<< >> Up Title Contents





SHE desired many times that her head might be smitten off with an axe upon a block for the love of our Lord Jesu. Then said our Lord Jesu in her mind: "I thank thee, daughter, that thou wouldest die for My love; for as often as thou thinkest so, thou shalt have the same meed in heaven, as if thou suffredest the same death, and yet there shall no man slay thee.
     "I assure thee in thy mind, if it were possible for Me to suffer pain again, as I have done before, Me were lever to suffer as much pain as ever I did for thy soul alone, rather than thou shouldest depart from Me everlastingly.
     "Daughter, thou mayst no better please God, than to think continually in His love."
     Then she asked our Lord Jesu Christ, how she should best love Him. And our Lord said: "Have mind of thy wickedness, and think on My goodness.
     "Daughter, if thou wear the habergeon or the hair,[140] fasting bread and water, and if thou saidest every day a thousand Pater Nosters, thou shalt[141] not please Me so well as thou dost when thou art in silence, and suffrest Me to speak in thy soul.
     "Daughter, for to bid many beads, it is good to them that can not better do, and yet it is not perfect.[142] But it is a good way toward perfection. For I tell thee, daughter, they that be great fasters, and great doers of penance, they would that it should be holden the best life.[143] And they that give them unto many devotions, they would have that the best life. And those that give much almesse, they would that it were holden the best life. And I have often told thee, daughter, that thinking, weeping, and high contemplation is the best life in earth, and thou shalt have more merit in heaven for one year thinking in thy mind than for an hundred year of praying with thy mouth; and yet thou wilt not believe Me, for thou wilt bid many beads.[144]
     "Daughter, if thou knew how sweet thy love is to Me, thou wouldest never do other thing but love Me with all thine heart.
     "Daughter, if thou wilt be high with Me in heaven, keep Me alway in thy mind as much as thou mayst, and forget not Me at thy meat; but think alway that I sit in thine heart and know every thought that is therein, both good and bad.
     "Daughter, I have suffered many pains for thy love; therefore thou hast great cause to love Me right well, for I have bought thy love full dear."
     "Dear Lord," she said, "I pray Thee, let me never have other joy in earth, but mourning and weeping for Thy love; for me thinketh, Lord, though I were in hell, if I might weep there and mourn for Thy love as I do here, hell should not noye[145] me, but it should be a manner of heaven. For Thy love putteth away all manner of dread of our ghostly enemy; for I had lever be there, as long as Thou wouldest, and please Thee, than to be in this world and displease Thee; therefore, good Lord, as Thou wilt, so may[146] it be."
     She had great wonder that our Lord would become man, and suffer so grievous pains, for her that was so unkind a creature to Him. And then, with great weeping, she asked our Lord Jesu how she might best please Him; and He answered to her soul, saying: "Daughter, have mind of thy wickedness, and think on My goodness." Then she prayed many times and often these words: "Lord, for Thy great goodness, have mercy on my great wickedness, as certainly as I was never so wicked as Thou art good, nor never may be though I would; for Thou art so good, that Thou mayst no better be; and, therefore, it is great wonder that ever any man should be departed from Thee without end."
     When she saw the Crucifix, or if she saw a man had a wound, or a beast, or if a man beat a child before her, or smote a horse or another beast with a whip, if she might see it or hear it, she thought she saw our Lord beaten or wounded, like as she saw in the man or in the beast.
     The more she increased in love and in devotion, the more she increased in sorrow and contrition, in lowliness[147] and meekness, and in holy dread of our Lord Jesu, and in knowledge of her own frailty. So that if she saw any creature be punished or sharply chastised, she would think that she had been more worthy to be chastised than that creature was, for her unkindness against God. Then would she weep for her own sin, and for compassion of that creature.
     Our Lord said to her: "In nothing that thou dost or sayest, daughter, thou mayst no better please God than believe that He loveth thee. For, if it were possible that I might weep with thee, I would weep with thee for the compassion that I have of thee."
     Our merciful Lord Jesu Christ drew this creature unto His love, and to the mind of His passion, that she might not endure to behold a leper, or another sick man, specially if he had any wounds appearing on him. So she wept as if she had seen our Lord Jesu with His wounds bleeding; and so she did, in the sight of the soul; for, through the beholding of the sick man, her mind was all ravished in to our Lord Jesu, that she had great mourning and sorrowing that she might not kiss the leper when she met them in the way, for the love of our Lord: which was all contrary to her disposition in the years of her youth and prosperity, for then she abhorred them most.
     Our Lord said: "Daughter, thou hast desired in thy mind to have many priests in the town of Lynn, that might sing and read night and day for to serve Me, worship Me, and praise Me, and thank Me for the goodness that I have done to thee in earth; and therefore, daughter, I promise thee that thou shalt have meed and reward in heaven for the good wills and good desires, as if thou haddest done them in deed.
     "Daughter, thou shalt have as great meed and as great reward with Me in heaven, for thy good service and thy good deeds that thou hast done in thy mind, as if thou haddest done the same with thy bodily wits withoutforth.[148]
     "And, daughter, I thank thee for the charity that thou hast to all lecherous men and women; for thou prayest for them and weepest for them many a tear, desiring that I should deliver them out of sin, and be as gracious to them as I was to Mary Magdalene, that they might have as much grace to love Me as Mary Magdalene had; and with this condition thou wouldest that everich[149] of them should have twenty pounds a year to love and praise Me; and, daughter, this great charity which thou hast to them in thy prayer pleaseth Me right well. And, daughter, also I thank thee for the charity which thou hast in thy prayer, when thou prayest for all Jews and Saracens, and all heathen people that they should come to Christian faith, that My name might be magnified in them. Furthermore, daughter, I thank thee for the general charity that thou hast to all people that be now in this world, and to all those that are to come unto the world's end; that thou wouldest be hacked as small as flesh to the pot for their love, so that I would by thy death save them all from damnation, if it pleased Me. And, therefore, daughter, for all these good wills and desires, thou shalt have full meed and reward in heaven, believe it right well and doubt never a deal."
     She said: "Good Lord, I would be laid naked upon an hurdle for Thy love, all men to wonder on me and to cast filth and dirt on me, and be drawen from town to town every day my life time, if Thou were pleased thereby, and no man's soul hindered. Thy will be fulfilled and not mine."
     "Daughter," He said, "as oftentimes as thou sayest or thinkest: Worshipped be all the holy places in Jerusalem, where Christ suffered bitter pain and passion in: thou shalt have the same pardon as if thou were there with thy bodily presence, both to thyself and to all those that thou wilt give to.[150]
     "The same pardon that was granted thee aforetime, it was confirmed on Saint Nicholas day, that is to say, playne[151] remission; and it is not only granted to thee, but also to all those that believe, and to all those that shall believe unto the world's end, that God loveth thee, and shall thank God for thee. If they will forsake their sin, and be in full will no more to turn again thereto, but be sorry and heavy for that they have done, and will do due penance therefore, they shall have the same pardon that is granted to thyself; and that is all the pardon that is in Jerusalem,[152] as was granted thee when thou were at Rafnys."[153]
     That day that she suffered no tribulation for our Lord's sake, she was not merry nor glad, as that day when she suffered tribulation.
     Our Lord Jesus said unto her: "Patience is more worth than miracles doing. Daughter, it is more pleasure to Me that thou suffer despites, scorns, shames, reproofs, wrongs, and diseases, than if thine head were stricken off three times a day every day in seven year."
     "Lord," she said, "for Thy great pain have mercy on my little pain."
     When she was in great trouble, our Lord said: "Daughter, I must needs comfort thee, for now thou hast the right way to heaven. By this way came I and all My disciples; for now thou shalt know the better what sorrow and shame I suffered for thy love, and thou shalt have the more compassion when thou thinkest on My passion."
     "O my dear worthy Lord," said she, "these graces Thou shouldest shew to religious men and to priests."
     Our Lord said to her again: "Nay, nay, daughter, for that I love best that they love not, and that is shames, reproofs, scorns, and despites of the people; and therefore they shall not have this grace; for, daughter, he that dreadeth the shames of this world may not perfectly love God."

Here endeth a short treatise of a devout ancress
     called Margery Kempe of Lynn


[140]The habergeon or the hair-shirt, the former term being applied to an instrument of penance as well as to a piece of armour. Cf. Chaucer, The Persones Tale (ed. Skeat, SS 97): "Thanne shaltow understonde, that bodily peyne stant in disciplyne or techinge, by word or by wrytinge, or in ensample. Also in weringe of heyres or of stamin, or of haubergeons on hir naked flesh, for Cristes sake, and swiche manere penances. But war thee wel that swiche manere penances on thy flesh ne make nat thyn herte bitter or angry or anoyed of thy-self; for bettre is to caste awey thyn heyre, than for to caste away the sikernesse of Jesu Crist. And therfore seith seint Paul: 'Clothe yow, as they that been chosen of God, in herte of misericorde, debonairetee, suffraunce, and swich manere of clothinge'; of whiche Jesu Crist is more apayed than of heyres, or haubergeons, or hauberkes."

[141]Wynkyn de Worde has: "sholde."

[142]Wynkyn de Worde has: "profyte."

[143]Cf. St. Catherine of Siena, Letter to William Flete (ed. Gigli, 124): "There are some who give themselves perfectly to chastising their body, doing very great and bitter penance, in order that the sensuality may not rebel against the reason. They have set all their desire more in mortifying the body than in slaying their own will. These are fed at the table of penance, and are good and perfect, but unless they have great humility, and compel themselves to consider the will of God and not that of men, they oft times mar their perfection by making themselves judges of those who are not going by the same way that they are going."

[144]Perhaps, simply, "say many prayers"--without any special reference to the rosary.


[146]Wynkyn de Worde has: "mote."

[147]Wynkyn de Worde has: "lownesse."

[148]With-out-forth=outwardly. Cf. Chaucer, The Persones Tale, (ed. Skeat, SS 10): "And with-inne the hertes of folk shal be the bytinge conscience, and with-oute-forth shal be the world al brenninge."

[149]Everyche=each one.

[150]According to the legend, certain "indulgences," to be gained by all who visited the Holy Places at Jerusalem, were first granted by Pope St. Sylvester at the petition of Constantine and St. Helena. There seems no evidence as to the real date at which these special indulgences were instituted. Cf. Amort, De origine, progressu, valore, ac frauctu Indulgentiarum, Augsburg, 1735, pars i. pp. 217 et seq.


[152]All the indulgences attached to the Holy Places.

[153]Probably Racheness in the parish of South Acre, where "there was a leper hospital, with church or chapel dedicated to St. Bartholomew, of early foundation" (Victoria History of the County of Norfolk, ii. p. 450).

<< >> Up Title Contents