Anthology

Medieval Writings on Female Spirituality (Penguin Classics)

Medieval Writings on Female Spirituality (Penguin Classics)

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0140439250

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Biographies, poetic compositions, works that are mystical, prophetic, visionary, or meditative: the selections here reflect the developments in medieval piety, particularly in the link between female spirituality and the body. Included are the dramatic visionary writings of Hildegard of Bingen; letters and poems by Hadewijch expressing passionate love for God; and Marguerite Porete's allegorical poem "The Mirror of Simple Souls," a dialogue between Love and Soul that was condemned as heretical. Also included are biographies written by male ecclesiastics of women such as Christine the Astonishing, whose extraordinary behavior included being resurrected at her own funeral; revelations received by Bridget of Sweden, the first woman to found a religious order; and excerpts from The Book of Margery Kempe, in which Margery imagines herself as a servant caring for the Virgin Mary in her childhood.

This volume, edited by Elizabeth Spearing, who also prepared some of the translations, features a rich introduction to the lives and religious experiences of its subjects, as well as full explanatory notes.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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the third year, and I hope yet that I shall have my wish. Good sir, I pray you to grant what I shall ask, and I shall pray for you to be saved through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall have more reward in heaven than if you wore a hair-shirt or wore a coat of mail as a penance. I pray you, allow me to make a vow of chastity at whichever bishop’s hand that God wills.” “No,” he said, “I won’t allow you to do that, because now I can make love to you without mortal sin, and then I

another as it was done, but just as the matter came to this creature’s mind when it was to be written down....” It is also likely that she worked and reworked material in her head as she thought about it and as she related it to other people; many people are reworking an internal autobiography throughout their lives, and this is even more likely to happen in a culture where memories were not usually recorded in writing. Furthermore, it is clear from her Book that Margery was in the habit of

certain things based on these, though I scarcely had literary understanding, inasmuch as a woman who was not learned had been my teacher.2 But I also brought forth songs with their melody, in praise of God and the saints, without being taught by anyone, and I sang them too, even though I had never learnt either musical notation or any kind of singing. When these occurrences were brought up and discussed at an audience in Mainz Cathedral, everyone said they stemmed from God, and from that gift of

with immeasurable delight she held Him at one moment to her virginal breast, at another she felt His presence within her even through the barrier of her flesh. Who shall describe the abounding sweetness with which the servant was filled by this condescension of her creator? From that moment the fire of lust was so completely extinguished that never afterwards could it be revived. (f) Christina, moreover, who obtained cures for others from heaven, suffered from grievous ailments which she had

with a long belly, and said, “I advise you to stop believing such things as your understanding cannot encompass and to believe those things which your understanding shows you clearly. For you see with your eyes and hear with your bodily ears the breaking of the material bread of the host. You have seen it taken from the place where it was reserved and thrown away, you have seen it being improperly handled and falling to the ground, which I would not allow to happen to myself. Still less will God

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