god is so gret at it passeth alle his werkes and surmounte all synnes. It is sooth, sayde the squier, I wot weel at god is mercyful, but he is rightful also, and his rightwysnesse must nedys punysche synne, and therfore I drede his rightwysnesse in iugementes. The aungel answered hym a3en, and tolde hym many exaumples, how god ful graciously is mercyful to synners: but this squier of whom I telle was soo deeply fallen in heuynesse and in dreed that he kowde take no comfort of thing that he seyde. anne spake the aungel to hym and seyde: O, seyde he, quat at ou art hard of beleue; but wilt ou haue an open schewynge at ou schalt be saued, seyde e aungel to the squier. I haue here thre dises at I wole throwe, and ou schalt throwe, and who so hath most on e dises, sekirly he schal be saued. A, seyde the squier, how myght I in rowynge of dyses be in certeyn of my sauacion; and helde it but a iape. The aungel rewe the dyses, and had on euery dee vpward syxe; and he had anne the squier rowe the dyse. O, seyde he, certis at dar I not, for I wot wel, ou3 I caste the dise, mo anne ou hast cast schulde I not haue and if I hadde lesse an ou hast, I schulde vtterly falle in discomfort. But soo e aungel spak, at at e last the squier threwe the disc, and in the rowynge be goddis myght euery dee claf atweyne, and on eche dee was sixe, and so he hadde the double at e aungel hadde. And as he merueiled vp on this, e aungel vanyschid oute of his syght. o wiste he wel it was aungel sent of god to brynge hym oute of his wo. And anne he cau3te so gret comfort and ioye in e mercy of god, and in e goodnesse of his grace, at alle his sorwes and dredis wenten clene awey, and he becam anne goddis seruaunt, and was a blissed leuere, and quan he schulde departen fro is world, he diuysed at whanne he was deed, ere schulde be leid up on hym a ston wreten with ese wordes aboute at folwen: Here lieth John Homeleis, at of e mercy of god may seyn a largeis. I knew a wurchipful persoone that was in the same abbey here in Ingelond there as he lyeth, at redde up on hym the wordes aforn seyde.

anne sethen oure mercyful lord god, anked and worchepid mote he bee, sent us goodly comfort to is man, at was a worldly synful man, and receyued hym to his grace, and brou3te hym oute of dispeir, er schulde no man ben heuy ne discomforted, ou3 he fele temptacions of dispeir, for hardily god wole comforten hym whanne he seeth tyme. And ou3 he sende not to a man comfort anon, it is for to eerne hym the more mede. And enke alwey, quan 3e feele ony temptacions bodyly or goostly, that 3e stonden in the blissynge of holy cherche, for holy write seyth: Blyssed be thei at suffren temptacions, for whanne ei ben preuyd, thei schuln taken e crowne of lyfe, the which god hath behi3t to them that louen hym.

Capitulum decimum

 3e childern of holy cherche,
at haue for saken the world for helthe of youre soules, and principally to plesen god, comfort 3e in in hym whom 3e haue chosen to loue and serue, for he wole ben to 3ou ful free and large, as 3e may see be exaumple of Petir in the gospel, where at he asked oure lord Iesu what reward he schulde haue at had forsaken alle ing to folwe hym; and oure lord answered hym and seyde that he schulde iugen with hym e twelue tribis or kynredis of Israel at e day of jugement. And ferthermore oure lord seyde also to hym at all, not only on or too or somme, but he seyde at alle o that forsaken for his loue kyn or frendes or possessiones, at is to seyn hous or lond or ony other worldly good, e schuln hauen here in is lyfe an hundirt fold mede and blisse with outen ende.

erfore, suster, caste awey all fals dredis that wolde disturbele and lette 3ou fro loue and hope in god, for no ing pleseth so moche e feend as to see soules with drawen hem fro goddis loue, and erfore he bysyeth hym er abouten day and nyght, to lette loue and disturble pees in mannes soule. And on the other syde, no thyng counfoundyth hym soo myche as dooth e loue of god, to see a man to sette al his desyr erto. But enk not now as in discomfort, allas, I feele not that loue, I haue not at loue at is soo good, and so be youre owne ymaginacion falle in discomfort and heuynesse of herte, and enk and deeme 3oure self lore; but put awey alle heuynesse and discomfort, and enk weel it cometh of the enemye, e feend, to entarye 3ou. Haueth a good wil to loue and to plese god, and prenteth wel ese woordis in 3oure herte, at a good wil is acceptid as for deede in e sight of god, and comforte 3ow alwey in e name of Jesu. For Jesu is as moche to seie as sauyour: enketh weel er vp on, and haue it weel in mynde, and his passyon and also his holy vertues, for no ing schal put awey so soone alle ese veyne dredis and temptacions and alle maner of fantasyes as forto haue weel in mynde e name of Jesus, his passion and his glorious vertues.

ese thre been scheld and spere, armure and strenghthe to dryue adoun the feend, be he neuere soo fersly aboute man or woman; and specyally to enk on his gracyous vertues, how god e fadir in hym is al dyuyne nature, in whom is al myght, to whom no thing is impossible but alle possibilite: and god the sone is al wisdam, that all ing made and all ing gouerneth: and god the holy gost is al loue and bounte, at in a moment of tyme all synnes may for 3eve. Not thre goddis by oo god in thre persones, thre persones and oo god onl, in whom is al blisse and al glorye. He is so fair and bright schynynge that all aungell wondern of his bewte; his glorious blisful presence feedeth and ful filleth alle e court of heuene with merthe and melodye that is euere lastynge. In hym is al benignyte, kepynge vs fro vengeaunce, in hym is al grace and gentilnesse, curtesie, freedam and largynesse, pite, mercy and for3euenesse, joye, sweetnesse and endeles helte. Suster, he is in alle oure tribulacions, quan we clepen on to hym, oure comfort, oure strength, oure helpe and oure soules helthe. Suster, this is 3oure spouse, whom 3e desyre to loue and plese. The gretnesse of his vertues, ne the multitude of his joyes whyche spredeth in to al e court of heuene to hem at ben er inne, may non herte thenke, ne tunge telle the blisfulnesse of his presense may not be seyd ne wreten.

Joyeth therfore in oure lord Crist Jesu, for he hath bouth 3ou ful deere, to brynge 3ou to
at blisse, and seith som tyme to hym with a meke herte: O holy god in whom is al goodnesse, whos pite and mercy made e to descende fro thin hy3e trone, doun in to is weylynge world, the valey of woo and wepyng, and heere to taken oure kynde, and in at kynde ou peyne and passion and cruel charp deeth, to brynge oure soules on to thy kyngdom. ou mercyful lord, for 3eue me all e synnes at I haue don, thou3t and seyd. Glorious trinite, sende me clennesse of herte and purete of soule, restore me with holy vertues and strengthe me with i myght, at I mowe alwey with stonden synne and all temptacions. O good lord, comforte me with thin holy gost, and  fulfille me with perfi3t grace, at I may fro hens forth lyue vertuosly and loue e with all my myght, with alle myn herte and with alle myn soule, and neuere to offende the, but euere to folwe thi plesyngis in wil, word, thou3t and dede. Graunte me this, god infinite at eternaly schal dure. Amen.

Suster, if 3e don thus, I hope it schal doon you ese, and
ou3 3e fynde no maner of comfort ne swetnesse ne deuocion quan 3e wolde, be not erfore discomforted, but suffereth mekely. Many ben at stryuen with hem self as ou3 thei wolde haue swetnesse and deuocion be maistrie, and I sey 3ou, so wole it not come, but be mekenesse it wil sunnere be had, and at is us, at a man holde hym self vnwurthy to haue ony swetnesse or comfort, and offere hym lowly to the wil of god, and put his wil fully in goddis wil. A man schulde not desyre to haue swetnesse and deuocion for his owne comfort and plesaunce, but purely for this entent, only to plese god, and to folwe his wil; and erfore if we putte alwey oure wil in his wil, it suffiseth on to vs, whether we haue it or noon.

Somme also wenen, but if thei felen swetness and deuocion,
at thei ben out of grace; but certeynly somme at felen in hym self no swetnesse ne deuocion, ei ben in more grace than somme at felen swetnesse and deuocion, and haue many comfortys, for betir were mekenesse with oute feelyngis than felyngis with outen mekenesse. erfore, suster, suffere mekely and pacyently what euere falleth to 3ou, and alwey haue a good wil to do as most were to e plesynge of god: and quan ony discomfort cometh in 3oure herte be ymaginacions or be temptacions of the enemy, haueth tho wordes in 3oure mynde at often ben seyd in this writynge, at a good wil schal be accepted as for dede. For and 3e desire to loue and plese god and to be vertuouse, it is take and accepted as for dede of oure lord god. If 3e folwe it to 3oure myght alwey quan reson cometh to 3ou with desirful wil to don weel, and if 3e haue felt comfort and swetnesse, ou3 3e fele the same temptacions aftir as 3e deden afore, beth not erfore discomfortid, ne enketh thus, allas, it is comen a3en, it wole neuere awey fro me, and so falle in discomfort be 3oure owne ymaginacions. But comforte 3ow in god, and beth glad that e feend hath envye on to 3ou, for whiles e lyf is in the body he wil entarye alwey goddis seruauntis, for he is ful set a3ens hem, with al malice and velanye to disese hem in diuers maneris in al at he kan and may. Saynt Austyn seyth: Many maneris ben e temptacion be e whiche e wrong eddere the feend, enemye to al mankende, tormenteth mannes soule, and Seynt Gregory seith at er is no ing in which we owne to be so seker of god as for to haue taryenges and tormentis. And if a man seith that bodily tormentis ben medeful and not gostly tormentis, he seyth nou3t right, for dredeles e gostly tormentis ben werse, more peyneful and more a3ens wil an ben the bodily toormentis, and in so moche they ben e more medeful. And erfore at man dooth dishonour to god at seith with a ful vysement at e fend may in this world more tormenten an god may meden. Wherfore treuly er is no thing more medeful ne more goodly ne more charitable an for to strengthe and comfort the soule at e fend tarieth, for who so comforteth hem that ben desolate, e lord of comforte, Jesu Crist oure lord god, wole comforte hem endelesly in the blisse of heuene. The which lord, ouru3 e myght and merite of his peyneful passion and his precyous blood, felle down the poure of e fend, and graunte cristen soules victorie ouere the feend, to the worchip of al e trinite, fader and sone and holy gost, at lyueth and regneth with owten ende. Amen.

Here I haue endid of temptacions the remedie. God for his goodnesse on me sinful haue mercy. Amen. Mercy god, mercy god, mercy god on me. Amen, me sinful haue mercy. Amen.

    Mercy god, mercy god, mercy god on me. Amen
    Gloria laus honorque deo patri. Amen.
    Et sic explicit liber iste.

Giovanni di Paolo, St Catherine Receiving Stigmata, Santa Cristina, Pisa, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Walter Hilton

From the Scale of Perfection Book II.21-23, transcription from British Library, Harley 6579, fols. 84-89, translation by John P.H. Clark:

                                                                                                          ' I. am no3t .I. haf
   no3t. nou3t .I. aske ne covete bot e luf of ihu '
                                                                                              British Library, Harley 6579, fol. 88v.

21. An introduction as to how a soul should behave in purpose and in practice if it wants to come to this reforming, through the example of a pilgrim going to Jerusalem; and the two kinds of humility.

evyreles for u couete for to haue sm maw writynge by e whilke u mi3tes e ga nei3en to t reformynge & schal say e as me inki bi e grace of oure lord ihu e shortest & e rediest helpe at I knowe in is wirkynge. And how t schal be .I. schal telle e by exaumple of a good pilgrym vpon is wise: er was a man at wold gon to ierusalem & for he knewe not e weye he come to an o man t he hopyt knewe e way & asked wheer he mi3te come to at cite & at o man seide to him at he mi3te not come eder withoute grete disese & mikil trauale for e wey is longe & periles and grete . of efes & robbers & many oer / [fol. 84v] lettynges at ben t fallen to a man wi goyng . & also are mony saie weies . as it semi ledand ederward . Bot men alday are slayn & dispoiled & mown not comyn to t place t ei covete. Neveeles er is .o. wey e whilke whoso taki hit & holdi it . he wolde undirtake . y he schude come to e cite of ierusalem ne schulde now les his lif ne be slayn . ne dye for  defaute: ne schulde often be robbed & yuel betyn . & suffren unkel disese in e goyngr & bot he schulde ay him his lif safe. an sai e pilgrim if it be so at I may have my lif safe & come to t place t I coveite: .I. charge not what meschef .I. suffre in e goynge & erfore say me what u  wil & sothly .I. bihote for to don afor e: t o answered & saye us . lo .I. sait e in e ri3t wey. is is e wey. & if u kepe e lesyinge t  .I. kemis e.

Nevertheless, because you desire to have some kind of practice by which you could approach that reforming more quickly, I shall tell you by the grace of our Lord Jesus what seems to me the shortest and promptest aid that I know in this work. And how that shall be I will tell you in this manner, through the example of a good pilgrim.

There was a man wanting to go to Jerusalem, and because he did not know the way he came to another man who he thought knew it and asked whether he could reach that city. The other man told him he could not get there without great hardship and labour, for the way is long and the perils are great, with thieves and robbers as well as many other difficulties to beset a man on his journey; also there are many different ways seeming to lead in that direction, yet people are being killed and robbed daily and cannot come to the place they desire. However, there is one way, and he would undertake that anyone who takes and keeps to it shall come to the city of Jerusalem, and never lose his life or be slain or die of want. He would often be robbed and badly beaten and suffer great distress on his journey, but his life would always be safe. Then the pilgrim said: 'If it is true that I can keep my life and come to the place I desire, I do not care what trouble I suffer on the journey, and therefore tell me what you will, and I promise faithfully to do as you say'. The other man answered and said this: 'See, I am setting you on the right road. This is the way, and be sure to keep the instructions I give you'.

What so you heres or sees or felis t schulde lette e in i wey abide not wi it wilfully: tary not for it restfully. behold it not. like it not. drede it not. bot ay fo for in i wey & thinke t u wantes be  at Jerusalem'. For t u covetes  t u desires. & no3t elles bot t. & if man robbe e . & dispoile e bete e scorne e . & dispise e: ferse not agayn if u wilt hav i lif. Bot holde e wt e harme t u has & go for . as no3t were. t u take no more harms. And also if man wil tary e wi tales & fede e wt lesynges. for to drawe e to miris & for to lese i pilgrimage: make def ere & answer not agayn & sey not elles bot t u wuldes be at Jerusalem. And if men proffer e 3iftes & wil make e riche wt werdly gode tente not to hem: inke ay on Jerusalem. And if u wil holde is wey & ben as I hafe sayde: promise & take i lif t u schal not be slayn. bot ou schal come to t place t u/ [fol. 85] coveites:

'Whatever you hear, see or feel that would hinder you on your way, do not willingly stay with it, and do not tarry for it, taking rest; do not look at it, do not take pleasure in it, and do not fear it; but always go forth on your way and think that you want to be in Jerusalem. For that is what you long for and what you desire, and nothing else but that; and if men rob you, strip you, beat you, scorn you and despise you, do not fight back if you want to have your life, but bear the hurt that you have and go on as if it were nothing, lest you come to more harm. In the same way, if men want to delay you with stories and feed you with lies, trying to draw you to pleasures and make you leave your pilgrimage, turn a deaf ear and do not reply, saying only that you want to be in Jerusalem. And if men offer you gifts and seek to enrich you with worldly goods, pay no attention to them, always think of Jerusalem. And if you will keep on this way and do as I have said, I promise you your life - that you shall not be slain but come to the place that you desire'.

Softly to oure propositions. Jerusalem is as mikel for to seyen as si3t of pes & bitokne contemplacion in perfit luf of god. ffor contemplacion is not ellis bot a si3t of ihu whilk is vrey pes. an if u coveit for to com to is blessednes of vrey pes & ben a traw pilgrym to Jerusalemward: aw3 it be so t .I. wase neuer are: neverles as ferforth as .I. kan .I. schal setes e in e waye edward: 

According to our spiritual propositions, Jerusalem is as much as to say sight of peace and stands for contemplation in perfect love of God, for contemplation is nothing other than a sight of Jesus, who is true peace. Then if you long to come to this blessed sight of true peace and to be a faithful pilgrim toward Jerusalem - even though it should be that I was never there, yet as far as I can - I shall set you in the way that leads toward it.

e bygynynge of e hi3e wey in e whilk u schalt gon is reformyng in fei & in e lawes of holy kirke as .I. hafe saide beforn. for trust sikirly aw3 u haue synned hard here bifore . if u be now reformed bi e sacrament of penaunce after e lawe of hilikirke t u art in e ri3t wais. Now an sien u in e siker weye: if u wile spedyn in i goyngs & make gode jurndres: e behovi to holden ese two onges often in i mynde. meknes & luf. t is '.I. am no3t . .I. have no3t .I. coveit no3t. but on' u sschalt hafe e menynge of ese woedes in in entent & in habite of i soule lastendly: aw3 u hafe no3t specially ose wordes ay formed in i ou3tes: for t nedi not. meknes sei .I. am no3t .I. hafe no3t. lufe sai .I. coveit n3t bot on. & t is ihu: ese two strenges wel festned wt e mynde of Jerusalem maki gode acorde in e harpe of e soule. When ei be craftely touchid wt e fingres of resoun: for e lower u smytes up on t in e hi3er sonni t oer: e lesse u felist t u art or t u hast of i self ruw3 meknes: e more u coveites for to hau of ihu in desire of luf: .I. mene not only of t meknes t a soule feli in e si3t of his own syn or holines & wrecchednes of is lif: or of e worines of his euencristen: for aw3 is meknes be sofast & medicinable: noreles it is twistous & fleschly as in segnses./[fol. 85v] not clene ne softe ne lofli. So .I. mene also is meknes beynge t e soule feli rw3 grace in si3t & beholdyng of e endeles beynge & e wondeful godnes of ihu & if you mowe not seen it 3it wt i gostly i3e: t ou trows it: ffor rw3 si3t of his beynge eier in ful fei or in felyng u schalt holden i self not only as e most wrecche t is. but also as no3t in substaunce of i soule: aw3 u hever don syn: And t is lufly meknes: for in     of ihu t is sofatch al: u art ri3t no3t: And also t u inke t u hast ri3t no3t: So tht as a vessel t standi ay come as no3t Were  in as of i self: for doo

at u hast e luf of ihu. u hast ri3t no3t. ffor wt at precious licour only will i soule be fulfilled. & wt none oer

The beginning of the highway along which you shall go is reforming in faith, grounded humbly in the faith and in the laws of holy church, as I have said before, for trust assuredly that although you have formerly sinned, you are on the right road, if you are now reformed by the sacrament of penance according to the law of holy church. Now since you are on the sure way, if you want to speed on your travels and make a good journey each day, you should hold these two things often in your mind - humility and love. That is: I am nothing; I have nothing; I desire only one thing. You shall have the meaning of these words continually in your intention, and in the habit of your soul, even though you may not always have their particular form in your thought, for that is not necessary. Humility says, I am nothing; I have nothing. Love says, I desire only one thing, and that is Jesus. These two strings, well-fastened with mindfulness of Jesus, make good harmony on the harp of the soul when they are skillfully touched with the finger of reason. For the lower you strike upon the one, the higher sounds the other; the less you feel that you are or that you have of yourself through humility, the more you long to have of Jesus in the desire of love. I do not mean only that humility that a soul feels as it looks at its own sin or at the frailties and wretchedness of this life, or at the worthiness of his fellow Christians, for although this humility is true and medicinal, it is comparatively rough and carnal, not pure or soft or lovely. But I mean also this humility that the soul feels though grace in seeing and considering the infinite being and wonderful goodness of Jesus, and if you cannot see it yet with your spiritual eye, that you believe in it, for through the sight of his being - either in full faith or in feeling - you shall regard yourself not only as the greatest wretch that there is, but also as nothing in the substance of your soul, even if you had never committed sin. And that is lovely humility, for in comparison with Jesus who is in truth All, you are but nothing. In the same way think that you have nothing, but are like a vessel that always stands empty, as if with nothing in it of your own for however many good works you do, outwardly or inwardly, you have nothing at all until you have - and feel that you have - the love of Jesus. For your soul can be filled only with that precious liquor, and with nothing else; and because that thing alone is so precious and so valuable, regard anything you have and do as nothing to rest in, without the sight and the love of Jesus. Throw it all behind you and forget it, so that you can have what is best of all.

Just as a true pilgrim going to Jerusalem leaves behind him home and land, wife and children, and makes himself poor and bare of all that he has in order to travel light and without hindrance, so if you want to be a spiritual pilgrim you are to make yourself naked of all that you have - both good works and bad - and throw them all behind you, and thus become so poor in your own feeling that there can be no deed of your own that you want to lean upon for rst, but you are always desiring more grace of love, and always seeking the spiritual presence of Jesus. If you do so, you shall then set in your heart, wholly and fully, your desre to be at Jerusalem, and in no other place but there; and that is, you shall set in your heart, wholly and fully, your will to have nothing but the love of Jesus and the spiritual sight of him, as far as he wishes to show himself. It is for that alone you are made and redeemed, and that is your beginning and your end, your joy and your glory. Therefore, whatsoever you have, however rich you may be in other works of body and spirit, unless you have that, and know and feel that you have it, consider that you have nothing at all. Print this statement well on the intention of your heart, and hold firmly to it, and it will save you from all the perils of your journey, so that you will never perish. It shall save you from thieves and robbers (which is what I call unclean spirits), so that though they strip you and beat you with diverse temptations, your life shall always be saved; and in brief if you guard it as I shall tell you, you shall within a short time escape all perils and distresses and come to the city of Jerusalem.

Now that you are on the road and know the name of the place you are bound for, begin to go forward on your journey. Your going forth is nothing else but the work of the spirit - and of the body as well, when there is need for it - which you are to use with discretion in the following way. Whatever work it is that you should do, in body or in spirit, according to the degree and state in which you stand, it if helps this grace-given desire that you have to love Jesus, making it more whole, easier and more powerful for all virtues and all goodness, that is the work I consider the best, whether it be prayer, meditation, reading or working; and as long as that taks most strenghtens your heart and your working; and as long as that task most strengthens your heart and you will for the love of Jesus and draws your affection and your thought farthest from worldly vanities, it is good to use it. And if it happens that the savour of it becomes less through use, and you feel that you savour anothing kind of work more, and you feel more grace in another, take another and leave that one. For though your desire and the yearning of your heat for Jesus should always be unchangeable, nevertheless the spiritual practices that you are to use in prayer or the meditation to feed and nourish you desire may be diverse, and may well be changed according to the way you feel disposed to appply your own heart, through grace.

For it goes with works and desire as it does with a fire and sticks. The more sticks are laid on a fire, the greater is the flame, and so the more varied the spiritual work that anyone has in mind for keeping his desire whole, the more powerful and ardent shall be his desire for God. Therefore notice carefully what work you best know how to do and what most helps you to keep whole this desire for Jesus (if you are free, and are not bound except under the common law), and do that. Do not bind yourself unchangeably to practices of your own choosing that hinder the freedom of your heart to love Jesus if grace should specially visit you, for I shall tell you which customs are always good and need to be kept. See, a particular custom is always good to keep if it consists in getting virtue and hindering sin, and that practice should never be left. For if you behave well, you will always be humble and patient, sober and chaste; and so with all other virtues. But the practice of any other thing that hinders a better work should be left when it is time for one to do this; for instance in a certain way for a particular length of time, or waking or kneeling for a certian time, or doing other such bodily work, this practice is to be left off sometimes when a reasonable cause hinders it, or else if more grace comes from another quarter.

22. The delays and temptations that souls shall feel from their spiritual enemies on their spiritual journey to the heavenly Jerusalem, and some remedies against them.


Now you are on the way and know how you shall go. Now beware of enemies that will be trying to hinder you if they can, for their intention is to put out of your heart that desire and that longing that you have for the love of Jesus, and to drive you home again to the love of worldly vanity, for there is nothing that grieves them so much. These enemies are principally carnal desires and vain fears that rise out of your heart through the corruption of your fleshly nature, and want to hinder you desire for the love of God, so that they can fully occupy your heart without disturbance. These are your nearest enemies. There are other enemies too, such as unclean spirits that are busily trying to decieve you with tricks and wiles. But you shall have one remedy, as I said before: whatever it may be they say, do not believe them, but keep on your way and desire only the love of Jesus. Always give this answer: I am nothing, I have nothing, I desire nothing but the love of Jesus alone. If your enemies speak to you first like this, by stirrings in your heart, that you have not made a proper confession, or that there is some old sin hidden in your heart that you do not know and never confessed, and therefore you must turn home again, leave your desire and go to make a better confession: do not believe this saying, for it is false and you are absolved. Trust firmly that you are on the road, and you need no more ransacking of your confession for what is past: keep on your way and think of Jerusalem. Similarly, if they say that you are not worthy to have the love of God, and ask what good it is to crave something you cannot have and do not deserve, do not believe them, but go forward, saying thus, 'Not because I am worthy, but because I am unworthy - that is my motive for loving God, for if I had that love, it would make me worthy; and since I was made for it, even though I should never have it I will yet desire it, and therefore I will pray and meditate in order to get it'. And then, if your enemies see that you begin to grow bold and resolute in your work, they start getting frightened of you; however, they will not stop hindering you when they can as long as your are going on your way. What with fear and menaces on the one hand and flattery and false blandishment on the other, to make you break your purpose and turn home again, they will speak like this: 'If you keep up your desire for Jesus, labouring as hard as you have begun, you will fall into sickness or into fantasies and frenzies, as you see some do, or you will fall into poverty and come to bodily harm, and no one will want to help you; or you might fall into secret temptations of the devil, in which you will not know how to help yourself. It is very dangerous for any man to give himself wholly to the love of God, to leave all the world and desire nothing but his love alone; for so many perils may befall that one does not know of. And therefore turn home again and leave this desire, for you will never carry it through to the end, and behave as other people do in the world'.

So say your enemies; but do not believe them. Keep up your desire, and say nothing else but that you want to have Jesus and to be in Jerusalem. And if they then perceive your will to be so strong that you will not spare yourself - for sin or for sickness, for fantasies or frenzy, for doubts or fears of spiritual temptations, for poverty or distress, for life or for death - but that you will is set ever onward, with one thing and one alone, turning a deaf ear to them as if you did not hear them, and keeping on stubbornly and unstintingly with your prayers and your other spiritual works, and with discretion according to the counsel of your superior or your spiritual father; then they begin to be angry and to draw a little nearer to you. They start robbing you and beating you and doing you all the injury they know: and that is when they cause all your deeds - however well done - to be judged evil by others and turned the worst way. And whatever you may want to do for the benefit of your body and soul, it will be hampered and hindered by other men, in order to thwart you in everything that you reasonably desire. All this they do to stir you to anger, resentment or ill-will against your fellow Christians.

But against all these annoyances, and all others that may befall, use this remedy; take Jesus in your mind, and do not be angry with them; do not linger with them, but think of your lesson - that you are nothing, you have nothing, you cannot lose any earthly goods, and you desire nothing but the love of Jesus - and keep on your way to Jerusalem, with your occupation. Nevertheless, if through your own frailty you are at some time vexed with such troubles befalling your life in the body through the ill-will of man or the malice of the devil, come to yourself again as soon as you can; stop thinking of that distress and go forth to your work. Do not stay too long with them, for fear of your enemies.

23. A general remedy against wicked stirrings and painful vexations that befall the heart from the world, the flesh and the devil.

nd aftir is

Your enemies will be much abashed, when they see you so well-disposed that you are not annoyed, heavyhearted, wrathful, or greatly stirred against any creature, for anything that they can do or say against you, but that you fully set your heart upon bearing all that may happen - ease and hardship, praise or blame - and that you will not trouble about anything, provided you can keep whole your thought and your desire for the love of God. But then they will try you with flattery and vain blandishment, and that is when they bring to the sight of your soul all your good deeds and virtues and impress upon you that all men praise you and speak of your holiness; and how everybody loves you and honors you for your holy living. Your enemies do this to make you think that their talk is true, and take delight in this vain joy and rest in it; but it you do well you shall hold all such vain jabbering as the falsehood and flattery of your enemy, who proffers you a drink of venom tempered with honey. Therefore refuse it; say you do not want any of it, but want to be in Jerusalem.

                                                                                                                  ' I. am no3t .I. haf
   no3t. nou3t .I. aske ne covete bot e luf of iћu '
                                                                                              British Library, Harley 6579, fol. 88v.

You shall feel such hindrances, or others like them - what with your flesh, the world and the devil - more than I can recite now. For as long as a man allows his thoughts to run willingly all over the world to consider different things, he notices few hindrances; but as soon as he draws all his thought and his yearning to one thing alone - to have that, to see that, to know that, and to love that  (and that is only Jesus) - then he shall well feel many painful hindrances, for everything that he feels and is not what he desires is a hindrance to him. Therefore, I have told you particularly of some as an example. Furthermore, I say in general that whatever stirring you feel from your flesh or from the devil, pleasant or painful, bitter or sweet, agreeable or dreadful, glad or sorrowful - that would draw down your thought and your desire from the love of Jesus to worldly vanity and utterly prevent the spiritual desire that you have for the love of him, so that your heart should stay occupied with that stirring: think nothing of it, do not willingly receive it, and do not linger over it too long. But if it concerns some worldly thing that ought to be done for yoruself or your fellow Christian, finish with it quickly and bring it to an end so that it does not hang on your heart. If it is some other thing that is not necessary, or does not concern you, do not trouble about it, do not parley with it, and do not get angry; neither fear it nor take pleasure in it, but promptly strike it out of your heart, saying thus: 'I am nothing; I have nothing; I neither seek nor desire anything but the love of Jesus'. Knit your thought to this desire and make it strong; maintin it with prayer and with other spiritual work so that you do not forget it; and it shall lead you in the right way and save you from all perils, so that although you feel them you shall not perish. And I think it will bring you to perfect love of our Lord Jesus.

On the other hand I also say: Whatever work or stirring it may be that can help your desire, strengthen  and nourish it, and make your heart furthest from the enjoyment and remembrance of the world, and more whole and more ardent for the love of God - whether it be prayer or meditation, stillness or speaking, reading or listening, solitude or company, walking or sitting - keep it for the time and work in it as long as the savor lasts, provided you take with it food, drink and sleep like a pilgrim, keeping discretion in your labor as your superior advises and ordains. For however great his hate on his journey, yet at the right time he is willing to eat, drink and sleep. Do so yourself, for although it may hinder you at one time it shall advance you at another.

The Cloud of Unknowing Author (


For download of published book, Mary's Dowry

Indices to Umilt Website's Essays on Julian:


Influences on Julian
Her Self
Her Contemporaries
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

Julian of 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. 

Julian of 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. Index.

To view sample copies, actual size, click here.

Julian of Norwich, Showing of Love, Westminster Text, translated into Modern English, set in William Morris typefont, hand bound with marbled paper end papers within vellum or marbled paper covers, in limited, signed edition. A similar version available in Italian translation. To order, click here.

'Colections' by an English Nun in Exile: Bibliothque Mazarine 1202. Ed. Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit of the Holy Family. Analecta Cartusiana 119:26. Eds. James Hogg, Alain Girard, Daniel Le Blvec. Salzburg: Institut fr Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universitt Salzburg, 2006.

Anchoress and Cardinal: Julian of Norwich and Adam Easton OSB. Analecta Cartusiana 35:20 Spiritualitt Heute und Gestern. Salzburg: Institut fr Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universitt 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.

Fr Brendan Pelphrey. Lo, How I Love Thee: Divine Love in Julian of Norwich. Ed. Julia Bolton Holloway. Amazon, 2013. ISBN 978-1470198299


Julian among 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) 978-1-4438-8894-3.

Mary's Dowry; An Anthology of Pilgrim and Contemplative Writings/ La Dote di Maria:Antologie di Testi di Pellegrine e Contemplativi. Traduzione di Gabriella Del Lungo Camiciotto. Testo a fronte, inglese/italiano. Analecta Cartusiana 35:21 Spiritualitt Heute und Gestern. Salzburg: Institut fr Anglistik und Amerikanistik Universitt Salzburg, 2017. ISBN 978-3-903185-07-4. ix + 484 pp.

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