THE CONTINENTAL MEDIEVAL
Introduction || St. Lioba || Hildegard of Bingen || Mechtild of Magdebourg
The Helfta Cistercian Nuns || Marguerite Porete || Meister Eckhart
|| Henry Suso || Jan
Ruusbroec || Bibliography
Hans Memling, St John
St John's Hospital, Bruges.
Reproduced by permission, Memlingmuseum, Stedelijke Musea, Brugge, Belgium
Her life tells, among others, this story: 'She had a dream in which one night she saw a purple thread issuing from her mouth. It seemed to her that when she took hold of it with her hand and tried to draw it out there was no end to it. . . When her hand was full of thread and it still issued from her mouth she rolled it round and round and made a ball of it .' An old and prophetic nun was asked about the meaning of the dream and explained that it referred to Lioba's wise counsels spoken from her heart. 'Furthermore, the ball which she made by rolling it round and round signifies the mystery of the divine teaching, which is set in motion by the words and deeds of those who give instruction and which turns earthwards through active works and heavenwards through contemplation, at one time swinging downwards through compassion for one's neighbour, again swinging upwards through the love of God.'
The image of the ball of
thread in Lioba's hand is similar to Julian's hazel
nut in the palm of her hand.
From the Lucca Manuscript, lectured on in Florence by Sr Angela Carlevaris, 1999
of Bingen, and other women like
as Hrotswitha of Gandesheim (A.D. 932-1000) and Herrad of
in this learned Benedictine tradition established in
from England, which gave women the status of Christian
Hildegard composed music and wrote treatises on medicine, on
Rule, a play, many letters, and visionary mystical works which
illuminated in a manner that is deeply compelling. But, unlike
was not a pleasing person. Until the age of forty she kept to
Richardis, her friend and fellow nun, then persuaded her to
career as writer of letters to the leaders of Church and State
and to compose her mystical treatises. When Richardis left her
an abbess at another monastery Hildegard was furious,
Richardis, obediently, died. Hildegard ruled her monastery by
tyrannising over her nuns with her migraines - about which she
her medical works and whose effect she illuminates in her
She is an example of a genius who is less than charitable. One
her work, but not her desire for control. She has significant
messages for us today.
Ah! Lord God! Who has written this book? I in my weakness have written it, because I dared not hide the gift that is in it. Ah! Lord! What shall this book be called to Thy Glory? It shall be called The Flowing Light of My Godhead into all hearts which dwell therein without falseness.
And so the soul puts on a shift of humility, so humble that nothing could be more humble. And over it a white robe of chastity, so pure that she cannot endure words or desires which might stain it. Next she wraps herself in a mantle of Holy Desire which she has woven out of all the virtues.
Thus she goes into the wood, that is the company of holy people. But still the youth does not come. He sends her messengers, for she would dance. He sends her the faith of Abraham, the longings of the Prophets, the chaste modesty of our Lord Jesus Christ and the whole company of His elect. Thus there is prepared a noble Dance of Praise.'
When we are sick we wear our wedding garments, but when we are well we wear our working clothes.
In a vision she sees a
going to the wedding feast, and Our Lady garbs the maiden in
which is written one of Mechtild von Magdebourg's poems.
P. Odo Lang OSB, Librarian, Einsiedeln Abbey, which owns Mechtild Manuscript, Cod. 277(1014)
Frau Liliane Géraud, Zürich
In this being of God where God is above all being and all distinction, I was myself, I desired myself, I knew myself, wanting to create the man that I am. And for this reason I am my own cause according to my being which is eternal, but not according to my being which is temporal.
It must be observed that God created heaven and earth and all they contain at the same time . . . but all things did not appear at the same time.
All that is not within Being, but beside or outside Being, is not.
Evil is opposed to being, therefore the devil does not exist and the 'sinner, the son of the devil, is nothing'. Every creature is something finite, limited, distinct and particular, and this is no longer love. But God is the love that embraces all things.
To attain God one must abandon oneself. Never has a man abandoned himself so much in this life that he did not find room to abandon himself still more.
I take a basin with water
a mirror into it and stand it under the sun. Thus it is also
the soul which reflects God yet which does not take from
Under the Godfriends page on your site and at the bottom of the essay on Eckhart you have the words:
"Meister Eckhart's teachings were examined for heresy, because of their 'subtlety'. Like John Wyclif he was allowed to die rather than be executed."
Ursula Fleming, the founder of the Eckhart Society, persuaded a group of prominent people within the Dominican Order and outside it to request the General Chapter of the Dominican order which met in Walberburg 'to examine the possibility of issuing an official declaration of Orthodoxy of Meister Eckhart and rescinding the condemnation of some of his teaching contained in the Papal Bull "In agro dominico 27 March 1329."'
In 1983 The Master of the Order instituted the Eckhart Commission.
In 1986 the commission reported back saying that a reconsideration of the teaching of Meister Eckhart was justified. It also said that Eckhart does not need rehabilitation in the canonical sense of the word, since his person, his doctrine, his apostolate or his spirituality were not really condemned.
Although no reconsideration of Eckhart's teaching has been formally undertaken by the Holy See, the present Pope, in 1987 at an important audience, strongly recommended Eckhart's teaching.
Another story tells of how the Friends of God visited Pope Gregory XI in 1377 to plead for peace in Christendom, at the same time that St Birgitta made that plea and in whose writings the term 'Friends of God' is very frequently used. The 'Friends of God' gained entry through offering a most beautiful Swiss clock to the Pope. (Was it the prototype for Henry Suso 's 'Computer of Wisdom'?) Both the Delegation of the Friends of God and St Birgitta accurately prophesied the Pope's death of 1378. These Friends of God also attempted, but failed, to establish a monastery for themselves, called Gruenenworth.
This is what St Augustine says 'Pour out so that you may be filled; go out so that you may enter'.
Therefore you should be silent; then the Word of this birth can speak in you and be heard in you; but, indeed, if you want to speak, he must be silent. We cannot serve the Word better than by being silent and listening.
Jan van Ruusbroec writing his text, inspired by the Holy Spirit, beneath the trees of Groenendael, his scribe transcribing these same words to parchment folios.
Meister Eckhart was German and Henry Suso was Swiss, Jan
van Ruusbroec was Flemish in the region where the
began, and where Marguerite
flourished. Ruusbroec countered heresy in his writings, set up
at Groenendael, near Brussels, where he would write his
onto tablets of wax known as diptyches
under the trees and which became
Stone (the work that is to be found in the same
manuscript as is
of Norwich's Showing of Love in the British Library
in another booklet), and A Mirror of Eternal Blessedness
works. Later his writings and those of Marguerite
Porete and Birgitta of Sweden
attacked by Jean Gerson, Chancellor of the University of
his lifetime Ruusbroec was not subjected to the Inquisition as
other Friends of God. Consequently his writings display a
Nevertheless, the Friends of God and Ruusbroec were in
their writings with each other, and it would be Ruusbroec who
Gerharte Groote, and Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ
beyond them the mystic Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, and the
Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus. Their writings would
be quoted by English
in exile in France in their own contemplative writings and
texts also reached Spain, influencing there St Teresa
of Avila and St John of the
The Revelations of Mechthild of Magdebourg or The Flowing Light of the Godhead Translated from the Manuscript in the Library of the Monastery of Einsiedeln. Trans. Lucy Menzies. London: Longmans, Green, 1953.
Medieval Women's Visionary Literature. Ed. Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Jan van Ruusbroec. Vanden Blinckenden Steen. Ed. Lod Moereels, L. Reypens. Tielt en Bussum: Lannoo.
Life and Sermons of Dr John Tauler. Trans. Susanna Winkworth. London: Smith, Elder, 1857.
Paulist Press, volumes on Margaret Ebner, Mechthild von
Eckhart, Marguerite Porete, John van Ruusbroec, Henry Suso, John
OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS ©1997-2015
BOLTON HOLLOWAY ||
OF NORWICH || SHOWING
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SELF || ABOUT HER TEXTS
JULIAN || HER
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JULIAN || JULIAN IN OUR TIME
BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN ||
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