Julian of Norwich

ulian, Anchoress of St Julian's Church in Norwich, is not normally thought to have been influenced by Birgitta of Sweden and by Catherine of Siena, yet it is clear that her Showing gets its concept and its title from Birgitta's influential work while much in its text resonates with that in Catherine of Siena's Dialogo. It is clear, too, that, just at St Birgitta spends her a lifetime writing her Revelationes, so does Julian spend a lifetime writing her Showing. It is also clear, once the life of Adam Easton, Norwich Benedictine, is known, that that influence largely came from him. He avidly defended St Birgitta's canonization, arguing for women and their theological abilities, citing among other examples the four daughters of Philip who were each prophetesses and who helped Luke write his Gospel and Book of Acts. Adam would also have exposed Julian to the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, for he owned his complete works in a manuscript that survives today at Cambridge University, and he may indeed have written for her the Dionysian 'Cloud of Unknowing' and its related 'Dionise Hid Diuinite' and Epistles. Julian thus may have had a spiritual director, Adam Easton, who taught Hebrew at Oxford, just as Birgitta had Master Mathias who studied Hebrew at Paris. Julian's St Julian's Church was also next door to the Austin Friary, a Friary in contact with the Austin Hermit William Flete, Catherine of Siena's disciple and executor.  Indeed, several contemporary writers resonate with Julian's writings on prayer, the Franciscan Tertiary Angela da Foligno, the Benedictine Hermit John Whiterig, the Augustinian Hermit William Flete, the Dominican Tertiary Catherine of Siena, the Cloud Author and Walter Hilton. Angela of Foligno wrote 'God is closer to us than our own soul', which Julian repeats.

In translating Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love in 1991 from the Syon Abbey manuscript owned by Westminster Cathedral and now on loan to Westminster Abbey, her own English words were kept, rather than translating them into our Latinate forms, her 'oneing' instead of our 'uniting', her 'noughting' instead of our 'negating', her 'endlessness' instead of our 'eternity'. Somehow the Latin hides their meaning into its foreignness. The English words' truth, though now so unusual that they seem foreign, are actually closer to what we mean. Also, Julian's theological concepts can have a very modern ring. Computers, like brains and noughts and crosses games, generally simply 'one' and 'nought' their way through problems. Julian's 'oneing' is one's shaping oneself to that of God, 'noughting' the opposite of 'oneing', as evil, which therefore does not exist. Her 'endlessness' is of God, who is all time, but smaller and smaller bits of time, like death, are of 'noughting'.

There are three versions of Julian's Showing of Love. The first, the Westminster Manuscript, of which excerpts are given here, was written perhaps in 1368 when she was twenty-five. The Long Text, given in the Paris Manuscript and in three Sloane and Stowe Manuscripts in the British Library, presents a text originally written when she was fifty, in 1393, discussing a vision of the Crucifix she had had when she lay, she thought, dying, in 1373. A final version, the Short Text, is given in the British Library Amherst Manuscript, and states it was written when she was still alive in 1413, at seventy, when the Lollards, ancestors to the Quakers, were being burned at the stake. That manuscript also contains Marguerite Porete's Mirror of Simple Souls, Henry Suso's Horologium Sapientiae and Jan van Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone (the latter two now transcribed in booklets in the Julian Library Portfolio) amongst other contemplative texts. All of these early Julian manuscripts are connected to Brigittine Syon Abbey. This Westminster manuscript was owned by the courageous  Lowe family. The last monk to be buried at Syon Abbey at the Reformation was a Lowe. The Lowes in exile continued to be associated with Syon Abbey in exile in the Low Countries and Rouen, women, as well as men, being imprisoned for their recusancy, and a Lowe priest was drawn, hung and quartered at Tyburn for converting five hundred souls to Catholicism. In the nineteenth century Rose Lowe entered Syon Abbey in Lisbon, saving it from extinction under Wellington's deprivations in Portugal and became its Prioress. Bishop James Bramston studied for ordination at the English College, Lisbon. The manuscript then passed from Lowe ownership into his hands, being rebound at this date, and finally to Westminster Cathedral.

Julian thus spent her whole life writing this book. From the age of fifty on she lived as a Solitary, an Anchoress, in an anchorhold at St Julian's Church, Norwich, probably dressed in the black of a Benedictine nun, for she may have earlier been at Carrow Priory, and she gave counsel to troubled people, like Margery Kempe from Lynn.Julian of Norwich, and Augustine before her in his Confessions, obeyed Christ’s words that they should pray to God. These texts Julian uses, the Shema (Leviticus 19.18, Mark 12.28-31), the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6.5-23, Luke 11.1-4), the Confessions of St Augustine, the Rule of St Benedict, the Dialogues of St Gregory, in her Showing of Love, become all one prayer, a plea, that we love God and our even-Christian, our neighbour, as ourselves. In all these versions, except the last, Julian gives passages from the Bible in her Middle English, from Isaiah, from Jonah, from the Epistles and much else, but she dare not do so in the 1413 version when to own or use John Wyclif's translation of the Bible into English would have caused one to have been burnt at the stake as a Lollard heretic. Strangely she uses neither Jerome's Latin Vulgate nor Wyclif's Middle English, the evidence being that she has access to the Hebrew of the Scriptures, likely gained through Cardinal Adam Easton who had taught the Hebrew Scriptures at Oxford and who had translated them into Latin, correcting Jerome's errors. But she is not an elitist scholar. Her last word in her last version is the Lollard term, one's 'even Christian', one's neighbour as one's equal in the eyes of one's Creat or

Julian begins the Westminster Manuscript by imagining the Virgin Mary worshipping her Child. The initial 'O' in the manuscript is illuminated in blue with red penwork ornamentation, the text written in brownish ink. It echoes the lovely Advent Antiphon, 'Sapientiae', where the pregnant Virgin worships and addresses her not yet born child as Wisdom.

th using the single 'thorn' letter, s s being long-tailed, us and vs the reverse of our practice, and n abbreviated with a macron above previous letter. Westminster Cathedral Manuscript, Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love

Later, Julian speaks of the tender hands of God as our Mother. 

The manuscript has drawings of hands in the margin pointing to important parts of the text. The sections given here in red are so rubricated in the Paris Manuscript, but not in the Westminster Manuscript. In other manuscripts these phrases are in engrossed letters, which in one instance, occurs in the Westminster Manuscript and which may have been Julian's own practice, perhaps borrowed from Rabbinical texts, as in the manuscript of Rabbi David Kimhi, owned by Cardinal Adam Easton, Benedictine from Norwich, who effected Birgitta of Sweden's canonization in 1391.

Ur gracious and good lord God showed me in part the wisdom and the truth of the soul of our blessed Lady, Saint Mary that he would be born of her that was a simple person of his making. For this was her marvelling, 'That he who was her maker would be born of her that is made.'  And this wisdom and truth, knowing the greatness of her Maker and the littleness of her self who is made, caused her to say full meekly to Gabriel, 'Lo, me here, God's handmaiden'. This wisdom and truth made her see her God so great, so high, so mighty and so good that the greatness and the nobility and beholding of God fulfilled her with reverent dread. And with this she saw herself so little and so low, so simple and so poor in reward of her God, that this reverent dread fulfilled her with meekness. And thus, by this ground, she was fulfilled of grace and of all manner of virtue, and overpassed all people. In this sight, I understood truly that she is more than all that God made beneath her in worthiness and fullness. For above her there is no thing that is made: but the blessed manhood of Christ, as to my sight. And this our good Lord showed to my understanding, in teaching us.
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Westminster Cathedral Manuscript, Julian of Norwich, Showing of Love

iuliana di Norwich inizia il manoscritto di Westminster con un'immagine della Vergine Maria in adorazione del Figlio suo, come in Dante, Paradiso XXX.1-6.

I concetti teologici di Giuliana appaiono molto moderni. I computer, così come il nostro cervello e i giochi affini al filetto, nella risoluzione di un problema utilizzano semplicemente un sistema di numerazione binaria di "uno" e "zero". L' 'essere uno' per Giuliana corrisponde al trasformarsi di un individuo a immagine di Dio. 'L'essere nulla', il contrario dell' 'essere uno', rappresenta il male, che, in quanto tale, non esiste. E 'l'essere infinito' è una proprietà di Dio, che esiste in eterno, laddove i sempre più piccoli frammenti di tempo, così come la morte, appartengono al nulla.

Esistono tre versioni delle Visioni di Giuliana di Norwich. La prima, il manoscritto di Westminster, di cui qui sono presentati alcuni passi, è stata redatta da Giuliana probabilmente nel 1368, a cinquant'anni d'età. Il manoscritto di Parigi e due versioni più tarde, attualmente custodite alla British Library, contengono un testo scritto da Giuliana nel cinquantesimo anno d'età, dove si parla di una visione del Crocifisso, da lei avuta nel 1373, quando, così credeva, era in punto di morte. Una ultima versione è stata composta nel 1413, a settanta anni d'età, quando i Lollardi, progenitori dei Quaccheri, venivano bruciati al rogo. Giuliana attese l'intera vita alla composizione di questo libro. Dai cinquant'anni in poi visse come anacoreta, da reclusa, in un romitaggio presso la Chiesa di san Giuliano a Norwich. Verosimilmente vestì l'abito nero delle monache Benedettine, ed era stata probabilmente nel Convento di Carrow; come Margery Kempe di Lynn consolava gli afflitti. In tutte queste versioni, eccetto l'ultima, Giuliana include passi della Bibbia in Middle English, da Isaia, da Giona, dalle Epistole e da molti altri libri. Non osa, tuttavia, farlo nella versione del 1413, al tempo in cui possedere o usare la traduzione in inglese della Bibbia di Wyclif sarebbe costato l'essere bruciato sul rogo come eretico Lollardo. Eppure l'ultima parola della sua ultima versione è il termine Lollardo 'cristiano mio pari', il mio proprio prossimo, mio simile agli occhi del Creatore.

La lettera iniziale del manoscritto di Westminster è miniata in blu con decorazioni in rosso eseguite a pennino. Il testo è vergato in marrone. Manine a margine indicano le parti importanti del testo. Le parti qui in grassetto, le parole di Cristo, nel manoscritto di Parigi sono in rosso.


l nostro amabile e buon Signore Dio mi ha in parte rivelato la sapienza e la verità dell'anima della nostra Vergine benedetta, Santa Maria, così ho compreso la riverente adorazione, con la quale Ella ha contemplato il suo Dio che è il suo Creatore, provando stupore e gran riverenza perchè Lui sarebbe nato da lei, creatura semplice e da Lui stesso generata. Dunque questa era la causa del suo stupore: 'Che colui che era il suo Fattore fosse nato da lei che è la sua creatura.' Questa saggezza e verità, di fronte alla conoscenza della grandezza del Creatore e della propria piccolezza, come creatura, è la ragione per la quale Maria ha detto con assoluta umiltà all'Arcangelo Gabriele, 'Eccomi, sono l'ancella del Signore.' Questa sapienza e verità le fece vedere il suo Dio così maestoso, così eccelso, così possente e così buono che la grandezza e la nobiltà e la contemplazione di Dio la riempirono di riverente tremore. Ed allo stesso tempo si vide così piccola e misera, così semplice e povera dinanzi al suo Dio che tale riverente timore la ricolmò di umiltà. E dunque, per tale verità fondamentale, fu piena di grazia e di ogni virtù molto più di ogni altra creatura. In considerazione di questo veramente compresi che Lei, per i suoi meriti e la sua perfezione, è al di sopra di tutti coloro che Dio ha creato al di sotto di lei. In quanto più in alto di lei non c'è alcuna cosa creata, eccetto la beata umanità di Cristo, così come a me apparve. E questo il nostro buon Dio lo ha rivelato alla mia intelligenza, per ammaestrarci.
. . . . .

A questo punto Egli mi ha mostrato una piccola cosa, grande quanto una nocciola, che mi pareva stare nel palmo della mia mano. Era rotonda come ogni altra sfera. L'ho guardata con gli occhi della mente e ho pensato, 'Che cosa mai può essere?'   

E mi fu così risposto: 'Questo è tutto ciò che è creato'. Mi chiedevo con stupore come avesse potuto durare, poichè pensavo che avrebbe potuto improvvissamente ridursi a nulla a causa della sua piccolezza. E la risposta giunse alla mia mente: 'Sussiste e sussisterà sempre perché Dio l'ama'. Così tutte le cose hanno origine dall'amore di Dio.   

Ed in questa piccola cosa ho visto tre attributi. Il primo è che Dio l'ha creata. Il secondo è che l'ama. E il terzo è che Dio la custodisce. Ma cosa simboleggia ciò per me? In verità il Creatore, il Custode, l'Amore. Poiché fino a che non mi sarò unita a Lui, mai avrò piena pace o vera beatitudine. Questo significa: fino a che non sarò in completa unione con Lui, e fino a che nulla di esistente nel creato si interponga tra me e il mio Dio.

Pensavo che questa piccola cosa che è creata avrebbe potuto ridursi a nulla per la sua piccolezza. Da ciò dobbiamo avere piena coscienza che tutte le cose che sono create sono nulla in confronto all'amare e al possedere Dio che è increato.

Questo è il motivo per cui non troviamo pace nel nostro cuore e nella nostra anima, poiché noi cerchiamo la pace in questa cosa che è così piccola, dove non c'è alcun ristoro, e non riconosciamo Dio, che è l'Onnipotente, che è Sapienza e Somma bontà. Poiché Lui è la vera pace. Così conosceremo Dio, e Egli ama che troviamo riposo in Lui. Poichè tutto quello che è al di sotto di Lui non è pienezza. E questo è il motivo per cui nessuna anima trova riposo finchè non fa vuoto di tutto ciò che è creato. Ma allorquando l'anima vuole far vuoto dentro di sè per amore, per possedere Lui che è tutto, allora può trovare la pace dello spirito.

Inoltre il Signore mi rivelò che non c'è più grande gioia per Lui che ricevere un'anima pura, nella nudità, semplice e umile. Essendo tale anelito la naturale propensione dell'anima toccata dallo Spirito Santo. E da ciò che ho inteso con l'intelligenza di questa visione: 'Dio, per la tua bontà, donami te stesso. Poiché tu mi basti e posso non chiedere altro che sia meno, così ch'io possa essere pienamente degna di Te per renderti pieno onore. E se dovessi chiedere meno, mi mancherebbe sempre qualcosa. Ma soltanto in Te non manco di nulla'. Queste parole, 'Dio di bontà', sono gioia per la nostra anima e sono vicinissime alla volontà di nostro Signore. Poiché la Sua bontà è in tutta la Sua creazione e in tutte le Sue opere benedette e tutte le trascende nei secoli dei secoli. Poiché Egli è l'infinito e ci ha creati solo per Se stesso, ci ha redenti con la Sua preziosa Passione e nel Suo amore benedetto ci custodisce, e tutto questo per la sua benevolenza. Questa visione mi è stata data, come ho inteso nello spirito, per ammaestrare le nostre anime ad aderire sapientemente alla bontà di Dio.

E' volontà di Dio che tre cose otteniamo nella nostra preghiera, come dono di Lui. La prima è che preghiamo con pieno intento e con tutta la mente, senza pigrizia e, per sua grazia, con gioia e letizia, senza sciocca pesantezza e vano dolore. La seconda è che rimaniamo saldamente in Lui, per amor suo, senza lamentarci e senza resistergli per le mire della nostra vita perché questa durerà ben poco. La terza è che confidiamo in lui con tutte le nostre forze, con salda fede, poichè è Sua volontà il farci conoscere che arriverà all'improvviso, pieno di benedizioni per tutti coloro che Lo amano, poiché il Suo operare è segreto, e allora sarà conosciuto. La sua venuta sarà improvvisa e come un lampo e si crederà in Lui poichè Sua è la potenza, ed Egli è umile e amabile. Sia benedetto.

Dopo di ciò vidi Dio in un punto. Da tale visione percepita con l'intelligenza compresi che Egli è tutte le cose. Contemplai riflettendo, percependo e comprendendo mediante quella visione, che Egli crea tutto ciò che è creato, ed ama la più piccola cosa. E vidi che nulla è fatto per caso o senza ordine, ma tutto viene fatto dalla onniveggente sapienza di Dio. E se anche vedessimo agire il caso o la fortuna nella vita dell'uomo, la nostra cecità e la nostra deficienza nel prevedere ne sarebbero la causa. Dunque so bene che per nostro Signore Dio non c'è causalità o accidente. E' necessario perciò che io riconosca che tutte le cose che sono create sono cose buone, poiché il Signore nostro Dio crea tutte le cose. In quel momento non mi fu rivelato l'operare della Creazione, ma quello del nostro Signore Dio nella creazione, poiché Egli è il centro di tutte le cose e tutto crea.

E sono certa che non fa il male. E qui ho visto con certezza che il male non è. Inoltre, in altre visioni nostro Signore Dio mi ha detto, 'Vedi, io sono Dio. Vedi, sono in tutte le cose. Vedi, io creo tutte le cose. Vedi, mai ho abbandonato le mie opere nè mai le abbandonerò per l'eternità. Vedi, conduco tutte le cose verso il fine da me prefissato per loro dall'eternità - con la stessa potenza,  lo stesso amore e la stessa sapienza, con cui le ho create. Dunque come potrebbe esistere qualcosa che non sia cosa buona?'.

Vidi con assoluta certezza che Egli mai muta le Sue disposizioni nell'opera Sua e mai lo farà in eterno. Poiché non vi è nulla a Lui sconosciuto nella creazione, in tutto il suo ordine e la sua bontà, fin dall'eternità. E dunque tutte le cose furono ordinate prima che alcunché fosse creato, così come sarà per tutta l'eternità.

. . .

E ciò mi fu rivelato con queste parole: 'Hai raggiunto la pace?' E Cristo disse queste altre parole, 'Se tu hai la tua ricompensa, io ho la mia ricompensa'. Come se avesse detto: "E' mia gioia e cosa a me gradita, e non chiedo a te niente altro per il mio sacrifio se non che io possa darti il premio'. Ed è questo che egli mi ha fatto percepire con l'intelligenza: la proprietà di colui che dona con gioia. Il datore gioioso non considera ciò che dà, ma il suo desiderio è tutto proteso a compiacere e a confortare colui a cui ne fa dono. E se colui che riceve il dono lo accoglie con gioia e gratitudine, allora l'amabile datore ritiene come nulla tutto il suo sacrificio e tutta la sua passione per la gioia e il compiacimento che prova, poichè ha fatto cosa tanto gradita e ha tanto confortato colui che Egli ama. Ciò mi fu rivelato abbondantemente e in pienezza.

. . .

Inoltre nostro Signore  si manifestò con una rivelazione sulla preghiera. In questa visione ho visto che due sono le condizioni secondo le intenzioni di nostro Signore. Una è che la preghiera sia retta. E l'altra è l'assoluta fiducia. Ma sovente tuttavia la nostra fiducia non è piena poichè non siamo certi che Dio ci ascolti. Pensiamo che sia a causa dell'esser noi indegni e per questa ragione ci sentiamo nulla. Poichè sovente, dopo aver pregato, ci sentiamo sterili e proviamo come prima aridità. E così percependo, la nostra stoltezza è causa della nostra debolezza. Poiché io stessa mi sono sentita così.

 E nostro signore subitamente mi ispirò nella mente e mi rivelò queste parole, e disse, 'Io sono il fondamento della tua preghiera. Per prima cosa è mia volontà che tu giunga a pregare, e sono io che ti ispiro a volere ciò. E dunque, come sarebbe mai possibile che tu non fossi esaudita, dal momento che io ho fatto sì che tu pregassi, e tu preghi'. Ed ecco così è nella prima argomentazione delle tre che seguono: il nostro Signore Dio per quanto possibile consola, usando le stesse parole del primo ragionamento. Ove Egli dice, 'E tu preghi', rivela la sua somma gioia e l'infinita ricompensa che ci concederà per il nostro pregare.

E disse nella sesta argomentazione, 'Allora come sarebbe possibile?' Questo fu detto riguardo ad una cosa impossibile. Poiché è la cosa più impossibile che mai possa accadere che noi supplicassimo misericordia e grazia e non ottenessimo questo. Poiché tutte le cose che nostro Signore ci fa chiedere, è lui stesso ad averle preordinate per noi dall'eternità.

Dunque da questo possiamo comprendere che il nostro chiedere non è causa della benevolenza e della grazia che Egli concede a noi, ma emana dalla Sua propria bontà, che egli propriamente rivela in tutte queste dolci parole, dove dice 'Io sono il fondamento della vostra preghiera e del vostro chiedere'. Ed il nostro Signore vuole che tutti coloro che Lo amano sulla terra sappiano questo. E quanto più noi lo comprendiamo tanto più dovremmo tendere a questo, se sapientemente lo accogliessimo. E dunque queste sono le intenzioni di nostro Signore.

La sapiente preghiera è una sincera, perseverante volontà dell'anima, dalla grazia ispirata, tutt'una con la volontà dello stesso nostro Signore Dio. Lui è il primo a ricevere le nostre preghiere, così penso, le accoglie con piena gratitudine e con somma gioia. Le innalza al cielo e le custodisce come tesori, ove non andranno mai perdute. Là la nostra preghiera viene accolta, al cospetto di Dio e di tutta la sua Santa Corte celeste, per sempre esaudirci nelle necessità. E quando raggiungeremo la beatitudine in cielo, il gaudio sarà la ricompensa alle nostre preghiere, e adoranti renderemo grazie a Lui per l'eternità. Il Signore nostro Dio esulta di gioia ed è pieno di gaudio per la nostra preghiera, Egli la attende e la accoglie. Poiché mediante la Sua grazia l'orazione ci rende simili a Lui nella condizione così come lo siamo per natura.

Disse anche, 'Prega anche se pensi che non ti aiuti'. Anche la preghiera di ringraziamento è orazione. Il ringraziamento è un'autentica sapienza interiore congiunta a una grande riverenza, a un timore con sollecitudine, che suscita il volgerci con tutte le nostre forze verso le opere a cui Dio ci ha esortati, gioiendo e Lui ringraziando nell'intimo. E talora profusamente prorompe in esclamazioni, così esprimendosi, 'Signore Dio abbi pietà e sii Tu benedetto'.

. . .

La Verità vede Dio, e la Sapienza Lo contempla e da queste due origina il terzo, che è sublime santa dolcezza in Dio, l'Amore. Dove è verità e sapienza, in verità lì c'è amore e questo emana dalle due, così come tutto ciò che è stato creato da Dio. Poichè Dio è l'infinita sovrana verità, l'infinita sovrana sapienza, l'infinito sovrano amore che è da sempre.

. . .

Ed inoltre vuole che sappiamo che questa amata anima era preziosamente congiunta a Lui quando è stata creata. Il vincolo è così intimo e così possente, così che l'anima è una con Dio ed in questa unità è resa sommamente santa. Inoltre, Dio vuole che conosciamo e comprendiamo che tutte le anime che saranno salvate in cielo per l'eternità sono strettamente avvinte in tale vincolo, e unite in questo "esser uno" e rese sante in tale santità. Ed è per il sommo ed infinito amore che Dio ha per tutta l'umanità, che Egli non fa alcuna differenza nel suo amore tra la benedetta anima di Cristo e la più piccola anima che sarà salvata. Poiché è molto semplice vivere e credere che la dimora della benedetta anima di Cristo si eleva più alta nella gloriosa Deità. E in verità, così come comprendo il significato che il Signore intende, laddove è la benedetta anima di Cristo, là è anche la vita di tutte le anime che saranno salvate da Cristo.

Noi dobbiamo compiacerci grandemente del fatto che il nostro Dio ha posto la Sua dimora nella nostra anima, e ancora di più dobbiamo gioire che la nostra anima dimori in Dio. E la dimora della nostra anima è in Dio, che è da sempre. Sommo discernimento è comprendere e sapere che Dio, che è il nostro creatore, ha preso dimora nella nostra anima. E maggior saggezza è comprendere più profondamente, e ancora di più intuire e conoscere che la nostra anima, che è creata, nell'essenza dimora in Dio, e tale essenza, per grazia di Dio, ci rende quel che siamo.

Inoltre l'onnipotente verità della Trinità è nostro Padre. Poiché ci ha creati e ci custodisce in Lui. E la profonda sapienza della Trinità è nostra Madre, in cui noi siamo tutti racchiusi. E la somma benevolenza della Trinità è nostro Signore e viviamo in intimità con Lui e Lui è in noi. Tutto potenza, tutto sapienza e tutto bontà; un unico Dio, un unico Signore, un'unica benevolenza.

. . .

Dio è più vicino a noi della nostra stessa anima poiché Lui è il fondamento in cui la nostra anima si radica ed Egli è lo strumento che mantiene l'essenza ed il corpo materiale uniti così che essa non se ne parta mai. Poiché la nostra anima è in Dio, riposa in lui, rimane in Dio con salda forza, e per natura è radicata in Dio, nell'amore infinito. E dunque se vogliamo conoscere la nostra anima e vivere in comunione spirituale ed insieme amare, è cosa giusta cercare la nostra anima in Dio nostro Signore, che Egli racchiude in Sé.

. . .

E così come in verità Dio è nostro Padre, altrettanto vero è che Dio è nostra Madre. E Dio rivela questo in tutte le cose e più propriamente quando dice queste dolci parole: 'Io sono ciò'. Questo significa, 'Io sono la potenza e la benevolenza di Dio Padre; Io sono la sapienza e la dolcezza della Maternità; Io sono la luce e la grazia che è tutto amore benedetto; Io sono la Trinità; Io sono l'Unità; Io sono la somma sovrana bontà di tutte le cose; Io sono colui che suscita il tuo amare; Io sono colui che suscita il tuo desiderare l'infinita pienezza di ogni vero anelito'.

. . .

Sento che vi sono tre modi di contemplare la Maternità di Dio. Il primo è fondamento della nostra natura creata. Il secondo deriva dalla nostra natura, e da lì si è originata la Maternità della grazia. Il terzo è la Maternità della creazione e questo è un'effondersi della stessa grazia, un profluvio di grazia, somma e perfetta per tutti i secoli dei secoli. E tutto è un unico amore.

. . .

La protezione della madre è la più vicina, la più sollecita e la più sicura. E' la più vicina poichè è naturale, la più sollecita poichè è tutta amore, la più sicura poiché è verace. Questo ufficio nessuno sarebbe mai capace di compiere perfettamente, se non Gesù Cristo, Dio e Uomo. Sappiamo bene che ogni madre ci dà alla luce con dolore e per la morte. Ma solo la nostra vera Madre, Gesù, ci fa nascere alla gioia e alla beatitudine, e alla vita eterna. Sia benedetto.

Dunque ci sostiene, ci fa rimanere in Lui, nel suo amore. E quando è giunta l'ora patì, soffrendo le più acute pene e i più atroci dolori che mai siano stati e saranno. Morì infine e questo fu compiuto per condurci alla beatitudine. Tuttavia questo ancora non sarebbe stato abbastanza per il suo sommo amore. E mi rivelò ciò con queste somme ed eccelse parole d'amore, 'Se potessi soffrire di più, soffrirei di più'.

Gesù è morto una volta per sempre, ma non cesserà di sacrificarsi. Dunque deve nutrirci poiché il prezioso amore della Maternità Lo ha reso nostro debitore. La madre può dare a suo figlio il suo latte da succhiare, ma, la nostra preziosa Madre, Gesù può nutrirci offrendo se stesso, e opera ciò in completa umiltà e piena tenerezza mediante il santissimo sacramento del Corpo e Sangue  Suo, il prezioso cibo di vita. E con tutti questi dolci sacramenti Egli, benignissimo e misericordioso, è nostro sostegno.

. . .

 Siamo nelle dolci e amorevoli mani della Madre nostra, sollecite e premurose. Poiché in tutto questo operare Egli assume l'ufficio di una amorevole nutrice che non ha nessun altro compito se non attendere alla salvezza del suo bambino. La missione di nostro Signore Gesù Cristo è quella di salvarci. Questo è compiuto per i suoi meriti, ed è conforme alla sua volontà che si conosca. Poiché Egli vuole che lo amiamo teneramente e confidiamo in Lui con umiltà e con tutta le nostre forze. E questo rivelò con tali benigne parole 'Vi sostengo fortemente'. Per di più un bambino per natura confida sempre nell'amore della madre e, naturalmente non pone la sua fiducia in sè; ama la madre ed essi si amano reciprocamente.  

Inoltre il mio anelito e la mia grande speranza era che, per dono di Dio, fossi liberata da questo mondo e da questa vita. Poiché sovente ho veduto le pene dell'esistere e il benessere e la condizione beata che è nei Cieli e talora ho pensato che malgrado non abbia avuto in questa vita altro dolore che l'assenza di nostro Signore Dio, questo era più di quanto potessi sopportare e questo mi addolorava e mi struggevo nel mio anelito. Inoltre la mia stessa miseria, pigrizia e abbattimento hanno contribuito a quella situazione, cosicché non volevo vivere e soffrire in quanto per me era insopportabile. Ed a tutto questo il nostro amabile Signore Dio rispose confortandomi e esortandomi ad essere capace di sopportare con queste parole: 'In un subito sarai liberata da tutto il tuo dolore e da tutta la tua malattia e da ogni tua pena. E verrai quassù e avrai me come tua ricompensa e premio e sarai ricolma di gioia e beatitudine. E mai più proverai alcun dolore, nè avrai alcuna malattia, nè alcun dispiacere, nè mancanza di volontà, ma sarai per sempre nella gioia e nella beatitudine per l'eternità. Perché dunque dovrebbe affliggerti il soffrire per un po', dal momento che questa è la mia volontà ed è degno del mio onore?

È volontà di Dio che fissiamo i nostri pensieri in questa benedetta contemplazione il più spesso ed il più a lungo possibile.

Traduzione di Elisabetta Sayiner e AD While the following are the selections made by Martin Buber from Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love in his anthology, Ecstatic Confessions, published in 1909. Passi scelti da Martin Buber (Ecstatic Confessions, Syracuse University Press, 1996; Ekstatische Konfessionen, Verlag, 1909) dal Libro delle Rivelazioni della beata Giuliana di Norwich, tradotto da Domenico Pezzini nel 1984. Julian of Norwich, Showing of Love, edizione definitiva e traduzione a cura di Sister Anna Maria Reynolds, C.P. e Julia Bolton Holloway (Firenze: SISMEL, 2001).

nd with this our good Lord said full blissfully, 'Lo, how I love you'. As if he had said,  'My darling, behold and see your Lord your God who is your Maker and your endless joy. See your own brother, your Saviour, my child, behold. See what liking and bliss I have in your salvation. And for my love joy now with me'. And also for more understanding this blessed word was said, 'Lo, how I love you'. As if he had said, 'Behold and see that I loved you so much before I died for you, that I would die for you, and now I have died for you and suffered willfully that I may. And now is all my bitter pain and all my hard travail turned to endless joy and bliss to me. And to you. How should it now be, that you should pray anything of me that delights me, but if I should full gladly grant it to you. For my delight is your holiness and your endless joy and bliss with me.

Il nostro buon Signore disse in piena beatitudine: 'Guarda quanto ti amo', come se avesse detto: 'Mia diletta, contempla e guarda il tuo Signore, il tuo Dio, che è il tuo creatore e la tua gioia eterna. Guarda il fratello tuo, il tuo salvatore; figlia mia, contempla e guarda quale gaudio e beatitudine provo per la tua salvezza, e rallegrati con me per il mio amore'. E perché comprendessi più profondamente, furono dette queste parole benedette: 'Guarda quanto ti amo', come se avesse detto: 'Contempla e guarda che ti ho così tanto amato, prima di morire per te, da voler morire per te. E ora sono morto per te, e ho voluto soffrire così. Ora tutta la mia amara pena e tutto il mio duro travaglio sono stati trasformati in gioia eterna e gaudio per me, per te. Come potrebbe accadere ora che tu mi chieda qualcosa che mi è gradito senza che io te lo conceda con grande gioia? Per il mio gaudio è la tua santità, la tua gioia e felicità eterna unita a me'.

And for the great endless love that God has to all mankind, he makes no separation in love between the blessed soul of Christ and the least soul that shall be saved. For it is full easy to believe and to trust, that the dwelling of the blessed soul of Christ is full high in the glorious Godhead. And truly as I understand in our Lord's meaning, where the blessed soul of Christ is, there is the substance of all the souls who shall be saved by Christ. Highly ought we to enjoy that God dwells in our soul, and much more highly ought we enjoy that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is made to be God's dwelling place, and the dwelling place of our soul is God who is unmade. A high understanding it is inwardly to see and to know that God who is our maker dwells in our soul. And a higher understanding it is inwardly to see and to know our soul that is made dwells in God's substance, of which substance by God, we are who we are. And I saw no difference between God and our substance but as it were all God. And yet my understanding took that our substance is in God, that is to say that God is God, and our substance is a creature in God.

E per l'infinito grande amore che Dio ha per tutta l'umanità non fa alcuna distinzione nell'amore tra l'anima santa di Cristo e la più piccola anima che sarà salvata. E' pienamente semplice credere e confidare che la dimora dell'anima beata di Cristo è eccelsa nella gloria di Dio; ma è anche vero, come compresi da quello che nostro Signore mi rivelava, che dove dimora l'anima beata di Cristo, là c'è pure l'essenza di tutte le anime che saranno salvate da Cristo. Dovremmo grandemente gioire che Dio abita nella nostra anima; e ancor più grandemente dovremmo gioire che la nostra anima dimora in Dio. La nostra anima è stata creata per essere la dimora di Dio, e la dimora della nostra anima è Dio che è increato. Sublime conoscenza è vedere e percepire intimamente che Dio, nostro creatore, dimora nella nostra anima, e una conoscenza ancora più grande è il vedere e conoscere più intimamente che la nostra anima, che è creata, dimora  nell'essenza di Dio, e per questa essenza divina noi siamo quello che siamo. E non vidi differenza alcuna tra Dio e la nostra essenza, ma era come se tutto fosse Dio.

And thus I saw full securely that it is readier to us, and more easy to come to the knowing of God, than to know our own soul.  For our soul is so deep grounded in God and so endlessly treasured that we may not come to the knowing thereof, till we have first knowing of God, who is the maker to whom it is oned. But notwithstanding, I saw that we have naturally of fullness to desire wisely, and truly to know our own soul. Whereby we are taught to seek it where it is, and that is in God. And thus by gracious leading of the holy Ghost, we should know them both in one. Whether we be stirred to know God, or our soul, they are both good and true. God is nearer to us than our own soul, for he is ground in whom our soul stands, and he is the means who keeps the substance and the sensuality together so that they shall never separate. For our soul sits in God in very rest, and our soul stands in God in true strength.  And our soul is naturally rooted in God in endless love. And therefore if we will have knowledge of our soul and communing and dalliance therewith, we must needs seek into our Lord God in whom it is enclosed.

E così vidi con assoluta certezza che più prontamente e più facilmente riusciamo a conoscere Dio che non la nostra anima. La nostra anima è così profondamente radicata in Dio e così custodita per l'eternità come un tesoro che non possiamo giungere a conoscerla se prima non conosciamo Dio, il creatore al quale è unita. Ciò nonostante vidi che per la nostra natura e la nostra perfezione dobbiamo desiderare con sapienza e rettitudine di conoscere la nostra anima, imparando a cercarla dove essa è, e cioè in Dio. E così per la guida che ci viene dalla grazia del Santo Spirito noi conosceremo le due cose in una: sia che siamo spinti a conoscere Dio o la nostra anima; ambedue gli impulsi sono buoni e veri. Dio è più vicino a noi di quanto non lo sia la nostra stessa anima, poiché egli è il fondamento su cui poggia la nostra anima [Egli è il mediatore che tiene unite l'essenza e il desiderio così che non si separino mai]. Poiché la nostra anima riposa in Dio nella quiete, in Dio ha la vera forza. La nostra anima è per sua natura radicata in Dio in un amore infinito. E dunque, se vogliamo conoscere la nostra anima, conversare e entrare con essa in comunione, dobbiamo cercarla in Dio nostro Signore, in Lui essa è racchiusa.


And then our Lord opened my ghostly eye and showed me my soul in the midst of my heart. I saw the soul so large as it were an endless world and as it were a blissful kingdom. And by the condition I saw therein I understood, that it is a worshipful city.

E Dio nostro Signore aprì gli occhi del mio spirito e mi mostrò la mia anima nell'intimo del mio cuore. Vidi che l'anima era così grande da essere come una cittadella senza confini e come un regno beato. Capii da quel che vidi dentro che è una città che deve essere adorata.

Julian's manuscripts, like those of Catherine of Siena, are copied out again and again in the context of Syon Abbey, the Abbey deliberately founded in England in accordance with St Birgitta's Rule by Henry V, in response to her desire for peace between England and the rest of the world. Interestingly, both Julian (circa 1413) and Syon Abbey (1434) were visited by an indefatigable woman pilgrim, mother of fourteen, Margery Kempe.

Margery Kempe (

argery Kempe was illiterate and exhibitionistic but valiantly struggled to imitate the lives of these saints and their book-writing. She did so by means of having others read to her devotional books by Walter Hilton and by Birgitta of Sweden and then travelled to the same places Birgitta had visited as a pilgrim, Compostela, Jerusalem , Rome, Trondheim, Cologne and Gdansk. Her confessor was a Dominican, the Dominicans of Lynn being in direct contact with Catherine of Siena's Raymond of Capua. She next dictated her memoirs in order that The Book of Margery Kempe be written down. Birgitta had worked to reform the state, to reform the Kingdom of Sweden by reforming her King, then the state of Europe by reforming not only kings and queens but even Emperors and Popes. Her work with the Friends of God was not for herself but for all of Christendom. Catherine of Siena, likewise, worked for not only her city state of Siena, but for all of Tuscany, striving for peace between the ancient enemies, Siena, Pisa and Florence, then she worked for the Church and for peace in all of Christendom, begging the English mercenary, Sir John Hawkwood, to leave Tuscany and go on a bloody Crusade elsewhere, against pagans rather than Christians. Julian leaves aside issues of Church and State and works directly for the love of one's even-Christian, and she even and perhaps especially shows that charity towards Margery Kempe. Birgitta, Catherine and Julian are characterised by joy, by laughter, Birgitta's maid servant telling Margery many years later that her mistress had always a laughing cheer, Catherine of Siena being deeply loved by her disciples and joking about God playing a joke upon her, Julian bringing in laughter even at her death-bed scene. But Margery takes herself too importantly to be able to laugh at herself - and this makes it hard to take her seriously. What we find in these mystics' writings is that self-importance is a form of noughting, while the love of God and one's neighbour in God's image, is oning.

Margery Kempe visited Julian of Norwich perhaps before 1413 and later reported their conversations, thus providing for us not only the early written texts we now have, the Amherst, Westminster, Paris Texts, but also an Oral Text, spoken just prior to the time that the 1413 exemplar to the Amherst Text was being written. Margery's Manuscript thus allows us to go back to fifteenth-century East Anglia with, as it were, a tape-recorder or an IPod. For this reason we present this essay in an oral recording on the Web which can be read simultaneously with this text, giving the various Julian and Margery texts, on the screen. Julian functioned in her community much like a psychiatrist, healing souls, that Greek word, in fact, meaning 'soul doctor'. For the Middle Ages theology was psychiatry, making use of the Book of Job and of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. Julian helps heal Margery's soul, perhaps too by suggesting the therapy of the Jerusalem pilgrimage and the writing of the vast book of her travels, The Book of Margery Kempe.

Both the Amherst and the Butler-Bowden Manuscripts, of Julian's Showing and Margery's Book, are now in the British Library. This essay transcribes directly from the manuscript texts. The letter þ 'thorn' is the Middle English form for th, the letter 3, 'yoch', is g, y or gh, the median letter the scribal s. Contractions are spelled out in italics. The foliation of the manuscripts is cited, preceded by A for Amherst (the Julian Showing Manuscript in the British Library, Additional 37,790), W for Westminster (the Julian Showing Manuscript owned by Westminster Cathedral and on loan to Westminster Abbey), P for Paris (the Julian Showing Manuscript in the Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Anglais 40) which can all be retrieved from the edition by Sister Anna Maria Reynolds, C.P. and Julia Bolton Holloway, published by SISMEL, Florence, 2001), and M for The Book of Margery Kempe (the Butler-Bowden Manuscript, now British Library, Additional 61,823, discovered in 1934, and retrieved from the manuscript rather than from the edition by Sanford Brown Meech and Hope Emily Allen, Oxford: Early English Text Society, 212, 1939, 1961). Letters and words rubricated here are so in the manuscripts. 

Margery has her scribes tell us (M, folio 21)

Julian's 1413/1450 Short Text concludes with an essay on the 'Discerning of Spirits'. Indeed, if Julian of Norwich had been counseled by Cardinal Adam Easton of Norwich Cathedral Priory, who knew Bishop Hermit Alfonso of Jaén and his Epistola Solitarii, and who had together with him defended Birgitta of Sweden's canonisation, the Norwich anchoress certainly would have been 'expert' in the discerning of such spiritual matters and such revelatory showings, about which both the Cardinal and the Hermit Bishop had written. This was a matter, at this time when the pros and cons were being debated concerning women's visionary writings, of the greatest topical concern.

Margery and Julian's conversation continues

Again, we hear in this counsel the precepts written by Adam Easton and by Alfonso of Jaén (also by the Cloud Author in his various Epistles), concerning the discerning of spirits in connection with the validation of the visionary writings of Birgitta of Sweden, whose 1391 Canonisation was to be confirmed at the 1419 Council of Constance despite the 1415 objections of Jean Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, contained in his work, De probatione spirituum. That material had already been given in William Flete's Remedies Against Temptations. And William Flete had left England after writing that work to become an Augustine Hermit at Leccetto and associated with St Catherine of Siena. In the passage we also hear Julian's own beloved phrase, 'euyne cristen', and we can clearly recognise the echoes to the concluding section concerning the 'Discernment of Spirits', in the Julian corpus unique to the Amherst Short Text, A114v-115, and which may perhaps be her last, and authorizing, words in the face of Archbishop/Chancellor Arundel's censorship of Lollardy, particularly where women taught theology: Julian continues in her conversation with Margery, and is now reported in direct speech: That image of the storm-tossed sea reflects that in the Cloud Author's A Pistle of Discretion of Stirings (EETS 231:64.7-23).

Julian next is reported as citing her authorities, Paul and Jerome, to Margery, who perhaps misremembers one of them:

The only possible corresponding passage in Jerome's writings occurs in the heavily philosophical and theological Epistula 84, Ad Pammachium et Oceanum, 'Iungamus gemitus, lacrimas copulemus, ploremus et conuertamur ad dominum, qui fecit nos; non expectemus diaboli paenitentiam. Vana est illa praesumptio et in profundum gehennae trahens; hic aut quaritur uita aut amittitur'. Perhaps Margery here misremembers and Julian was rather speaking of Augustine's account of Monica's tears, Confessions 3.12, recalled also by Birgitta's vision in the Holy Sepulchre concerning the fate of her son, Charles.

Julian next discusses evil:

There is a parallel in Julian/Margery's wording here to the commentaries upon the Psalms Qui habitat and Bonum est, attributed to Walter Hilton and both present in the Westminster Cathedral Julian Manuscript. Has Julian intended not ' city' but 'seat ' in W101v, P116 and 144-145, A112, or has Margery misheard the word? But perhaps Julian deliberately plays upon the likeness of the two words. She may be using the concept expressed throughout Luke 14 where guests need to exercise humility to enter the Kingdom of God, a kingdom that is within us.

Apart from the Hilton and Julian texts in the Westminster Manuscript, making this same point are other texts associated with Julian: Norwich Castle Manuscript, fol. 78v: . . . iusti sedes est sapiencie ffor as seith holy write the soule of the ry3tful man or womman is the see & dwelling of endeles wisdom that is goddis sone swete ihe If we been besy & doon our deuer to fulfille the wil of god & his pleasaunce thanne loue we hym wit al our my3te; and likewise John Whiterig, Contemplating the Crucifixion; from Anima iusti sedes est sapiencie: Proverbs 10.25b; cited, Gregory, Hom. XXXVIII in Evang. PL 76, 1282.

With that last comment, '& o I trut, yter, þat 3e ben', we realise that we certainly are listening to reported speech and that Dame Julian addressed Dame Margery, her 'evyn cristen', even as 'Sister'. The discussion of evil reminds one more of William Flete's Remedies Against Temptations than it does of Julian's 'sin as nought'. Interestingly, this phrasing concerning the soul as a city is closer to that of the Sixteenth Showing in the 1393/1580 Paris Manuscript, P143v-145v, and the 1413/1450s Amherst Manuscript, A112, which both give vestiges of the Lord and the Servant Parable, than it is to the earlier version, the Fourteenth Showing, present in the Westminster, W101-102v, and Paris, P116-119, Manuscripts.

Julian's 'Sovereign Might, Sovereign Wisdom, Sovereign Goodness' as the Trinity is discussed in 'Julian and Judaism'. This can be compared to the 1368/1500s Westminster Manuscript's more subtle account concerning Julian's vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, the City of God, within one's own soul, W101-102v: The Paris Manuscript gives first the Westminster Manuscript version as part of the Fourteenth Showing, greatly expanding it, while noting that it is to be spoken of again later in the Sixteenth Showing, P116-119. In that Sixteenth Showing it is given just as in the Amherst Manuscript, where it appears to be in the form of Julian's consolatory sermon for those who would have felt lost and bewildered by the subtlety of the earlier, far more precocious account, P144-145. W101v-102v and P116-119 are now excised from the text. But elements of it can be traced elsewhere in Julian's words to Margery, especially where they all speak of 'communynge & da=liance therwith', W101-101v, 'comenyng and dalyance ther with', P118v.5-6, (though in Amherst these words, 'daliaunce'. 'commones', sadly occur only in connection with the evil spirit and the soul, A114v.31-115.1), and Margery's use of these same words for her soul talk with Julian: 'the holy dalyawns that the ankres & this creature haddyn be comownyng in the lofe of owyr lord Jhesu crist'.

Of interest, too, is that the Amherst Manuscript contains not only Julian's Showing of Love but also Jan van Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone, translated into Middle English. Both Julian's Sixteenth Showing, P146, and the Sparkling Stone make use of Revelation 2.17. The Amherst Manuscript, A118, gives the text from Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone discussing the Apocalypse of St John as the 'Book of the Secrets of God' addressed 'To him that overcometh', in which 'the spirit says in the Apocalyps vincenti says he schalle gyffe hym a lytil white stone and in it a newe name the whiche no man knowes but he that takys it' . This is material Julian well could have shared with Margery.

Julian continues:

Margery then ends her account by saying: John Milton and George Eliot have spoken of books as souls and cities as souls, George Eliot in Middlemarch IX giving us:

1st Gent.  An ancient land in ancient oracles
                Is called "law-thirsty:" all the struggle there
                Was after order and a perfect rule.
                Pray, where lie such lands now? . .
2nd Gent. Why, where they lay of old - in human souls.

Julian and Margery inscribe within the pages of their books their souls and their cities, black-clad Julian in her anchorhold in Norwich inscribing within that small space all the cosmos and its Creator while Margery in her white pilgrim robes trudges to Jerusalem and back.

Julian was readied for printing by Brigittine nuns but it was too dangerous to publish her under Henry VIII or Elizabeth I. (Her text was finally printed by Serenus Cressy in 1670, having been readied for printing by English Benedictine nuns in exile). Margery Kempe, however, was published. The Cell of Self Knowledge published by Henry Pepwell in 1521 was re-published by Edmund G. Gardner, who notes that

'She has come down to us only in a tiny quarto of eight pages printed by Wynkyn de Worde:

     "Here begynneth a shorte treatyse of contemplacyon taught by our lorde Jhesu cryste, or taken out of the boke of Margerie kempe of Lynn."

And at the end:

     "Here endeth a shorte treatyse called Margerie kempe de Lynn. Enprynted in Fletestrete by Wynkyn de worde."
Gardner goes on to say:

The only known copy is preserved in the University of Cambridge. It is undated, but appears to have been printed in 1501. With a few insignificant variations, it is the same as was printed twenty years later by Pepwell, who merely inserts a few words like "Our Lord Jesus said unto her," or "she said," and adds that she was a devout ancress. Tanner, not very accurately, writes: "This book contains various discourses of Christ (as it is pretended) to certain holy women; and, written in the style of modern Quietists and Quakers, speaks of the inner love of God, of perfection, et cetera." No manuscript of the work is known to exist, and absolutely no traces can be discovered of the "Book of Margery Kempe," out of which it is implied by the Printer that these beautiful thoughts and sayings are taken.
     There is nothing in the treatise itself to enable us to fix its date. It is, perhaps, possible that the writer or recipient of these revelations is the "Margeria filia Johannis Kempe," who, between 1284 and 1298, gave up to the prior and convent of Christ Church, Canterbury, all her rights in a piece of land with buildings and appurtenances, "which falls to me after the decease of my brother John, and lies in the parish of Blessed Mary of Northgate outside the walls of the city of Canterbury." The revelations show that she was (or had been) a woman of some wealth and social position, who had abandoned the world to become an ancress, following the life prescribed in that gem of early English devotional literature, the Ancren Riwle. It is clearly only a fragment of her complete book (whatever that may have been); but it is enough to show that she was a worthy precursor of that other great woman mystic of East Anglia: Juliana of Norwich. For Margery, as for Juliana, Love is the interpretation of revelation, and the key to the universal mystery:

     "Daughter, thou mayst no better please God, than to think continually in His love."

     "If thou wear the habergeon or the hair, fasting bread and water, and if thou saidest every day a thousand Pater Nosters, thou shalt not please Me so well as thou dost when thou art in silence, and suffrest Me to speak in thy soul."

     "Daughter, if thou knew how sweet thy love is to Me, thou wouldest never do other thing but love Me with all thine heart."

     "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."

     And, from the midst of her celestial contemplations, rises up the simple, poignant cry of human suffering: "Lord, for Thy great pain have mercy on my little pain."

Until Hope Emily Allen identifed the Butler-Bowden manuscript in 1934 this was all that was known of The Book of Margery Kempe.
She next edited it for the Early English Text Society, which has yet to edit the text of Julian of Norwich or to publish those of Walter Hilton.

Archbishop Arundel, supporting Henry IV's usurpation of the throne from Richard II, acted oppresively against Lollardy and, indeed, against all contemplative writing for the laity, unless by license. Thus the Carthusian Nicholas Love's A Mirror of the Life of Christ was permitted (a translation from the Italian work, written originally by Franciscans) was allowed, but not others. However, the Charterhouses in England still continued transcribing and composing works of contemplative spirituality until driven abroad at the Reformation, first under Henry VIII, then under Elizabeth I. This epistle, edited by James Hogg, represents such a work, written indeed by one who appreciated and treasured within his monastery's walls Margery Kempe's Book.

Richard Methley, O.Cart. (
1527/8) To Hew Heremyte: A Pystyl of Solytary Life Nowadayes. Ed. James Hogg.

Mount Grace Priory


My interest in Richard Methley and Mount Grace Charterhouse had been aroused even before I entered the Charterhouse of Sélignac in the autumn of 1961; but my first enthusiasm for him, kindled by reading the late dom David Knowles' sympathetic account in volume II of the magisterial The Religious Orders in England was somewhat damped by the isolated references I came across in The Book of Margery Kempe, indicating a rather exaggerated emtionalism and a tendency to 'excesses'. In any event I was forced to lay him aside through the restrictions of my noviciate, but when in the autumn of 1965 the Carthusian authorities dispatched me to an ill-fated exile at the Charterhouse of Farneta (Lucca), I was allowed, by what proved subsequently to be a misunderstanding among my superiors, to devote some of my time to research on Carthusian history and spirituality, with the result that I began to study the works of Methley and his Mount Grace colleague, dom John Norton, with some care. Two English Benedictine monks, dom Phillip Jebb and dom Dominic Gaisford, placed at my disposal some preliminary transcripts that proved useful in the early stages of my researches, and, in 1967, I was unexpectedly approached by Dr Romana Guarnieri, the distinguished editor of the Archivio Italiano per la Storia della Pietà, to prepare an edition of Methley's Latin glossed translations of The Cloud of Unknowing and The Mirror of Simple Souls. After I had commenced work on the project, the Rev Edmund Colledge OSA, now professor at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at Toronto in Canda, discovered that a Jesuit friend, the Rev James Walsh, had, unknown, to him and Dr Guarnieri, already transcribed the Latin translations from the Pembroke College Cambridge MS. Understandably, my commission was annulled and the edition of James Walsh and Edmund Colledge was announced for the next number of the Archivio. To date strikes, followed by financial difficulties, have prevented the publication of what will undoubtedly be a major contribution, not only to the study of Methley, but of late medieval English spirituality in general.

As a first offering of my own researches, I am presenting an edition of Methley's to hew hereyte - a pystyl of solitary lyfe now a dayes, - a text that has been available to scholars since 1956. Unfortunately the 1956 transcription contains quite a number of obvious blunders, both as regards the Latin and the English, besides the fact that it offers a half-hearted modernised text, useless for critical purposes.

Writings by late medieval English Carthusians are few in number, and Campbell's statement that ' . . . the greater portion of the works written by the English Carthusians in the sixteenth century were destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries . . . may tend to give an impression of a greater literary activity then, in fact, the Carthusians were capable of, though we do know that some of Methley's works have perished. Thus, apart from the extant original writings in the London Public Record Office Collection SP 1/239, the Experimentum Veritatis (fols. 1-24v), Dormitorium Dilecti Dilecti (25-48), and Refectorium Salutis (49-70v), there is a reference in the Experimetum Veritatis to an apology for the solitary life that cannot be traced. The Refectorium Salutis contains allusions to three further treatises that have also disappeared, whilst in the Dorimitorium Dilecti Dilecti he refers to a work entitled Cellarium, compiled in 1484.

Seen together with his translations in the Pembroke College, Cambridge, MS 221, Methley was obviously a prolific writer on spiritual topics, and surely found superiors more sympathetic to his aims that I was destined to break against in the late 1960's. However, as Campbell observes of such Carthusian works as have survived from the pre-Reformation period,

. . . those that are extant are singularly spiritual, summoning the individual to a life of faith and active and meditative prayer. In this 'silent' preaching the Carthusians were carrying out the command of their great twelfth-century Prior of the Grande Chartreuse, Guigo I, who urged that 'books should be industriously written'. Since their vow of silence forbids preaching the word of God with their mouths, 'we must', he wrote, 'do so with our hands'.
. . .
We do not know the date of Methley's letter to Hugh the Hermit, but, though simple, it shows a marked wisdom, discretion, and yet a touch of firmness in dealing with the difficulties of the eremitical life. It is pleasing to find that his teaching stands in the same tradition as that which his more famous Yorkshire neighbour, St Aelred of Rievaulx, gave to his sister in the twelfth century.

Mount Grace Priory

folio 266
                                               to hew heremyte
Here begynneth a pystyl of solytary lyfe now a dayes
                                                                                                          Capitulum j.
od almyghty al wytty al lovely in whome is al goodnes the wel of mercy & grace: the gloryous trynyte one god & persones thre: that is for to say, the fader & the sonne & the holy gost: He blys vs with his gracyous goodnes & bryng vs vnto his blys in hevyn. Dere broder in christ Iesu thy desyre is good & holy that thou wold be infourmed after thy state that is an herimyt: How thou shuldest pleas god to his worship & profight to thy selfe. God for his mykyl mercy mekenes & grace: gyfe vs bothe grace me to say wel: & the to do therafter to his worship and our mede Amen.
                                                                                                          Capitulum ij.
ripe me de inimicis meis domine ad te confugi, doce me facere voluntatem tuam, quia deus meus es tu. That is to say in englisshe thus Lord delyver me fro myn enemys to the I haue fled. Tech me for to do thy wyl for thou art my god. These wordys are perteynyng to al christen pepyl that askys to be delyuerd fro ther enemyse bodely & gostly the which do fle fro the love of the world: but specyally they perteyne to the that hast fled to god in the wyldernes fro mannys felyship: that thou may the better lerne to do his wil for he is thy god & thou art to love hym specyally. Therfor how thou shalt aske hym to be delyuerd fro thyn enemys I shal by his grace tel the.
                                                                                                          Capitulum iij.
hou hast pryncypally thre enemys - the world thy flesshe & the evil spyryt. Thou mayst fle fro the world to god. But thy flesshe & thy enemye wyl go with the in to the wyldernes. Thou hast mervel why I say in to the wyldernes whan thou dwellyst in a fayer chapel of our lady blessyd worshipped & thanked mu[s]t she be. Aske no more felyshyp for to talke with al but her I pray the: & then I sey that thou dwellyst wel in the wyldernes and sythen yt ys so that thou hast fled fro al women: yf thou may not fle fro thyn owne flesshe, have no woman in thy mynde so ofte as her, & then wel I wot thou shalt overcome thy thre enemys by thes thre vertues that ys to say, agaynst thyn enemy gostly obedyence, agayn thy flesshe clene chastyte; agaynst the world, that thou turne not to yt agayn bot kep pouerte with a good wyl. And then may thou wel say to god almyghty. Lord delyuer me fro myn enemyes for I haue fled to the teche me to do thy wyl, for thou art my god Eripe me de inimicis meis, domine ad te confugi doce me facere voluntatem tuam quia deus meus es tu.
                                                                                                          Capitulum iiij.
vt how shalt thou kepe wel obedyence chastyte & poverty. Be obedyent to god almyghty after hys lawe: & as thou promysed before the byshop whan thou toke the to an heremyte lyfe & also now be obedyent to thy curete that ys thy gostly fader after god & hath charge of thy soule. Remember the then euery mornyng and evenyng what thou art bounden to, and thanke god that hath called the therto & aske hym mercy of al that thou hast not wel kept & say to hym thus Eripe me de inimicis meis domine ad te confugi doce me facere voluntatem tuam quia deus meus es tu And aske hyn grace for to do bettyr in tyme for to come.
                                                                                                          Capitulum vtum
lso clene chastyte must thou nedys kepe. I know none other in the but thou doste kepe yt. But yet I shal tel as I trow wyl do /f. 266v/ the good, by goddys grace, and thou kepe clene chastyte by goddys grace in body & in soule trewly to pleas god and our lady with al, ther ys no vertue that so sone shal bryng the to the trew felyng of the loue of god in erthe. But how shalt thou kepe yt by grace perfightly. Fle al womens felyshyp & ryse vp in thy thought in thy hert & in thy worde to god in hevyn & say thus Iesu Iesu Iesu
Eripe me de inimicis meis domine. Ad te confugi doce me facere voluntatem tuam quia deus meus es tu
                                                                                                           Capitulum vj.
nd I let the wyt ther is no maner of way that is leful to the to haue the lust of thy flesshe. And thynke on wel that I say no maner of way: nowther lyttyl nor mekyl nowther one way nowther other. And therfor a remedy I shal nowe tel the & I pray the kepe yt wele. Thy thought may not be clene alway. But yf yt be in hevyn with god & our lady or with some other good seynt or Aungel And thy thought be there with love, drede & reuerence & mekenes: than dwellys thou ther as seynt paule sayth Nostra conuersacio in celis est Our lyvynge ys in hevyn. And I pray the love wel our blessyd lady & let her be thy leman swete: and say to her thus Tota pulchra es amica mea & macula non est in te. Al fayer thou art o leman myne & ther s not one spot in the, And to her pray & by her sende thy prayers to god and say thus
Eripe me de inimicis meis domine ad te confugi doce me et cetera 

                                                                                                            Capitulum vij.
gaynst ryches of the world ys wylful pouerte a good remedy. And yt ys callyd wylful pouerte for yt must be with a good wyl, and yt wold by ful of a good wyl, yf thou kepe yt perfightly. But how shall thou come to this good wel. By the love of god. For scripture saith thus, Si dederit homo omnem substanciam domus sue pro dileccione quasi non despiciet eam. If a man shuld haue gyven al the ryches of his howse for the loue of god: as yt were no3t he shal despyse yt And I say & thou feld onys in thy hert the love of god, thou woldest despyse al the world. Not despysyng the creatures of god: But thynkyng in comparyson of the love of god: al the world ys but vanyte. And therfore whan thou art temptyed to haue goodys of the world: at the first begynnyng of thy thought tary no longer but say to god thus in englisshe or in latyn as thou hast most deuocyon Eripe me de inimicis meis domine et cetera. And I shall teche the to vnderstand wel this verse O domine O lord eripe delyver thou me, me de inimicis meis of myn enemys confugi I have fled al togedyr ad te to the Doce me teche me, facere voluntatam tuam to do thy wyl quia deus meus es tu for why thou art my god.

                                                                                                            Capitulum viiij.
ther thre thynges ther is nedeful for the to kepe wele, one ys thy syght, an other thy sel, the third ys thy sylens that ys to say hold thy tonge wel. Thy syght must be nedys kepyd wel fro vanytes & than thynke to come to hevyns blys, for the /f. 267/ prophete Ieremy saith thus. Oculus meus depredatus est animam meam. Myne eye hath deprayd my soul Thatys to say myn eye hath refte my soule a pray: as theves do the which lue in the weys syde to rob men & wayten ther pray when ony come by. So whan thou shuldest thynke on godnes that is for to say on god & hevynly or helthful thynges for thy soule: thyn eye wil rauysshe thy mynde here & there but yf thou kepe yt wel, & then as ofte as thou synnest thereby, so ofte robbys thou thy soule as a robber in the way. And as great as the synne ys: so great a vertue takest thou fro thy soule & so great a stroke gyves thou thy soule And wete thou wel that ther ys no synne lytel: but in comparyson of a greater yt ys no lytel thng to offend god almyghty. And have no dowte thou shalt haue great stryfe with thy selfe or thou canst ouer come thy sight. But aske god mercy helthe & grace & say to hym thus Eripe me de inimicis meis et cetera.

                                                                                                             Capitulum ixum 
hy Selle ys the second thyng that I sayd, and what cal I thy selle trowest thou but the place or the chapel of owr blessed lady where thou dwellyst. And wote thou wel, thou has great cause to kepe yt wel, for thou that not rynne here & there to seke thy lyvyng. God hath prouyded for the, and therfor kepe thy selle, & yt wyl kepe the fro synne. Be no home rynner for to see mervels no gangrel fro towne to towne, no land leper wavyng in the wynde lyke a laverooke. But kepe thy sel & yt wyl kepe the. But now thou sayst peraduenture thou mayst not kepe yt for thou art sent for to gentils in the contre whome thou dare not displeas. I answer & say thus. Tel them that thou hast forsakyn the world & therfor but in the tyme of very great nede as in the tyme of dethe or such other great nede; thou mayst not let thy deuocion. And when thou shalt help them loke thou do yt trewly for the love of god & take no thyng but for thy cost. And when thou syttest by thy one in the wyldernes & art yrke or wery. Say this to our lady as saynt Godryke sayd that holy hermyte: Sancta maria virgo mater Iesu christi nazareni protege et adiuua tuum hugonem suscipe et adduce cito tecum in tuum regnum vel in dei regnum. He said adiuua tuum godricum, but thou [may say] tuum hugonem, for thy name ys hewe. This is thus to say in englyshe Saynt mary mayden & moder of Iesu christ of Nazareth holde & helpe thy hewe & lede soaue with the in thy kingdom or say in to the kingdom of god bothe ys good. And I councel the love wel saynt hew of our order of the chartyr monkes. But now thou sayst I trowe thou must come forthe to here messe that ys ful wel semyng but yf thou had masses song withyn thy chapel. But when thou hast hard masse: then fle home but if thou haue a ful good cause as thou sayst in this verse Ad te confugi, to the lord I haue fled holy bothe body & soule as thou [art] my al. For & thou fle with thy body & not with thy hert fro the world, then art thou a fals ypocryte as scripture sayth/ f. 267v/ Simulatores callidi prouocant iram dei that is thus in englisshe Fals wyly dyssemblers prouoke the yre of god therfore in thy nede agaynst such temptacyons say this verse Eripe me de inimicis meis et cetera.

                                                                                                                Capitulum x m.
he third thyng ys thy sylence. And wete thou wele: yt wyl do the great good and then thynk thus in thy hert makyng no vowe but yf thou lyst Good lord by thy grace I thynke this day to kepe wel my tong to thy worshyp & my wele And specually on fastyng dayes I councel the kepe thy sylence & speke with no creature & thou mayst eschew yt. I have knowen some holy persons that wold so kepe ther sylence as on fryday on wednesday or great sayintes evyns. And the prophet Dauyd sayth thus Obmutui & humiliatus sum & silui a bonis. I  have hold my tongue & I have bene mekyd and I haue kepyd me styl fro good speche. Note wel what he sayth. Fro good thynges or fro good speche I haue kept me styl. And why For fere that among good speche happon some yl. For wote thou wel thou canst not speke mekyl good speche but some wylbe voyd or yl And on the day of dome euery man must gyf a counte of euery ydel worde that he spekyth And therfore eschew speche. And when thou felyst the temptyd to speke say this verse Eripe me domine et cetera.

                                                                                                                Capitulum xj.
ow thou mayst aske me how thou shalt be occupied day & nyght. I say with thy dewty that thou art bounden to And then with more that thou puttest to yt by grace & thy deuocyon. Fyve thinges ther be accordyng for the that yys to say Good prayer, medytacyon that is callyd holy thynkyng, redyng of holy englisshe bokes, Contemplacyon that thou mayst come to by grace and great deuocyon, that ys for to day to forget al manner of thynges but god & for great love of hymn: be rapt in contemplacyon, and good dedys with thy hand. And I pray the do thyn owne chores thy selfe & thou may and when thou art temptyd to haue worke men where no myster ys say the sayd verse Eripe me et cetera.

                                                                                                                Capitulum xij
hat I say now I pray the gyf good hede. Scripture sayth thus. Non enim habet amaritudinem conuersacio illorum nec tedium conuictus illius: sed leticiam & gaudium. Vnderstonde yt thus. The conuersacyon that ys to say the holy lyvyng of a good man hath no bytternes in hert nor yrksomenes to lyfe with god but gladnes & ioy. So if thou wilt lyfe alway in ioy: kepe thy thought alway on god with ove & drede & other vertues. And in the mornyng & evenyng vse long prayers or other spiritual exercyses as ys medytacyon as I sayd before & other lyke & betwene morne & evyn many prayers or spiritual exercyses but shortly & ofte & werke betwixt them & in the tyme of thy werke let not they mynd go fro god. And in the begynnyng thou shalt fele some penaunce or payne, but ever after thou shalt lyfe lyke a throstel cok or a nyghtyng gale for ioy and thanke god & pray for me & as ofte as thou haste myster sayd the said verse Eripe me et cetera. Deo gracias Amen quoth Ricardus methley de Monte gracie ordinis carthusiensis fratri Hugoni deuoto heremite.

III. The Preservers of Contemplative Manuscripts in Exile from England

A. The Brigittines

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

Dames Margaret Gascoigne (†1637)  and Bridget More, OSB (†1665)

Dame Bridget More, OSB

ame Margaret Gascoigne, OSB, an exiled English Benedictine nun at Cambrai in Flanders, died there in 1637, hers being the first grave within the shadow of their monastic house. Before that date she had compiled a contemplative anthology of her devotions. In its Chapter Forty-Two, she had copied out a fragment from a medieval Julian exemplar likely present at Cambrai, and commented upon its text. She misreads, or only partially reads, the text, believing that Julian dies, rather than lives, following her death-bed vision of 1373. Nevertheless she responds appropriately to her reading, taking Julian's experiencing of God's presence into her own intense life of monastic prayer. In so doing she is part of a Benedictine continuity of contemplation, a continuity that transcends time and gender, caring only that the soul be oned with God in eternity that equally included women with men, to be attained in a community where all are vowed to conversion from worldliness, to stability and to obedience.

Dame Margaret Gascoigne's book of devotions would likely have been found in her cell at her death and was treasured by her Benedictine Sisters who particularly made copies of it when the Cambrai daughter house was founded at Paris. The copy that survives, called by Placid Spearitt, OSB, 'Gascoigne B', was most carefully made by Dame Bridget More, OSB, descendant of Thomas More, sister of the foundress of the Cambrai Our Lady of Consolation, Dame Gertrude More, OSB, and herself first Prioress of the Paris Our Lady of Good Hope. Another of their relatives was Dame Agnes More, again a descendant of Thomas More, who wrote a treatise influenced by Julian of Norwich, titled The Building of Divine Love. While Dame Clementia Cary, OSB, was the Foundress of the Paris house; being the daughter of Viscount Falkland, Viceroy in Ireland, she had contacts with Caroline royalty, especially Queen Henrietta Maria, and she brought with her into community her father's chaplain, Serenus Cressy, OSB, who would publish the first edition of Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love in 1670. Dame Margaret Gascoigne had been sister to Dame Catherine Gascoigne, OSB, who was elected first Abbess of Our Lady of Consolation in Cambrai in 1629, both coming from Yorkshire, their niece, Dame Justina Gascoigne, succeeding Dame Bridget More as Prioress at Our Lady of Good Hope in Paris in 1665.

The party of English women had settled in Cambrai in 1623, and within six months they had petitioned the President of the English Congregation to send them a monk qualified to train them in Benedictine contemplative prayer. In answer, they were joined in 1624 by Father Augustine Baker, OSB, who became their spiritual director until his stormy removal in 1633, when he returned to Douai. He went back to England in 1638, dying there in 1641.

The Paris daughter house, founded in 1651, brought forth an intense burst of copying of all devotional books in the Cambrai library prior to that removal, the greatest number being executed by Dame Barbara Constable, who had joined the Cambrai community from Yorkshire in 1645,(3) the copied books including Dame Bridget More's manuscript of Dame Margaret Gascoigne (today, St Mary's Abbey, Colwich, H18, folios 155-161), Dame Barbara Constable's fragmentary manuscript of Julian's Showing of Love (Upholland Manuscript), and Dame Clementia Cary's complete manuscript of Julian's Showing of Love (British Library, Sloane 1). Another complete manuscript is found with Sloane 1 and given the siglum S2. Both these manuscripts have careful annotations made in preparation for the 1670 first edition. Yet another manuscript is the most carefully prepared Stowe 42, turning the queries and NBs of S1 and S2 into carefully prepared but not quite finished shoulder notes from which Serenus Cressy's 1670 edition was to be typeset. All these manuscripts tend to give the words to Christ to Julian in larger script than they do the texts in which these are embedded.

How did Margaret Gascoigne and the Cambrai and Paris communities come by a medieval exemplar of Julian's Showing of Love? It is possible that they acquired the exemplar for the Paris Long Text, Bibliothèque Nationale, Anglais 40 (which in their day was shut up in the Bigot collection in Rouen), but which had been copied out by Syon Abbey in exile in Flanders. They could have obtained that exemplar from Sheen Anglorum. But the manuscripts of G, U, S1 and S2 all differ from P in that they enlarge or underline Christ's words to Julian, while P rubricates them. The other possibility is that Dame Margaret Gascoigne had treasured a Julian manuscript that had remained in her family since the days of Thomas Gascoigne, Chancellor of Oxford and patron of Syon Abbey, and which was to engender in turn G, U, S1, S2, C1 and Serenus Cressy's published edition from C1 as C2.

These texts were read and copied in the midst of a living community of prayer and contemplation, and one that continues today at Stanbrook and at Colwich. But the Sisters had to fight with every weapon of love and obedience to preserve their manuscripts, including their manuscript of Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love. In 1655, they were ordered by Dom Claude White, then President of the English Benedictine Congregation, to surrender their contemplative books which were perceived 'to containe poysonous, pernicious and diabolicall doctrine'. The Abbess and the Sisters prostrated themselves before Dom White, refusing, in charity, to surrender their books (one of them their exemplar manuscript of Julian's Showing of Love),

It was perhaps, knowing of such danger to their books, that Cambrai had already carefully duplicated these for their Paris daughter house. There, once again, their spiritual director was favourable to Augustine Baker's methods for encouraging contemplation in the seventeenth century through the reading and writing of fourteenth-century texts. Father Serenus Cressy, OSB, their chaplain, not only encouraged their scribal activity, but he had them help him prepare an excellent edition of Julian of Norwich's Showing for its eventual 1670 publication. That strategy of carefully copying out their contemplative books from the past, preserving them for the future, stood the English Benedictines in good stead. When most of the Cambrai books were lost at the French Revolution, those at Paris to a large extent survived, including Dame Bridget More's copy of Dame Margaret Gascoigne's Devotions with its passage from Julian's Showing of Love written out in a most lovely hand and lovingly sewn together, and which were brought to England to safety. To England also came the Upholland Manuscript with its Julian excerpts copied out by Dame Barbara Constable. Her portrait survives.(6) To England likewise came the two Sloane Manuscripts with their complete copies of Julian's Showing of Love, the first copied out by Dame Clementia Cary, Foundress of the Paris house. Perhaps even the Westminster Cathedral Manuscript was shipped back to England from Lisbon's Syon Abbey in exile during this period. Perhaps only the Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Anglais 40, remains now in exile. But, on the other hand, perhaps there are two further Julian of Norwich Showing of Love manuscripts on the Continent, the lost exemplar manuscripts, which may still be in Holland and in Belgium, and which the writer of this Juliansite essay challenges her readers to find.



Since editing the above I enquired of Dame Margaret Truran about their manuscript of Augustine Baker on Dame Margaret Gascoigne and she has kindly sent the following:

The passage in Fr Baker’s Life and Death of Dame Margaret Gascoigne on Julian of Norwich runs as follows (my transcript).
"She upon Sunday at night, being the Vigil of St Laurence, in bed beginning to be distressed in body, and the next morning after being present at Mass she there fainted and was carried thence into the Infirmary where remaining to her expiration or last Agony in perfect use of her senses, she for that space spent her thoughts wholly towards God, and in preparation for death, if God should please to send it, and which she esteemed (considering how she found her state of body) would be her lot by means of the Extraordinary Indisposition & sickness she was now in. Towards the said good Preparation for Death, and to hold her the more continually and efficaciously therein, she caused one that was oft conversant & familiar with her to place (written at and underneath the Crucifix, that remained there before her, and which she regarded with her eyes during her sickness and till her death) the holy words that had sometime been spoken by God to the holy Virgin Juliana the Anchoress of Norwich, as appeareth by the Old Manuscript Book of her Revelations, and with the which words our Dame had ever formerly been much delighted: ‘Intend (or attend) to me. I am enough for thee: rejoice in me thy Saviour and in thy salvation.’ Those words, I say, remained before her eyes beneath the Crucifix till her death." Stanbrook Baker MS 19 (copy of Downside Abbey Baker MS 42), pp 46-47.
Gaudium Paschale!

Sr Margaret OSB

Dame Barbara Constable, OSB  (†    )

Dame Barbara Constable, OSB

n the seventeenth century exiled English nuns were reading, copying out and contemplating upon fourteenth-century texts, one of these being Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love. Dame Barbara Constable, OSB, in particular, in her clearly legible hand, was responsible for the copying out of innumerable Augustine Baker manuscripts, - as they are called by English Benedictine monks. But many of these texts are less those of Father Augustine Baker, OSB,'s writings, than they are of the writings of mystics which he encouraged the English Benedictine nuns to use in their own devotional writings, for their own libraries for contemplation. Dame Barbara Constable in these pages is copying out St Teresa of Avila, Henry Suso, Julian of Norwich (whom she calls 'St Iulian') and John Tauler. She herself never left Cambrai once she entered in 1638, yet her manuscripts made their way to Paris and also to the men's Benedictine abbeys and to the mission in England.

One reason for the great amount of copying done by Dame Barbara Constable and others at Cambrai was because of dissension amongst the English Benedictines, the nuns desiring to continue Father Augustine Baker's contemplative practices, for which he had obtained for them medieval manuscripts from Sir Robert Cotton during his time at Cambrai, 1624-1633, the monks wishing to suppress this activity and call in and censor these texts, first in 1633 and again in 1655. To prevent their loss the nuns, amidst great poverty, even established a daughter house in Paris, in 1651, taking to it duplicates of all their texts, hurriedly made out 1650-1651. Manuscripts of Julian's Showing of Love are mentioned twice in their catalogue, now in the Bibliothèque Mazarine, which was confiscated from the English nuns at the French Revolution. In 1655 the nuns defied the monks, going so far as to threaten to withdraw from the English Benedictine Congregation, rather than relinquish their books on spirituality, their most prized being Julian's Showing of Love. The nuns in Paris had already in their Consitution itself, written out both in English by Dame Clementia Cary, OSB, in English, and in French by Dame Bridget More, OSB, stated that the community would continue in the contemplative practices taught them by the Venerable Augustine Baker, OSB The English nuns in exile were preserving Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love three hundred years after it was written in Norwich and three hundred years before we ourselves - around the world - could hold her text in our hands.

Serenus Cressy, OSB, became the chaplain at the Paris daughter house for a brief period, having already strong associations with the Cary family. He published Augustine Baker's Sancta Sophia or Holy Wisdom , describing these devotional practices based on the Cloud Author's writings, William Flete's Remedies Against Temptations (thought to be by Richard Rolle) and Hilton's Scale of Perfection with its prayer of the pilgrim, 'I am nought, I have nought, I seek nought, but sweet Jesus in Jerusalem'. Cressy also published the writings of Dame Gertrude More, Dame Bridget More's sister, who had founded the Cambrai mother house. These two biological sisters were direct descendants of St Thomas More. Then in 1670 Cressy published the editio princeps, the first edition, of Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love. That text was carefully transcribed in preparation for this publication in England by these English nuns in exile in France, and to do so they collated all their manuscripts of Julian, one of them a now lost medieval exemplar to the two Sloane versions of the Long Text, another a Tudor exemplar like that of Paris, copied out by them into Stowe 42. Thus these nuns had in their possession no less than seven manuscripts in total or in part of Julian's Showing of Love, five of which still exist, two at Cambrai being lost at the Revolution.

Following the French Revolution these English Benedictine nuns returned to England, bringing some of their fine library of medieval contemplative texts with them, while other manuscript books of theirs remain in France. But the Cambrai collection was largely lost, those English Benedictines having been imprisoned at Compiègne with the French Carmelites, the latter of whom were then guillotined, the English nuns inheriting their clothing. Cambrai's Our Lady of Consolation is today Stanbrook Abbey in Worcester, Paris' Our Lady of Good Hope is St Mary's Abbey, Colwich, Stafford.

Of interest is that Dame Margaret Gascoigne and Dame Barbara Constable both present Christ's words to Julian in larger letters, a trait seen also in Westminster in one instance, and throughout in Sloane 3709. When Serenus Cressy took Stowe 42, which instead reduces these words both to differentiate them from the rest of the text, and to save paper, the printer elected to print them instead in italics. In the Paris Manuscript, which at this time was still in Rouen where the Brigittine nuns had left it in their flight in time of war to Lisbon, and to which the English Benedictines lacked all access, Christ's words to Julian are in red, rubricated, a practice familiar to the Brigittines who customarily wrote the Office books so for the next entrant into Syon Abbey following themselves.

Dame Barbara selected fine passages from Julian's Showing of Love, culling these from the Twelfth and Thirteenth Revelations and from Chapters 28, 30 and 32, then followed that selection with a discussion on the Way of Perfection as exemplified in the writings of the two Friends of God, Henry Suso and John Tauler, all of the fourteenth century.

When Hywel Wyn Owen examined the Upholland Manuscript he found it was bound in a piece of the same office book as another manuscript at Colwich, H18, which also contains a fragment from Julian's Showing of Love. This other manuscript is where Dame Bridget More, OSB, descendant of St Thomas More, copied out the contemplative anthology written originally by Dame Margaret Gascoigne, OSB, who had died at Cambrai in 1637.

This Upholland Manuscript became separated from both Abbeys and, according to the Julian scholar, Sister Benedicta Ward, S.L.G, who sought information concerning it, is lost. But Father Eric Colledge, O.S.A., had earlier given to Stanbrook a bound photocopy of the entire text. Because the foliation in the manuscript is incorrect, the verso being written not on the back of the folio but on the subsequent page, that given in Hywel Wyn Owen and Luke Bell's article, 'The Upholland Anthology: An Augustine Baker Manuscript', The Downside Review (1989), 274-292, is also incorrect, so when I requested Dame Easnwyth Edwards, OSB, to photocopy for me the relevant Julian pages, two are lacking. I supply them from Hywel Wyn Owen's transcription. The remainder is taken directly from the photocopy of the Upholland Manuscript. It also gives the two following pages, which are not Julian's Showing of Love, but instead a discourse upon the way of perfection, citing Suso and Tauler.


[Folio 113]

And after this our lord shewed himselfe more glorifyed, as to my sight then I had seene him before; wherin I was learned to know that our soule shall neuer haue rest till it come into him; knowing that he is full of ioy, homely and curteous, and most blessed and true life. oftentimes our lord Iesu sayd. I it am, That is highest. I it am, that you louest. I it am that thou likest. I it am that you seruest. I it am that thou longest after. I it am that you desirest. I it am. that thou meanest. I it am, that is all. I it am that shewed myself to thee before.

The number of the words passeth my witts and vnderstanding, and all my mights, for they were in the highest, as to my sight;


for therein is comprehended I am not able to tell what, so that it cannot be expressed. But the ioy that I saw in the shewing of them exceedingly surpasseth all that hart can thinke, or soule may desire. And therefore these words (the meaning of them) be not declared heere; but euery one according to the grace god hath giuen him in vnderstanding and louing, let them receaue them in our lords meaning.

And after this our lord brought to my mind, the longing desire I had to him before. And I saw that nothing letted or hindred vs but sinne. And me thought if sinne had not bin, we should all haue bin cleane and pure, and like to our lord as hee made and created vs. And thus in my folly before this time I often wondered why, by the forsaid great wisedome of god the beginning of sinne was not hindred or preuented, for then me thought that all should haue bin well. This stirring and


thought in my mind; I should haue forsaken and not haue yealded vnto it; yet neuerthelesse it caused me to mourne and sorrow without discretion. but Jesu who in this vision enformed me of all thinges that were needfull, answered by this word and sayd: Sinne is behouefull, But all shall be well. In this naked worde. Sinne. our lord brought to my mind generally all that is not good.

Thus I saw how Christ hath compassion on us for the cause of sinne, for full well our lord loveth People that shall bee saued. That is to say gods servants; Holy Church shall be shaked in sorrow and anguish, and tribulation in this world, as a man shaketh a cloath in the wind. And as to this, our lord answered showing in this manner. Ah. A great thing shall I make hereof in heauen, of endles worshio and of euerlasting ioy. Yea so far forth I saw that our lord reioyceth at the tribulation of his servants with pitty and


compassion; That to each person that he loueth and intendeth to bring to his bliss he layeth on him something, that is to some affliction or tribulation, that is no impediment to the soule in the sight of God, therby they be humbled and despised in this world, scorned, mocked, and contemned by others And this he doth to hinder and preuent he harme which they are apt to fall into, and would incurre by the pride the pompe and the vaine glory of this wretched life, and for to their way the more readdy, and better prepare them to come to heauen, and enioy his blisse without end euerlasting for he sayth, I shall all to breake you from your vaine affections, and your vitius pride; and after that I shall gather you and make you meeke and mild, cleane and holy by uniting you to mee. And then I saw that each kind compassion that man hath one his euen Christian with charity, it is christ in him, whose loue to man made him to esteeme little of all the paines he suffered in his passion, which loue againe was shewed here in this compassion, wherin were two thinges to be understood in our lords meaning, the on was the blisse that we be


brought vnto, wherin his will is that we reioyce the other is, for our comfort in our paine and tribulation: for he will that wee know all shall turne to his worship and to our profit by the vertue of his holy passion: and that we know that wee suffered right no thing alone, but with him, and that we see him our ground. And that we see his paines and his tribulations so farre to exceed and surpasse all that we can suffer, that it cannot be fully thought or imagined. And the well beholding and considering of this will keepe vs from ouermuch trouble and despaire in the feeling of our paines, and we see verely that our sinnes deserue it, yet his loue excuseth vs, and of his great curtesy he doth away all our blames and beholdeth vs with ruth and merveilous pitty as children Innocents and vnspotted.

In this our Lords will it to haue us occupyed and exercise to ioy in him for he ioyeth in vs. And the more plenteously that we take of this ioying in our salluation which reuerence and humility, the more thankes


we deserue of him, and the more speedy and expedient it is to our selues. And thus we may see and enioy or reioyce in that our part is our Lord. The other part is hid and shutt up, or concealed from us. that is to say, all that is besides our salluation for that is our lords priuy counsell and it belongeth to the Royall Lordship of allmighty god to haue his priuy counsels in peace. And it belongeth to his seruants for obedience and reuerence to him, not to haue or will or desire to know his counsels, Our lord hath pitty and compassion on vs, for that some creatures do busy themselues so much therein seeking and desiring to know and vnderstand the secrets of all mighty god. And I am sure if we know how much we should please him and ease ourselues to forbear it we would do it.

The saints in heaven, thay haue a will to know nothing, but that which our Lord will shew them. And also their charity and desire is ruled according to the will of our Lord. And thus ought we to haue our will like to them; Then shall we nothing will nor desire, but the will


of our lord like as they do. for we bee all one in gods meaning. And heer I was taught that I should only enioy in our Blessed Sauiour Jesu, and trust in him for all thinges.

One time our good lord sayd, all manner of thing shall be well. And another time he sayd. Thou shalt see thyselfe that all manner of things shall be welle And these two sayings the soule tooke and vnderstood in sundry manners. One was this, that our lord will that wee know that he not only take care of and hath regard to nobel thinges and to great, but also to little and to small, to lowe and to simple, to the one and to the other. And so meaneth he in that he sayth all manner of thing shall be well. For he will that we know that the least thing shall not be forgotten. An other is this, that there be many deeds evill donne in our sight and so great harme comes, and are taken hereby that it seemeth to us that it were


impossible that euer they should come to a good end. And vpon these wee looke sorrowfull and mourne therfore, so that it cannot rest in the blessedfull holding of God as we should doe. And the cause is this, that the vse of our reason and vnderstanding is now so blind & Lowe that we cannot know nor vnderstand the high mervailous wisedome, and the goodnes of the most blessed Trinity. And thus meaneth he where he sayth Thou shalt see thy selfe that all manner of thing shall be welle, as if he had seyd take or beleeue faithfully and trust fully and hearafter thou shalt see it verely and truely in fullnes of ioy. And thus in the same fiue words before sayd: I may make all thinges well I vnderstood a mighty comfort (that wee owght to take) of all the workes of our Lord god, that are to come

[The text following that giving excerpts from Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love appears to be a contemplation by Dame Barbara Constable, OSB, or from another Benedictine, and copied out by her, concerning the way of perfection as described in the conversions of the Friends of God Henry Suso and John Tauler.]


O how exceedingly are we bound to god for discouering vnto vs this way so necessary, and whereof there is so few teachers, considering also how many soules he leaueth in want thereof, and who if they knew the way, would ioyfully prosecute it: O swee Iesus. blessed for euer be thy sweet mercyes; O how vngratefull shall wee proue if wee doe not make good vse of this great blessing of thyne and why should we doubt of thy assistance in prosecution of our way since that our good god of his loue to us and out of his desire of our saluation and perfection hath extraordinarily made knowne vnto us the way, so will he not be wanting in his grace that we may bring all to a perfect end which he intended in his discovuery vnto vs of the way we hauing the way discouered vnto us if we should neglect to tread and prosecute it with perseuerance it


had bin far better for us that we had neuer knowne it for (sayth our sauiour) the servant that knoweth the will of his master and doth it not shall be beaten with many stripes.

To come to know the way how to serue god in the way of perfection there is not meane but that it must come from god, and that by one of these two meanes either immediately from god as was the conuersion and instructions of Suso and many others or from him by the meanes of some man as was the conuersion of Thaulerus and the like hath bin of many other. And here Theleurus though he had his conuersion and some instruction at the first from the Lay man, yet afterwards in his spirituall course he was doutles guided by the spirit of god (the lay man not liuing with him

Dame Gertrude More, OSB (†1632)


Permission, Ampleforth Abbey Trustees

 century later than Father Augustine Baker's July 1624 arrival at Cambrai to give spiritual direction to the English Benedictine nuns there, a manuscript was written out, July 1724, in the Paris daughter house by an anonymous English Benedictine nun, speaking of him as 'father Anonimus'. (This was how Father Baker styled himself in his Life of Gertrude More.) Cambrai's foundation of Our Lady of Comfort would become Stanbrook Abbey, Worcestershire, and Paris' foundation of Our Lady of Good Hope, Colwich Abbey, Staffordshire, both communities returning to England from which they had lived for centuries in exile, following the French Revolution. Dame Gertrude More was the most prominent of the young English Foundresses, 1623, of Our Lady of Comfort, dying in 1633, Dame Catherine Gascoigne was its Abbess from 1629-1676. This manuscript's centennial celebration of Father Augustine Baker's method of prayer, suppressed by an atheist revolution, lost to its religious communities, deserves today being shared and used, by Stanbrook, by Colwich, and by ourselves, by religious and lay, women and men.

Dame Gertrude More and Dame Catherine Gascoigne both wrote defenses of Father Augustine Baker's teaching on prayer, presenting these to the General Chapter of the English Benedictine Congregation in 1633, when all their contemplative manuscripts were called in and examined at Cambrai. During this process, Dame Gertrude was stricken with smallpox and died. So persuasive were their two texts that the English Benedictine Congregation's Chapter told the surviving Dame Catherine, 'Goe on couragiously, you have choosen the best way: we beseech Allmighty God to accomplish that union which your hart desireth'. Dame Catherine was to have to resist again, in 1655, as Dom Augustine Baker had foretold them would happen, against the calling in again of all their contemplative manuscripts. On her deathbed in 1675, Dame Catherine Gascoigne appealed to the then-President of the English Congregation, Dom Benedict Stapylton for 'a new and very ample confirmation' of these writings, 'as being the greatest treasure that belongs to this poor community'. One reason for this conflict was that Father Augustine Baker had revived the medieval form of contemplation through studying and sharing such fourteenth-century texts as Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love , Walter Hilton's Scale of Perfection, William Flete's Remedies Against Temptations, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the works of the Continental Friends of God, like John Tauler and Henry Suso. What had become fashionable instead were the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises, of imaging, though these in turn reflected far more ancient practices connected with Paula's worship in Bethlehem and Calvary, oberved by Jerome, and copied by countless pilgrims to the Holy Places. Those contemplative writings were lost at the French Revolution, apart from two small manuscripts, one of these the Cloud Author's 'Epistle of Privat Counsell', that were preserved in the nuns' pockets during their imprisonment, 1793-1795, part of that time with the French Carmelite nuns, who were to be guillotined, in the Compiègne prison. These two manuscripts are now treasured at Stanbrook Abbey, along with the clothing of the executed Carmelites.

However, the Cambrai nuns had already founded a daughter house in Paris, in 1651, and had made sure that all their precious manuscripts, among them, Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love, were duplicated, many being written out by Dame Barbara Constable, OSB, who remained at Cambrai, and that these texts were taken with the nuns going to Paris, Dame Clementia Cary, their mother foundress, Dame Bridget More, their prioress. The Paris Our Lady of Good Hope carefully stated in their Constitution, in both the French (written by Dame Bridget More) and English (written by Dame Clementia Cary) versions, their desire to continue Dom Augustine's legacy of spiritual reading and writing, so doing deepening their call to the Benedictine religious life. Dom Serenus Cressy became the chaplain of the Paris nuns and saw to it that Dame Gertrude More's writings (1657,1658), including Gertrude More's defense of Augustine Baker's teachings (made at the same time as Catherine Gascoigne's), Augustine Baker's Sancta Sophia, Holy Wisdom (1657) and Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love (1670) were all printed and published. Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love's publication was under the patronage of  Abbot Placid Gascoigne of Lamspringe, Dame Catherine Gascoigne's brother and likewise a Benedictine, during her lifetime (A. Allanson, Biography of the English Benedictines, Ampleforth Abbey, 1999, on Placid or John Gascoigne, as Abbot, 1651-1681), Serenus Cressy noting in his preface, 'Whatsoever benefit thou mayst reap by this Book; thou art obliged for it to a More Venerable Abbot of our Nation, by whose order and liberality it is now published, and by Consequence sufficiently Approved', the marginal note identifying the benefactor as 'The V.R.F.Jo.Guscoyn.L.Abbot of Lamb-spring'. Indeed, it is likely that Catherine Gascoigne, or her sister Margaret, brought the Julian manuscript to Cambrai in the first place. The Gascoigne family claimed Sir Thomas Gascoigne, Chancellor of Oxford and devotee of St Birgitta's Syon Abbey, as relative. The Lowes, connected with Syon Abbey from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, owned Julian's Showing. Dame Margaret Gascoigne wrote about Julian's Showing, and Dame Bridget More copied her text. The Mores and Gascoignes would logically have entered Syon Abbey, then in exile in Lisbon, but for a libel published by a pirate against Syon, causing these English families with the greatest Brigittine ties, to break them and found instead Benedictine Cambrai. Thus the precious legacy of Julian of Norwich Showing of Love manuscripts changed from Brigittine cloisters to Benedictine ones, the Westminster, Amherst and Paris texts being Brigittine, Paris representing the text prepared for Tudor/Elizabethan printing by the Brigittines, the Gascoigne, Upholland, Sloane, and Stowe being Benedictine, likewise the first successfully printed edition by Serenus Cressy.

The Paris English Benedictines, as were the Cambrai English Benedictines, were imprisoned during the French Revolution, but upon finally being freed were able to negotiate the return of most of their manuscripts and books to England, where they are now to be found at Colwich Abbey. However, this manuscript, written by one of their nuns, likely found in her cell at her death as was the custom with such contemplative collections, ended up in Paris' Bibliothèque Mazarine.

Opening of Bibliothèque Mazarine 1202

This particular manuscript, dated July 23, 1724, by its scribe, an anonymous English nun in exile, is sneered at in the Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, Catalogue as the production of some superstitious monk. The manuscript is indeed prefaced with an engraving of a Benedictine monk kneeling in prayer, rays of light falling upon him. The cataloguer failed to notice that the anthology of contemplative writings was written by a woman whose humility conceals from us her identity, almost even her gender. This 'Colections' includes writings from Father Augustine Baker, the Friend of God John Tauler, Blessed Angela of Foligno, the Conversio Morum, Bishop of Cambray Fénelon's Letters of Siritual Direction , Dame Gertrude More, including excerpts of her defense of Father Augustine Baker made to the General Chapter of the English Benedictine Congregation in 1633, and Dame Catherine Gascoigne, again this being her defense of Father Augustine Baker's teaching on prayer presented to Chapter in 1633, when all manuscripts were called in. In this same library is also to be found the Catalogue of all their Cambrai Augustine Baker texts, listing as well Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love as 'The Revelations of Sainte Julian', as a manuscript which they owned but which was not from Dom Augustine Baker's collecting, plus another, now lost, manuscript, 'Colections outt of Holy Mo: Juilan' [sic.]. Furthermore this particular surviving 'Colections' manuscript includes a section written by the anonymous nun herself which gives near-quotations from Julian's Showing. This evidence tells us that the Paris house a century later than the Cambrai foundation was continuing to preserve, to live and to celebrate its contemplative legacy.

It is my hope that this transcription will return this important copy of their original Mother Abbess's text to these Abbeys' cloistered nuns at Stanbrook and at Colwich. It is a portion of their treasured lost inheritance. And likewise to share it not only in the cloister, but also with the world. That had been a major purpose of their contemplative copying and writing when in exile, to exercise the 'apostolate of the scribe' as their contribution to the English Mission of the Benedictine monks to the laity of their then lost homeland.


~ Nothing has my lord god left un
-done which might win me wholy to
himself, and make me to dispise my
self, and all created things for his
love. for when I sinned, he recal'd
me and forsook me not in that my

Permission, Ampleforth Abbey Trustees

                      Colections D.G.               322

misery of offending such an infinit
goodness so shamefully, & that alsoe
after my entrance into religion,-
nay even after my proffesion in that
blessed state, the hapiness, & worth
wherof I did not yet know by which
means I grew weary of tending bear-
-ing therin his sweet yoke and
light burthen, the which is heavy
only thro our fault, & not in it self
through which default & ignorance
of mine, it became so greivous, and
intolerable to me, that I wish'd oft-
-en it might have bine shaken of from
by me pretending it was soe incom-
-patible with my good, that I could
323          Colections D.G.

scarcely work my salvation, in
this my state & profesion, this my
god you are wittness of was true, &
soe it did continue with me about
two years, after that I had in show
forsaken the world, & the world, ind-
-eed forsaken me, but did my lord
in these biter afflictions forsake me
no, no, but he provided such a help
for me, that quickly was my sorrow
turn'd into joy, yea into such an un-
speakable joy, that it has sweetned
all the sorows which since that time
has befalen me, for as soon as my soull
was set into a way of tending to my
god by prayer and abnegation, I found

           Colections D.G.                324

all my miseries presently disperse
themselves, & come to nothing; yea
even in five weeks my soull became
so enamour'd with the yoke of this -
my dear lord, þt if I must have ma
de not only four, but even four th-
ousand vows, to have become wholy
dedicated to him, I should have em-
-braced this state with more joy, and
content then ever I did find in obta-
-ining that which ever I most of all
wish'd & desir'd; yea & thou knowest
my god by my souls being put into a
course of prayer, I seem'd to have now
found a true means, wherby I might
love without end, or measure.

325          Colections D.G.

~Woe to that soull, who over-
-come by threats, or persuasions
from without or by temptations
within her, or other occasions wt
soever gives over her mental pra
yer by mean wherof only she is ca-
-pable of diserning & folowing the
divine tract, inspiration, & will whnce
her whole good is to proceed, & ther
fore O you souls especialy that are
the more capable of internall pray-
er doe you accordingly prosecute it,
and be gratefull to god for the grace
of it, for it causeth the greatest ha-
-piness that is to be goten in this
life & an answerable hapiness, in
the future.

              Colections D.G.                  326

by it in this life one paseth through
all things how hard & painfull soever
they be by it we come to be familiar
even with god himself, & to have our
conversation in heaven, by it all im-
pediments will be removed between
god and the soull, by it you will receive
light & grace. for all that god would -
doe by you, by it you will come to reg-
-ard god in all things, & profitably
neglect your selves. by it you shall
know how to converse one earth
without preiudice to your selves souls,
and infine by it you will praise god
& become so united unto him, that
nothing shall be able to seperate

327         Colections D.G.

you for time or eternity from his
sweet goodness.

Dame Catherine Gascoigne, OSB (†1676)

Dame Catherine Gascoigne, Cambrai's  Abbess, in 1652

Dame Catherine Gascoigne's Defense of Father Augustine Baker's Way of Prayer

382  Coll: Lad: Cath: G. Prayer

My prayer I know not how to
express, but it seems to me to be a
longing and vehement desire of
the soull thirsting after the presence
of God, seeking and intending only
and wholy his will and pleasure
with as much purity of intention as
my imperfection will permit. it is
only exercised in the will, some
times in one maner, & sometimes
in another; according to the pres
ent disposition of the soull. now
humbling itself a 1000 times in þe
presence of god, now praising, ble
sing and adoring him, at other times
confounded at my great ingratitude
not daring as it were to appear in


      D. Cath: Gas: Prayer        383

his presence, or to elevate myself
towards him by love, wm I have soe
much offended, sometimes I think it
is those we call acts or aspirations,
or rather an elevation of the will tow
ards god; proceeding from an interiour
motion, & enablement to continue þe
same, yet not always with like ferv
our, for many times I find a great &
strong desire to please, and praise god
and yet am not able in any sort to doe
it, and that is my greif. but thus I see
there is no way but patience & resig-
nation, till it pleases him w° only
can enable me, when he pleases G
to doe better, for methinks the more
I strive or force my self the further

384     D. Cath: Gas: Pr:

I am from it. for everything meth
-inks even thinking of good and holy
things doe rather breed images and
cause multiplicity in the soul, and
are distractions & impediments to
me in my prayer, and tendance to
wards god, so I must keep myself
in as much quietness as may be, wth
out using violence or stress, for I
find myself most drawn to that pray
er which tends to an unity, without
adhering to any perticular creature
or image; but seeking only for that
thing wch our lord said to be necesa
ry, and wch contains all things in it
self, according to that saying, Unum
sit mihi totum, id est Omnia in
Omnibus, hoc unum quaero, hoc

             D. Cath: G: Pr:             385

unum desidero, propter unum
omnia, hoc si habuero contentus
ero, et nisi potitus fuero. semper
fluctus, quia multa me implere
non posunt, Quid hoc unum nescio
dicere, desiderare. me sentio, quo
nihill melius, nec majus est, sed nec
cogitare, potest, non enim hoc un
um inter omnia, sed unum super
omnia est. Deus meus est, cui ad-
haerere, et inhaerere bonum mihi
est. This way of tending and aspiring
towards god, by love and affection doth
in no sort, hinder a soull, from
the due performance of her other
duties and Obligations, and externall

386       D. Cath: Gas: Pr:

Obediences, much less dos it cause
her to neglect, misprise, or disesteem
of her superiours, their ordinations
and exactions, (as has bine feared)
for it doth cause her to observe and
perform them with more purity of
intention and more readily and more
chearfully, regarding God in the doing
of them, rather then the works that
she doth. and a soull that is caryed
in this affectuous inclination towards
god carefully observing the divine
call and motions, and abstracting
herself from impertinencies and all
things wch doe not belong to her to
doe or undergoo. she will be able to
make use of all things, in there times
[Stanbrook: their due time]

          D. Cath: Gas: pray:       387

times, to her advancement in spir
it. for nothing is required of us in
our state of life, but if we know how
to make right use of it, it will further
us in our way, and especially the divine
office, and service of the Quire, as be-
ing an exercise more imediatly belon
ging to the praise and worship of god.
so doe I most comonly find it a great
help and incitement therto, except
when the body is too much wearied or
otherwise indisposed and þs exercise
of love seems to be the best means to
purchase all vertues; for the soull þt
doth faithfully persue it with perse
verance, and faithfully coresponds
in the divine Grace, dos in some sort

388          D. Cath: Gas: pr:

(according to her progress in this di
vine love) exercise all vertues in
these times, for it is the way of Hum-
ility, of abnegation, of sincere obedi
-ence, of perfect submision, & subjec
-tion to god, and to every creature
for his love, and according to his
good will and pleasure, it causeth
and encreaseth in the soull, a holly
and humble confidence in god, which
does enoble her to pass thro all occuring
difficulties wth chearfulness and ala
crity, not that she shall not meett wth
difficulties (for the way of love is
the way of the cross and full of bitter
mortifications) but because she de
sires so much to please her beloved
that all things wtsoever tho never

           D. Cath: Gas: Pr:           389

so greivous to nature, become easy
and tolerable to her, wch may draw
more near unto him, and wtsoever
she finds to be a lett or hinderance
in her way of tendance towards him,
as fears, scruples, etc: she doth
pass them over and transcend them by
love, seeking and endeavouring always
to unite herself to god, according to
her maner, and to adher perseverantly
unto him, and although it may per
haps be esteemed a great presumption
for a soull þt has made but litle prog
ress in a spirituall course, & is full
of deffects, and imperfections, to pret
end so high an exercise, as is that of
love and aspiring towards god; yet

390          D. Cath: Gas: Pr:

to me it seems to be the best way
to get true humility, nay I canot see
how tis posible for a soull by anny
other means to avoid that most detes
table sin of pride, wch so secretly -
creeps in, & intrudes itself into all
our best actions, & Holiest exercises.
but only by adhesion to god, which
excludes all pride, and all maner of
temptaion of what kind soever,
for the soull þt seeks and pretends
nothing but god, and tends towards
him in the best maner she can by sim
plicity, adhering to noe Image or
created thing, but only to god him
self there is no place for pride, &
therfore noe exercise or maner of

            D: Cath Gas: Pr:              391

prayer so secure for the soull, and þe
less subject to the Ilusions & deceits of
the †Divell, then this exercise of the will
which is both plain & easie for those soulls
that have an aptness and call unto it, is
faithfully prosecuting, wth the grace of
god concuring, it leads the soull through
all things wtsoever, it is the way of humi
lity, and confidence. for the soull having
continuall recourse to god by prayer is
therby enlightned to see her own nothing
and poverty, and how that she is not able
to effect any thing that is good, without
the divine assistance, butt that she must
wholly, & totally depend of God, and this
dependance, wch the soull sees herself con-
tinually to have of god; methinks it is
able to humble her even to dust, besides

392          D. Cath: Gas: Pr:

the sins and imperfections to which
she is subject and often falls into. and
indeed god has many secret ways to
humble a soull, and out of his care doth
soe provide that matter of humiliation
shall never be wanting to her, if she will
but accordingly endeavour to make use
therof. and the wonderfull vouchsafe
ment of God All: to is such to a soull þt
seeks and aymes at nothing else but to
be faithfull to him, þt it causes & increa
-ses a great confidence in his goodness, and
his continuall care and providence to
wards her; so that for her part she
seems to have nothing else in the world
to doe, but only to endeavour to comply
with his will, and pleasure. tending
and aspiring towards him by prayer

            D. Cath: Gasc: Pr:              393

as he shall enable her for it by his grace,
without taking care or solicitude for
any thing that may concern her keep lea
ving herself and all things wholly to his
sweet disposition, so that her only care
is to please him, and he will sufficiently
provide for her, and for all things that may
concern her good, to wm she hath totally
left herself and all other things, after this
maner to the Divine providence; she
doth not neglect that to wch she is obli-
-ged according to her dutty and charge
for god himself takes care of all, & guides
all, and nothing is lost, but much beter
performed by leaving all to him, as thau
lerus saith In deo nihill negligetur.
and the soull proceeding in this maner
with as much simplicity as she can, seeking

394    D. Cath: Gas: Pr:

after nothing but God, her confidence
dailly increases as holly scripture says,
Qui ambulat simpliciter, ambulat
confidenter. and she walks one secure
-ly & quietly under the divine protection,
all things cooperating to her good, for
wtsoever doth hapen to her by gods per
-mision; dos serve to breed†still in her
true and perfect resignation & conf
ormity to the Divine will, wherby she
comes to have & enjoy betwixt God and
her soull, true internall, and solid peace,
even amidst all crosses and opositions, &
variations, that we are subject unto, in
this changeable and miserable life of ours,
which peace, & security noe creature
can give unto a soull but only god himself
and therefore happy are those soulls þt

† & Cause vertically in margin; Stanbrook: more & more]

           D. Cath: Gas: Pr:              395

that faithfully & perseverently adher
to him, with an internall regard of his
will in all things, and this plain & simple
exercise of the will, taught us by father
Anonimus tends to noe other thing, (soe, far
|as I understand it) þn þs to bring the soull
to a total subjection to god, and to others
for god.
Indeed I am not able to express wt I doe
in part conceive of the excelency & worth-
iness, of this most happy exercise, of tend-
ing aspiring towards god by love, how
be it. I have here endeavoured as well
as I could briefly and sincerely to let
my superiours know by this, how I und-
erstand and desire to practis the same.
humbly submiting myself, & all my ways
and practises, in this or wt else soever to

396       D. Cath: Gas: Prayer

be corected by them, purposing & promi
-sing by Gods Grace always to stand to
their judgment and determination, in
all things. and if your Paternities
do think it good & please to aprove it,
I do then most humbly beseech your leave
and blesing, with the assistance of yr
holly prayers, that I may prosecute it
with new fervour & diligence, for noth-
-ing does so much trouble me as my slack
-ness & negligence in it hitherto.
                ~  ~  ~

Invidia omnis
et carnalis
Deo Odibilis
et Anima pestis
satis subtilis
cur non recedis

            Colections              397

A meo Corde
te detestante
et reluctante
contra motus tuos
valde pestiferos
et desiderante
in vera charitate
omnes Diligere. ~
   to St Arsenius my Dear Patron

God, sent his Angell down, to let þee know
his blesed will wch so by thee, was sought
praying to him to teach þee how to goe,
that way by wch to him thou mightst be brought.
The Angell bid thee fly & silent be,
and suffer nothing to disquiet thee.
Pray that I may fly to God, & hold my peace
and being from all noyse & tumults free

                 Colections labour to make all Cogitations cease.
that I may here alone. in quiet be
and living thus on earth abstractedly
my mind may ever placed be one high.
and let my eyes to God be ever turn'd
regarding nothing, that is here below
aspiring daily to be wholly burn'd
with this inflamed love and nothing know
but him allone; whoom I desire to be
my portion, part & all in all to me ~
often hath it repented me to have spo-
-ken, never to have bine silent. said
St Arsenius
                 ~  Finis
Laus Deo & Maria. Jully 23 1724

Dom Augustine Baker (†1638), Dom Serenus Cressy, OSB (†1674)

'The Parable of the Pilgrim' in Holy Wisdom, Chapter 6, edited by Dom Serenus Cressy from Don Augustine Baker's writings, acknowledges its souce in Walter Hilton, Scala Perfectionis.

Dom Augustine Baker
(†1638), Dom Serenus Cressy, OSB (†1674)

'The Parable of the Pilgrim' in Holy Wisdom, Chapter 6, edited by Dom Serenus Cressy from Don Augustine Baker's writings, acknowledges its souce in Walter Hilton's Scala Perfectionis.

Now for a further confirmation and more effectual recommendation of what hath hitherto been delivered touching the nature of a contemplative life in general, the superminent nobleness of its end, the great difficulties to be expected in it, and the absolute necessity of a firm courage to persevere and continually to make progress in it, whatsoever it costs us (without which resolution it is in vain to set one step forward in these ways), I will here annex a passage extracted out of that excellent treatise called Scala Perfectionis, written by that eminent contemplative, Dr Walter Hilton, a Carthusian Monk, in which, under the parable of a devout pilgrim desirous to travel to Jerusalem (which he interprets as the vision of peace or contemplation), he delivers instructions very proper and efficacious touching the behaviour requisite in a devout soul for such a journey; the true sense of which advice I will take liberty so to deliver briefly as, notwithstanding, not to omit any important matter there more largely, and according to the old fashion, expressed.

'There was a man', saith he, 'that had a great desire to go to Jerusalem; and because he knew not the right way, he addressed himself for advice to one that he hoped was not unskilful in it, and asked him whether there was any way passable thither. The other answered, that the way there was both long and full of very great difficulties; yea, that there were many ways that seemed and promised to lead tither, but the dangers of them were too great. Nevertheless, one way he knew which, if he would diligently pursue according to the directions and marks he would give him - though, said he, I cannot promise thee a security from many frights, beatings, and other ill-usage and temptations of all kinds; but if thou canst have courage and patience enough to suffer them without quarrelling, or resisting, or troubling thyself, and so pass on, having this only in thy mind, and sometimes on thy tongue, I have nought, I am nought, I desire nought but to be at Jerusalem - my life for thine, thou wilt escape safe with thy life and in a competent time arrive thither.

The pilgrim, overjoyed with that news, answered: 'So I may have my life safe, at last come to the place that I above all only desire , I care not what miseries I suffer in the way'. Therefore let me know only what course I am to take, and, God willing, I will not fail to observe carefully your directions. The guide replied: Since thou hast so good a will, though I myself never was so happy as to be in Jerusalem, notwithstanding, be confident that by the instructions that I shall give thee, if thou wilt follow them, thou shalt come safe to thy journey's end.

'Now the advice that I am going to give thee in brief is this: Before thou set the first step into the highway that leads thither, thou must be firmly grounded in the true Catholic faith; moreover, whatsoever sins thou findest in thy conscience, thou must try to purge them away by strong penance and absolution, according to the laws of the Church. This being done, begin thy journey in God's name, but be sure to go furnished with two necessary instruments, humility and charity, both of which are contained in the forementioned speech, which must always be ready in thy mind: I am nought, I have nought, I desire but only one thing, and that is our Lord Jesus, and to be with him in peace at Jerusalem. The meaning and virtue of these words therefore thou must have continually, at least in thy thoughts, either expressly or virtually; humility says, I am nought, I have nought; love says, I desire nought but Jesus. These two companions thou must never part from; neither will they willingly be separated from one another, for they accord very lovingly together. And the deeper thou groundest thyself in humility, the higher thou raisest thyself in charity; for the more thou seest and feelest thyself to be nothing, with the more fervent love wilt thou raisest desire Jesus, that by Him, who is all, thou mayst become something.

Now this same humility is to be exercised, not so much in considering thine own self, thy sinfulness and misery (though to do thus at the first be very good and profitable), but rather in a quiet loving sight of the infinite endless being and goodness of Jesus; the which behldinging of Jesus must be either through grace in a savourous felling knowledge of hi, or at least in a full and firm faith in Him. And such a beholding, when thou shalt attain to it, will work in thy mind a far more pure, spiritual, solid and perfect humility, than the former way of behlding thyself, the which produces a humility more gross, boisterous and unquiet. By that thou wilt see and feel thyself, not only to be the most wretched filthy creature in the world, but also in the very substance of thy soul (setting aside the foulness of sin) to be a mere nothing, for truly, in and of thyself and in regard to Jesus (who really and in truth is all), thou art a mere nothing; and till thou hast the love of Jesus, yea, and feelest that thou hast His love, although thou hast done to thy seeming never so many good deeds both outward and inward, yet in truth thou hast nothing at all, for nothing will abide in thy soul and fill it but the love of Jesus. Therefore, cast all other things behind thee, and forget them, that thou mayest have that which is best of all; and thus doing, thou wilt beome a true pilgrim that leaves behind him houses, and wife, and children, and friends, and goods, and makes himself poor and bare of all things, that he may go on his journey lightly and merrily without hindrance.

'Well, now thou art in thy way travelling towards Jerusalem; the which travelling consists in working inwardly, and (when need is) outwardly too, such works as are suitable to thy condition and state, and such as will help and increase in thee this gracious desire that thou hast to love Jesus only. Let thy works be what they will, thinking, or reading, or preaching or labouring, etc.; if thou findest that they draw thy mind from worldly vanity, and confirm thy heart and will more to the love of Jesus, it is good and profitable for thee to use them. And if thou findest that through custom such works do in time lose their savour and virtue to increase this love, and it seems to thee that thou feelest more grace and spiritual profit in some other, take these other and leave those, for though the inclination and desire of thy heart to Jesus must  ever be unchangeable, nevertheless thy spiritual works thouu shalt use in thy manner of praying, reading, etc., to the end to feed and strengthen this desire, may well be changed, according as thou feelest thyself by grace disposed in the applying of thy heart. Bind not thyself, therefore, unchangeably to voluntary customs, for that will hinder the freedom of thy heart to love Jesus, if grace would visit thee specially.

'Before thou has made many steps in the way, thou must expect a world of enemies of several kinds, that will beset thee roun about, and all of them will endeavour busily to hinder thee from going forward; yea, and if they can by any means, they will, either by persuasions, flatteries, or violence, force thee to return home again to those vanities that thou hast forsaken. For there is nothing grieves them so much as to see a resolute desire in thy heart to love Jesus, and to travail to find Him. Therefore they will all conspire to put out of thy heart that good desire and love in which all virtues are comprised.

'Thy first enemies that will assult thee will be fleshly desires and vain fears of thy corrupt heart; and with these there will join unclean spirits, that with sights and temptations will seek to allure thy heart to them, and to withdraw it from Jesus. But whatsoever they say, believe them not; but betake thyself to thy old only secure remedy, answering ever thus, I am nought, I have nought, and I desire nought, but only the love of Jesus, and so hold forth on thy way desiring Jesus only.

'If they endeavour to put dreads and scruples into thy mind, and would make thee belief that thou hast not done penance enough, as thou oughtest for thy sins, but that some old sins remain in thy heart not yet confessed, or not sufficiently confessed and absolved, and that therefore thou must needs return home and do penance better before thou have the boldness to go to Jesus, do not beleive a word of all that they say, for thou art sufficiently acquitted of thy sins, and there is no need at all that thou shouldst stay to ransack thy conscience, for this will now but do thee harm, and either put thee quite out of thy way or at least unprofitably delay thy travailing in it.

'If they shall tell thee that thou art not worthy to have the love of Jesus, or to see Jesus, and therefore that thou oughtest not to be so presumptious to desire and seek after it, believe them not, but go on and say: It is not because I am worthy, but because I am unworthy, that I therefore desire to have the love of Jesus, for if once I had it, it would make me worthy. I will therefore never cease desiring it till I have obtained it. For, for it only was I created, therefore, say and do what you will, I will desire it continually, I will never cease to pray for it, and so doing I hope to obtain it.

'If thou meetest with any that seem friends unto thee, and that in kindness would stop thy progress by entertaining thee, and seeking to draw thee to sensual mirth by vain discourses and carnal solaces, whereby thou wilt be in danger to forget thy pilgrimage, give a deaf ear to them, answer them not; think only on this, That thou wouldest fain be at Jerusalem. And if they proffer thee gifts and preferments, heed them not, but think ever on Jerusalem.

'And if men despise thee, or lay any false calumnies to thy charge, giving thee ill names; if they go about to defraud thee or rob thee; yea, if they beat thee and use thee despitefully and cruelly, for thy life content not with them, strive not against them, nor be angry with them, but content thyself with the harm received, and go on quietly as if nought were done, that thou take no further harm; think only on this, that to be at Jerusalem deserves to be purchased with all this ill-usage or more, and that there thou shalt be sufficiently repaired for all thy losses, and recompensed for all hard usages by the way.

'If thine enemies see that thou growest courageous and bold, and that thou will neither be seduced by flatteries nor disheartened with the pains and troubles of thy journey, but rather well cotnented with them, then they will begin to be afraid of thee; yet for all that, they will never cease pursuing thee - they will follow thee all along the way, watching all advantages against thee, and ever and anon they will set upon thee, seeking either with flatteries or frights to stop thee, and drive thee back if they can. But fear them not; hold on thy way, and have nothing in thy mind but Jerusalem and Jesus, whom thou wilt find there.

'If thy desire of Jesus still continues and grows more strong, so that it makes thee to go on thy ways courageously, they will then tell thee that it may very well happen that thou wilt fall into coprporal sickness, and perhaps such a sickness as will bring strange fancies into thy mind, and melancholic apprehensions; or perhaps thou wilt fall into great want, and no man will offer to help thee, by occasion of which misfortunes thou wilt be grievously tempted by thy ghostly enemies, the which will then insult over thee, and tell thee that thy folly and proud presumption have brought thee to this miserable pass, that thou canst neither help thyself, nor will any man help thee, but rather hinder those that would. And all this they will do to the end to increase thy melancholic and unquiet apprehensions, or to provoke thee to anger or malice against thy Christian brethren, or to murmur against Jesus, who, perhaps for thy trial, seems to hide His face from thee. But still neglect all these suggestions as though thou heardest them not. Be angry with nobody but thyself. And as for all thy diseases, poverty, and whatsoever other sufferings (for who can reckon all that may befall thee?), take Jesus in thy mind, think on this lesson that thou art taught, and say, I am nought, I have nought, I care for nought in this world, and I desire nought but the love of Jesus, that I may see him in peace in Jerusalem.

'But if it shall happen sometimes, as likely it will, that through some of these temptations and thy own frailty, thou stumble and perhaps fall down, and get some harm thereby, or that thou for some time be turned a little out of the right way, as soon as possibly may be come again to thyself, get up again and return into the right way, using such remedies for thy hurt as as the Church ordains; and do not trouble thyself over much or over long with thinking unquietly on thy past misfortune and pain - abide not in such thoughts, for that will do thee more harm, and give advantage to thine enemies. Therefore, make haste to go on in thy travail and working again, as if nothing had happened. Keep but Jesus in thy mind, and a desire to gain his love, and nothing shall be able to hurt thee.

'At last, when thine enemies perceive that thy will to Jesus is so strong that thou wilt not spare neither for poverty nor mischief, for sickness nor fancies, or doubts nor fears, or life nor death, no, nor for sins neither, but ever forth thou wilt go on with that one thing of seeking the love of Jesus, and with nothing else; and that thou despisest and scarce markest anything that they say to the contrary, but holdest on in thy praying and other spiritual works (yet always with discretion and submission), then they grow even enraged, and will spare no manner of most cruel usage. They will come closer to thee than ever before, and betake themselves to their last and most dangerous assult, and that is, to bring into the sight of thy mind all thy good deeds and virtues, showing thee that all men praise thee, and love thee, and bear thee great veneration for thy sanctity, etc. And all this they do to the end to raise vain joy and pride in thy heart. But if thou tenderest thy life, thou wilt hold all this flattery and falsehood to be a deadly poison to thy soul, mingled with honey; therefore, away with it; caste it from thee, saying, thou wilt have none of it, but thou wouldest be at Jerusalem,

'And to the end, to put thyself out of the danger and reach of all such temptations, suffer not thy thoughts willingly to run about the world, but draw them all inwards, fixing them upon one only thing, which is Jesus; set thyself to think only on Him, to know Him, to love Him; and after thou hast for a good time brought thyself to do thus, then whatsoever thou seest or feelest inwardly that is not He, will be unwelcome and painful to thee, because it will stand in thy way to the seeing and seeking of Him whom thou only desirest.

'But yet, if there be any work or outward business which thou art obliged to do, or that charity or present necessity requires of thee, either concerning thyself or thy Christian brother, fail not to do it: despatch it as well and as soon as well thou canst, and let it not tarry long in thy thoughts, for it will but hinder thee in thy principal business. But if it be any other matter of no necessity, or that concerns thee not in particular, trouble not thyself nor distract thy thoughts about it, but rid it quickly out of thy heart, saying still thus, I am nought, I can do nought, I have nought, and nought do I desire to have, but only Jesus and his love.

'Thou wilt be forced, as all other pilgrims are, to take ofttimes, by the way, refreshments, meats and drink and sleep, yea, and sometimes innocent recreations; in all which things use discretion, and take heed of a foolish scrupulosity about them. Fear not that they will be much a hindrance to thee, for though they seem to stay thee for a while, they will further thee and give thee strength to walk on more courageously for a good long time after.

'To conclude, remember that thy principal aims, and indeed only business, is to knit thy thoughts to the desire of Jesus - to strengthen this desire daily by prayer and other spiritual workings, to the end it may never go out of thy heart. And whatsoever thou findest proper to increase that desire, be it praying or reading, speaking or being silent, travailing or reposing, make use of it for the time, as long as thy soul finds savour in it, and as long as it increases this desire of having or enjoying nothing but the love of Jesus, and the blessed sight of Jesus in true peace in Jerusale; and be assured that this good desire thus cherished and continually increased will bring thee safe unto the end of thy pilgrimage'.

This is the substance of the parable of the Spiritual Pilgrim travailing in the ways of contemplation; the which I have more largely set down because, but the contexture of it, not only we see confirmed what is already written before, but also we have a draught and scheme represented, according to which all the following instructions will be conformably answerable.

A Benedictine Nun in Exile

A hundred years later than Dom Augustine Baker's spiritual directorship of the Cambrai nuns a nun in their Paris daughter house wrote the following into her eighteenth-century manuscript book, now in the Bibliothèque Mazarine, where its cataloguer sneers at it for being 'monkish superstion':

{ My God, above all blesings
grant me a true peace in you
and above all curses remove
far from me a false peace in

Title page

{ It is internity or recolectednes.

P. 14

Blessed Angela of Foligno

{ On a certain time while I pray'd in my Cell, these words were sayd
unto me interiorly by God.

Pp. 21-22

Fenelon, Bishop of Cambrai

{ Reflect that you carry the gift of God in an earthern vessel.


{ O my beginning, when shall I return to thee and putting off whatsoever
I have been formerly, be transformed into thee.

P. 296

{ Take my self and all and give me that one in which is all things.

P. 296

{ O let my Creator come into his tabernacle and temple, where he may
remain Lord and king.

P. 296

{ My God I consecrate myself to you alone, for the whole remnant of my life,
to persue the exercises of an internal life: leaving the fruit and success of
my endeavours to your holy will.

P. 303

{ She speaks of 'desolations, obscurity of mind, & deadness of affections'.

P. 304

{ I doe renounce solicitude to please others; or to gain the affections of any to myself.

P. 304

{ Oh that I had kept inviolately the faith I promised you on my profession day when
in the presence of angells and men, of the whole triumphant or militant church,
in the sight of celestial, or terestials I was solemnly espoused to you my God.

P. 333

{ O eternall God, who hast loved me from all eternity, I am resolved to love you
the short time which remains of my life, to the end I may love you for all eternity.

P. 363

{ Jesus, my God, when shall I become a holocaust of love to you, who made your
soul an offering for sin, for my salvation.

P. 366

{ Foolish is that Religious who having broken the chains of gold and silver
which make so many captives in the world, lets herself be bound in Religion
with threads of flax, I mean with toys, or things of nothing.

P. 371

'Coll: Lady Cath[erine] G[ascoigne's] Prayer:

{ To St Arsenius , my dear Patron:

{ The Angel bid the flye, silent be
and suffer nothing to disquiet thee.
Often hath I repented to have spoken,
never to have been silent, said
St Arsenius

P. 382 


My own Anglican Community based their charisma on that of the English Benedictines in exile and on the Carmelites Saints Teresa of Avila and Juan de la Cruz. They built up a splendid contemplative library, filled with the writings and editions of Evelyn Underhill and Lucy Menzies. I, as their librarian, dreamed of continuing our property as a retreat house teaching this tradition. The Quaker Meeting in Hastings asked that I give a series of conferences at Holmhurst St Mary on the Friends of God. Jewish and Catholic theologians joined us, and we adopted for ourselves the title 'Godfriends', realizing that with this there were no barriers between us, not of gender, not of class. It was here that I could read all of Teilhard de Chardin's books, for he had been our neighbour, and those of Thomas Merton and T.S. Eliot, speaking of our Julian. I felt strongly that this contemplative aspect down the centuries, this dialogic conversation, needed to be included in modern theological studies, alongside skills-training in church restoration, stonemasonry and carpentry, also church embroidery, with apprentices amongst young people transferring these skills to their homes for their families, on the order of the New Testament's carpenter (Jesus), fishermen (Disciples), tent-maker (Paul) and dress-maker (Dorcas). But our Bishop and his Trust ended us, bulldozing the convent and chapel, putting the books down at sea level, sneering at these for being 'old-fashioned', abolishing from the Trust's statement that it was to be ecumenical, and sending us away penniless.

I fled to Italy with my own books pulled from the convent's shelves, my computer and the begged-for convent's Victorian book-binding tools. I was editing the manuscripts of Julian of Norwich in one unheated room for four years. It was here I found Suor Maria Chiara who introduced me to the contempaltive theologian Don Divo Barsotti (2007). At the same time a Dante student had alerted Professor Claudio Leonardi to the edition on Julian and it was accepted for publication by SISMEL (Società per lo Studio del Medio Evo Latino), this because Don Divo had already taught Professore Leonardi about Julian of Norwich. I would find myself in my stumbling Italian conversing with Don Divo about 'Don Bakker' (our Father Augustine Baker), whom he so much admired. Padre Barsotti not only studied English contemplative texts, but also those of the Rhineland mystics, the 'Friends of God'. All this in parallel with Russian spirituality. He named his hermitage above Settignano nestled in its olive grove 'San Sergio' because of a dream vision he had had. Nothing survives of St Sergius' writings, but this is the Canticle Don Divo transcribed from the dream vision, and it owes much to the writings of Julian of Norwich, as well, for St Sergius, his disciple Andrei Rublev and Julian of Norwich are contemporaries, are Trinitarians.

utta l'immensità
l'unità che tutto trascende
lo spirito santo è:
il dono che dall'abisso s'effonde
e penetra tutto
e di sè indivisibile e uno
tutte le cose riempie
e tutte in una luce trasforma.

essun uomo, nessuna creatura,
nulla nel cielo e sopra la terra
ti adora più:
nessuno ti conosca o ti ammiri,
nessuno ti serva, ti ami,
illuminato dallo spirito,
battezzato nel fuoco,
chiunque tu sia:
laico, vergine, sacerdote,
tu sei trono di Dio,
sei la dimora, sei lo strumento,
sei la luce della divinita' . . . .

+++ Dal Cantico di San Sergio di Radonez, Patrono della Russia, 1314-1392.

All the immensity, the unity which transcends all, is the Holy Spirit. The gift which comes from the abyss and penetrates all and of itself is one and indivisible, fills all things, and transforms all into one light.
No one, no creature, nothing of the sky or above the earth could adore you more, no one could know or admire you more, no one could serve you or love you more, illuminated by the Spirit, baptised in flame, whoever you are.
Lay person, nun or priest, you are the throne of God, you are his dwelling, you are the instrument, you are the light of God . . . .

It has been translated also into Russian:

Песнь преподобного Сергия Радонежского

Бог-Отец; Бог-Сын; Бог-Дух Святой
Безмерен Отец; безмерен Сын;
Един Отец; Един Сын; Един Дух Святой,
Един Дух Святой,
Един Дух Святой.
В Троице нераздельной
каждый божественный Лик -
- Сила, Премудрость, Любовь.
Каждая Ипостась -
Божество,  единое,  необъятное.
Вся Бесконечность, Единство, что все превосходит -
это есть Дух Святой;
Дар, приходящий из Бездны
и проникающий всё,
Он, нераздельный, единый,  Собою всё наполняет,
и всё претворяет в свет.
Пусть отныне никто из людей, никакое созданье,
на небе ли, на земле,  пред тобою не преклонится:
никто пусть не знает тебя,  тобою не восхитится; да не послужит тебе и не полюбит тебя никто*.

Просвещенный Духом,
огнем крещенный,
- девственник, священник, монах -
престол ты Божий:

ты жилище,  орудие,
ты свет Божества.
Ты Бог:
Ты Бог - Бог - Бог.
Бог в Отце, Бог в Сыне, Бог в Святом Духе:
Ты Бог:
Бог - Бог - Бог...

Fathers Robert Llewellyn and John Clark, both Anglican priests, have understood and valued the concepts of Mary's Dowry and the English Mission, Father Robert having been Guardian of the Julian Shrine in Norwich and writing such contemplative theology as With Pity, Not with Blame, explaining for modern readers both Julian and the Cloud Author, while Rev Dr John Clark, who lives in the Dream of the Rood's country, has edited Walter Hilton and Father Augustine Baker. I have been privileged with the friendship of both of them, particularly, in the latter case, through the kindness of Dr James Hogg, former Carthusian, and Editor of the Analecta Carthusiana which he publishes in Salzburg. Meanwhile, I have shared my researches with Syon Abbey, with St Mary's Abbey, Colwich, and with Stanbrook Abbey, these Abbeys that returned to England from their long exile, bringing with them, too, the manuscripts they were able to save from the French Revolution and Napoleon's depradations. Hermits must be self-supporting. I now, like Julian, and like the Desert Fathers and Mothers before her, live in a graveyard, in Florence's Swiss-owned so-called 'English' Cemetery, caring for it in exchange for having space for an ecumenical library concentrating on the contemplatives down the ages, Augustinians, Benedictines, Brigittines, Carmelites, Carthusians, Cistercians, Franciscans and Clarissans, Hermits, Anchoresses, Beguines, and Anglicans and Quakers and others as well, their treble and bass voices enshrined in print and now published as well electronically on the World Wide Web, giving Christ's 'Good News'.


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