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JAN VAN RUUSBROEC

THE SPARKLING STONE

FROM THE AMHERST MANUSCRIPT


Hans Memling, 'St John Writing Revelation', 1479, St John's Hospital, Bruges. Reproduced by permission of Memlingmuseum, Stadelijke Musea Brugge, Belgium

Compare with Birgitta of Sweden, Revelations, 1400, Pierpont Morgan Library, both centred on the Eucharist:


 

mmediately after Julian of Norwich's Showings in the British Library Amherst Manuscript, 'Explicit.Juliane de Norwych ', follows a treatise by Jan van Ruusbroec, generally called De Calculo or Sparkling Stone, but in this manuscript titled 'Treatise of Perfection of the Sons of God'. The text that follows replicates the manuscript's folios, layout, capitals (which are blue with red penwork ornamentation, as here, but which drop, taking up two or three lines, impossible to do on the Internet) and rubrication, but cannot give the contractions, thorns, yochs and long tailed s's. These are transcribed into a hard copy booklet which may be ordered from Julia Bolton Holloway
 

[A115v] [A116] [A116v] [A117] [A117v] [A118] [A118v] [A119] [A119v] [A120] [A120v] [A121] [A121v] [A122] [A122v] [A123] [A123v ] [A124] [A124v] [A125] [A125v] [A126] [A226v] [A127] [A127v] [A128] [A128v] [A129] [A129v] [A130]

Jan van Ruusbroec writes his text, inspired by the Holy Spirit, upon wax tablets, his scribe putting these words to parchment pages, both together beneath the trees of Groenendaal.


For Jan van Ruusbroec, see also the Julian Library Portfolio booklet, God Friends: The Continental Medieval Mystics and the Website essay on Godfriends and the essay written by the modern contemplative, Don Divo Barsotti, on Ruusbroec. The Amherst Manuscript gives certain passages in red, and its capitals are blue with red penwork. The scribe wrote it in a fine clear Anglicana script, circa 1435-1450 in a Grantham, Lincolnshire dialect, including among these texts translations made by the Lincolnshire Carmelite Richard Misyn, for an anchoress, Margaret Heslyngton. It is possible that Richard Misyn himself is the scribe. Later, a Sheen contemplative, James Grenehalgh, heavily annotated the manuscript, usually doing so for a Syon nun, Johanna Sewell. The text, transcribed here folio by folio and line by line from the manuscript, is side by side there with the Short Text of Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love, and, with Henry Suso, Horologium Sapientiae, and Marguerite Porete, Mirror of Simple Souls, which are also present in the Amherst Manuscript, may represent Julian's own library, perhaps given her, even translated for her, by Cardinal Adam Easton, Benedictine of Norwich, who defended similar writings by St Birgitta of Sweden , for her canonization, and who is known to have written now-lost contemplative treatises and translations in the vernacular. The first illustration is by Hans Memling in the Hospital of St John, Bruges, where, for centuries, John writes the Apocalypse amidst the landscape of his vision. The second is from Birgitta of Sweden's Revelationes. Ruusbroec bases the Sparkling Stone, like Julian her Showing of Love, like Birgitta in her Revelationes, upon the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, or Showings, and upon the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, the third illustration being from a Ruusbroec manuscript, reproduced on the cover of Vanden Blinkenden Steen.


__________


Recently, I received an e-mail from China, from Beijing's Global Village's President,
Liao Xiaoyi. She came to Florence with her seventeen-year-old daughter to speak about Jan van Ruusbroec, spirituality and ecology. Then, a Belgian visitor, Paul Van Gansen, shared with me the information of Jan van Ruusbroec's Groenendaal for her:

The priory of Groenendaal started as a humble hut in the woods (http://www.filipsport.com/dutch/zonien.php, near Brussels). The hut was inhabitated by a hermit. The canons of the church of St. Goedele (in Brussels) established themselves on that spot (1343) and founded an abbey of Augustinians. The first prior was Jan van Ruusbroec. He was the best known mystic of his time. The priory was wealthy and powerful. Benefactors not only gave the Augustinian canons privileges and land, but also works of art, for instance a painting of Rogier van der Weijden.
 
The priory completely burnt down in 1435. Thanks to a plenary indulgence, granted by Pope Eugenius IV to everyone who helped to rebuilt, the abbey rose from its ashes. The new complex however, has not been spared from further calamities. Again and again the buildings were repaired and embellished.
 
In 1578, during the religious war between catholics and protestants, the monks fled to Brussels. They returned in 1606.
 
In 1784 however, the Austrian emperor Jozef II ordered the abolition of all contemplative monastic orders. Two years later the greater part of the abbey was already demolished, and all the works of art were sold.
 
Fantastic baroque choir-stalls (1663) can still be admired in the church of "Onze Lieve Vrouw" (Our Lady) at Vilvoorde (Brussels) - the main altar can be found in the church of Herfelingen - the side-altars in the church of Erps, and the confessionals at Wezembeek-Oppem.
 
After the revolution of Brabant (1789), a few monks went back to Groenendaal (1793), but the cloister was shut definitively by the French Republic in 1795.
 
Only a few buildings were saved: the house of the priors,called in Flemish "het kasteel" (the castle), and the cloister farm (1775), now called the "Bosmuseum" (museum of the woods). The castle is now let to a bridge club.
 
However, in the future, the Flemish Community will lay out an "archeological landscape". They intend to make visible the remains of ancient gardens, the profile of the terrace gardens and the alleys. The ruinous abbeychurch will be restored and fitted up as a centre of documentation of the priory of Groenendaal.
 
Everything is to be found at the limit of 2 villages:
                                                                           - Hoeilaart-Groenendaal
                                                                           - St.Genesius-Rode
A path of 5.7 km leads you to the spot.
 

Kindest regards,
 
Paul Van Gansen


I shared with him my reverence for Don Divo Barsotti, a contemplative hermit monk living above Florence who loved in turn, St Sergius of Russia, and their contemporaries, the Friends of God, Julian of Norwich and Jan van Ruusbroec. Padre modeled his hermitage, the Casa di San Sergio, upon theirs, creating within it a great library with these mystics' books. Next, Nic Peeters, gave me the Ruusbroec catalogue for our library:

Jan van Ruusbroec 1293-1381: Tentoonstellingscatalogus Met als bijlage een chronologische tabel en dire karten (Brussel: Koninklije Bibliotheek Albert I, 1981).

Our library also has:

Ioannis Rusbrochii. De Ornatv spiritvalivm nvptiarvm. Wilhelmo Iordani interprete. Ed. Kees Schepers, Bernard Desoer. Turnhout: Brepols, 2004. Reviewed for Speculum, Cambridge, 2006.

Jan van Ruusbroec. Vanden Blinckenden Steen. Lannoo: Tielt en Bussum, 1981. JBH, Bruges.

John Ruusbroec. The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works. Ed. James A. Wiseman. Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1985. JBH.

Somewhere in heaven, in a flowery woodland meadow, these mystics are dancing together, as in Fra Angelico's painting of angels and saints carolling upon flowers.




For the Internet is such a Global Village, such a Global Hermitage.



See also Amherst Manuscript and Don Divo Barsotti, Jan van Ruusbroec



JULIAN OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS ©1997-2010 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY  || JULIAN OF NORWICH  || SHOWING OF LOVE || HER TEXTS || HER SELF || ABOUT HER TEXTS || BEFORE JULIAN || HER CONTEMPORARIES || AFTER JULIAN || JULIAN IN OUR TIME ||  ST BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN  ||  BIBLE AND WOMEN || EQUALLY IN GOD'S IMAGE  || MIRROR OF SAINTS || BENEDICTINISM || THE CLOISTER || ITS SCRIPTORIUM  || AMHERST MANUSCRIPT || PRAYER || CATALOGUE AND PORTFOLIO (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS ) || BOOK REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY ||