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General History

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Showing 1 - 20 from 38 entries

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Margery Kempe in the Holy Land- c. 1438
submitted by S. Suleiman

[Margery Kempe, an English mystic, is on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and has just arrived in Jaffa. Her frequent crying has so irritated her fellow pilgrims that they abandon her whenever they can. Taken from chapters 28-30 of The Book of Margery Kempe. The following is in the original Middle English as transcribed on http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/kemp1frm.htm

The 'tempyl' mentioned below is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the 'Sarazines' are the Saracens- the Muslims.

Margery is so overwhelmed by the sight of Jerusalem that she nearly falls off of her ass and has to be assisted by her fellow pilgrims the rest of the way to the city. She describes her visits to holy sites in the city as well as Hebron, Ein Karim, Bethany, and other places associated with Christ. She also compliments the local people, and the 'Sarazyns' especially, for being kinder to her than her fellow English pilgrims.]

And so sche had evyr mech tribulacyon tyl sche cam to Jherusalem. And, er sche cam ther, sche seyd to hem that sche supposyd thei weryn grevyd wyth hir. "I prey yow serys, beth in charité wyth me, for I am in charité wyth yow and forgevyth me that I have grevyd yow be the wey. And, yyf any of yow hath anything trespasyd agens me, God forgeve it yow and I do." And so thei went forth into the Holy Lond tyl thei myth se Jerusalem. And, whan this creatur saw Jerusalem, rydyng on an asse, sche thankyd God wyth al hir hert, preyng hym for hys mercy that lych as he had browt hir to se this erdly cyté Jerusalem he wold grawntyn hir grace to se the blysful cité of Jerusalem abovyn, the cyté of hevyn. Owyr Lord Jhesu Cryst, answeryng to hyr thowt, grawntyd hir to have hir desyr. Than, for joy that sche had and the swetnes that sche felt in the dalyawnce of owyr Lord, sche was in poynt to a fallyn of hir asse, for sche myth not beryn the swetnesse and grace that God wrowt in hir sowle. Than tweyn pylgrymys of Duchemen went to hir and kept hir fro fallyng, of whech the on was a preste. And he put spycys in hir mowth to comfort hir, wenyng sche had ben seke. And so thei holpyn hir forth to Jerusalem. And, whan sche cam ther, sche seyd, "Serys, I prey yow beth nowt displesyd thow I wepe sore in this holy place wher owyr Lord Jhesu Crist was qwyk and ded." Than went thei to the tempyl in Jerusalem, and thei wer latyn in on the to day at evynsong tyme and abydyn therin til the next day at evynsong tyme. Than the frerys lyftyd up a cros and led the pylgrimys abowte fro on place to an other wher owyr Lord had sufferyd hys peynys and hys passyons, every man and woman beryng a wax candel in her hand. And the frerys alwey, as thei went abowte, teld hem what owyr Lord sufferyd in every place. And the forseyd creatur wept and sobbyd so plentyuowsly as thow sche had seyn owyr Lord wyth hir bodyly ey sufferyng hys Passyon at that tyme. Befor hir in hyr sowle sche saw hym veryly be contemplacyon, and that cawsyd hir to have compassyon. And whan thei cam up onto the Mownt of Calvarye sche fel down that sche mygth not stondyn ne knelyn but walwyd and wrestyd wyth hir body, spredyng hlr armys abrode, and cryed wyth a lowde voys as thow hir hert schulde a brostyn asundyr, for in the citéof hir sowle sche saw veryly and freschly how owyr Lord was crucifyed. Beforn hir face sche herd and saw in hir gostly sygth the mornyng of owyr Lady, of Sen John and Mary Mawdelyn, and of many other that lovyd owyr Lord. And sche had so gretcompassyon and so gret peyn to se owyr Lordys peyn that sche myt not kepe hirsel fro krying and roryng thow sche schuld a be ded therfor. And this was the fyrst crythat evyr sche cryed in any contemplacyon. And this maner of crying enduryd man yerys aftyr this tyme for owt that any man myt do, and therfor sufferyd sche mychdespyte and mech reprefe. The cryeng was so lowde and so wondyrful that it made the pepyl astoynd les than thei had herd it beforn and er ellys that thei knew the cawse of the crying. And sche had hem so oftyntymes that thei madyn hir ryth weyke in hir bodyly myghtys, and namely yf sche herd of owyr Lordys Passyon. And sumtyme, whan sche saw the crucyfyx, er yf sche sey a man had a wownde er a best whethyr it wer, er yyf a man bett a childe befor hir er smet an hors er another best wyth a whippe, yyf sche myth sen it er heryn it, hir thowt sche saw owyr Lord be betyn er wowndyd lyk as sche saw in the man er in the best, as wel in the feld as in the town, and be hirselfe alone as wel as among the pepyl. Fyrst whan sche had hir cryingys at Jerusalem, sche had hem oftyn tymes, and in Rome also. And, whan sche come hom into Inglonde, fyrst at hir comyng hom it comyn but seldom as it wer onys in a moneth, sythen onys in the weke, aftyrward cotidianly, and onys sche had fourteen on o day, and an other day sche had seven, and so as God wolde visiten hir, sumtyme in the cherch, sumtyme in the strete, sumtym in the chawmbre, sumtyme in the felde whan God wold sendyn hem, for sche knew nevyr tyme ne owyr whan thei schulde come. And thei come nevyr wythowtyn passyng gret swetnesse of devocyon and hey contemplacyon. And, as sone as sche parceyvyd that sche schulde crye, sche wolde kepyn it in as mech as sche myth that the pepyl schulde not an herd it for noyng of hem. For summe seyd it was a wikkyd spiryt vexid hir; sum seyd it was a sekenes; sum seyd sche had dronkyn to mech wyn; sum bannyd hir; sum wisshed sche had ben in the havyn; sum wolde sche had ben in the se in a bottumles boyt; and so ich man as hym thowte. Other gostly men lovyd hir and favowrd hir the mor. Sum gret clerkys seyden owyr Lady cryed nevyr so ne no seynt in hevyn, but thei knewyn ful lytyl what sche felt, ne thei wolde not belevyn but that sche myth an absteynd hir fro crying yf sche had wold. And therfor, whan sche knew that sche schulde cryen, sche kept it in as long as sche mygth and dede al that sche cowde to withstond it er ellys to put it awey til sche wex as blo as any leed, and evyr it schuld labowryn in hir mende mor and mor into the tyme that it broke owte. And, whan the body myth ne lengar enduryn the gostly labowr but was ovyr come wyth the unspekabyl lofe that wrowt so fervently in the sowle, than fel sche down and cryed wondyr lowde. And the mor that sche wolde labowryn to kepe it in er to put it awey,mech the mor schulde sche cryen and the mor lowder. And thus sche dede in the Mownt of Calvarye, as it is wretyn beforn. Sche had so verycontemplacyon in the sygth of hir sowle as yf Crist had hangyn befor hir bodily eye inhys manhode. And, whan thorw dispensacyon of the hy mercy of owyr sovereyn savyowr Crist Jhesu it was grawntd this creatur to beholdyn so verily hys precyows tendyr body, alto rent and toryn wyth scorgys, mor ful of wowndys than evyr was duffehows of holys, hangyng upon the cros wyth the corown of thorn upon hys hevyd, hys blysful handys, hys tendyr fete nayled to the hard tre, the reverys of blood flowyng owt plenteuowsly of every membr, the gresly and grevows wownde in hys precyows syde schedyng owt blood and watyr for hir lofe and hir salvacyon, than sche fel down and cryed wyth lowde voys, wondyrfully turnyng and wrestyng hir body on every syde, spredyng hir armys abrode as yyf sche schulde a deyd, and not cowde kepyn hir fro crying, and these bodily mevyngys for the fyer of lofe that brent so fervently in hir sowle wyth pur pyté and compassyon. It is nowt to be merveyled yyf this creatur cryed and made wondirful cher and cuntenawns, whan we may se eche day at eye bothe men and women, summe for los of werdly good, sum for affeccyon of her kynred er for werdly frenshepys thorw ovyr fele stody and erdly affeccyon, and most of alle for inordinat lofe and fleschly affeccyon yyf her frendys er partyn fro hem, thei wyl cryen and roryn and wryngyn her handys as yyf thei had no wytte ne non mende, and yet wetyn thei wel inow that thei displesyn God. And, yyf a man cownsel hem to leevyn er seesyn of her wepyng er crying, thei wyl seyn that thei may not; thei lovyd her frend so meche and he was so gentyl and so kende to hem that thei may be no wey forgetyn hym. How meche mor myth thei wepyn, cryen, and roryn yyf her most belovyd frendys wer wyth vyolens takyn in her sygth and wyth al maner of reprefe browt befor the juge, wrongfully condemnyd to the deth, and namely so spyteful a deth as owr mercyful Lord suffyrd for owyr sake. How schuld thei suffyr yt? No dowt but thei schulde bothe cry and rore and wrekyn hem yyf thei myth, and ellys men wold sey thei wer no frendys. Alas, alas, for sorwe, that the deth of a creatur whech hat oftyn synned and trespasyd ageyn her maker schal be so unmesurabely mornyd and sorwyd. And it is offens to God and hyndryng to the sowlys on eche syde. And the compassyfe deth of owyr Savyowr, be the whech we arn alle restoryd to lyfe is not had in mende of us unworthy and unkende wretchys, ne not we wylle supportyn owyr Lordys owyn secretariis whech he hath indued wyth lofe, but rathyr detractyn hem and hyndryn hem in as mech as we may.


Whan this creatur wyth hir felawshep cam to the grave wher owyr Lord was beriid, anon, as sche entryd that holy place, sche fel down wyth hir candel in hir hand as sche schuld a deyd for sorwe. And sythen sche ros up ageyn wyth gret wepyng and sobbyng as thow sche had seyn owyr Lord beriid even befor hir. Than sche thowt sche saw owyr Lady in hir sowle, how sche mornyd and how sche wept hir sonys deth, and than was owyr Ladiis sorwe hir sorwe. And so ovyr al wher that evyr the frerys led hem in that holy place sche alwey wept and sobbyd wondyrfully, and specialy whan sche cam ther owyr Lord was nayled on the cros. Ther cryed sche and wept wythowtyn mesur that sche myth not restreyn hirself. Also thei comyn to a ston of marbyl that owyr Lord was leyd on whan he was takyn down of the cros, and ther sche wept wyth gret compassyon, havyng mend of owyr Lordys Passyon. Aftyrwardys sche was howselyd on the Mownt of Calvarye, and than sche wept, sche sobbyd, sche cryed so lowde that it wondyr was to heryn it. Sche was so ful of holy thowtys and medytacyons and holy contemplacyons in the Passyon of owyr Lord Jhesu Crist and holy dalyawns that owyr Lord Jhesu Crist dalyed to hir sowle that sche cowde nevyr expressyn hem aftyr, so hy and so holy thei weryn. Meche was the grace that owyr Lord schewyd to this creatur whyl sche three wekys was in Jerusalem. Another day erly in the morwenyng thei went ageyn to the gret hyllys. And her gydes teld wher owyr Lord bare the cros on hys bakke, and wher hys Modyr met wyth hym, and how sche swownyd, and how sche fel down and he fel down also. And so thei went forth al the fornoone tyl thei cam to the Mownt Syon. And evyr this creatur wept abundawntly al the wey that sche went for compassyon of owyr Lordys Passyon. In the Mownt Syon is a place wher owyr Lord wesch hys disciplys fete, and a lityl therfro he mad hys Mawndé wyth hys disciplys. And therfor this creatur had gret desyr to be howselyd in that holy place wher owyr mercyful Lord Crist Jhesu fyrst sacryd hys precyows body in the forme of bred and gaf it to hys discipulys. And so sche was wyth gret devocyon, wyth plenteuows teerys, and wyth boystows sobbyngys, for in this place is plenyr remyssyon. And so is in other four placys in the tempyl. On is in the Mownt of Calvarye; an other at the grave wher owyr Lord was beriid; the thridde is at the marbyl ston that hys preciows body was leyd on whan it was takyn of the cros; the ferd is ther the holy cros was beriid, and in many other placys of Jerusalem. And, whan this creatur cam into the place ther the apostelys receyved the Holy Gost, owyr Lord gaf hir gret devocyon. Aftyrward sche went to the place ther owyr Lady was beriid, and as sche knelyd on hyr knes the tyme of tweyn messys heryng, owyr Lord Jhesu Crist seyd onto hir, "Thu comyst not hedyr, dowtyr, for no nede but for meryte and for mede, for thy synnes wer forgovyn the er thow come her, and therfor thu comyst hedyr for incresyng of thi mede and of thi meryte. And I am wel plesyd wyth the, dowtyr, for thu stondist undyr obedyens of Holy Cherch and that thu wylt obey thi confessowr and folwyn hys cownsel, whech thorw auctorité of Holy Cherch hath asoyld the of thi synnes and dispensyd wyth the that thu schuldist not go to Rome ne to Seynt Jamys les than thu wyl thin owyn selfe. Notwythstondyng al this, I comawnde the in the name of Jhesu, dowtyr, that thu go vysite thes holy placys and do as I byd the, for I am above al Holy Cherch and I schal gon wyth the and kepyn the rygth wel." Than owyr Lady spak to hir sowle on this maner, seying, "Dowtyr, wel art thu blyssed, for my sone Jhesu schal flowyn so mech grace in the that al the world schal wondryn of the. Be not aschamyd, my derworthy dowtyr, to receyve the gyftys whech my sone schal gevyn the, for I telle the in trewth thei schal be gret gyftys that he schal geve the. And therfore, my derworthy dowtyr, be not aschamyd of hym that is thi God, thi Lord, and thi lofe, no mor than I was whan I saw hym hangyn on the cros, my swete sone, Jhesu, for to cryen and to wepyn for the peyn of my swete sone, Jhesu Crist; ne Mary Mawdelyn was not aschamyd to cryen and wepyn for my sonys lofe. And therfor, dowtyr, yyf thu wylt be partabyl in owyr joye, thu must be partabil in owyr sorwe." Thes swet spech and dalyawns had this creatur at owyr Ladiis grave, and mech mor than sche cowde evyr rehersyn. Aftyrward sche rood on an asse to Bedlem and whan sche cam to the tempyl and to the crybbe wher owyr Lord was born, sche had gret devocyon, mech spech, and dalyawns in hyr sowle, and hy gostly comfort wyth mech wepyng and sobbyng so that hir felaws wold not latyn hir etyn in her cumpany. And therfor sche ete hir mete be hirselfe alone. And than the Grey Frerys whech had led hir fro place to place receyved hir into hem and sett hir wyth hem at the mete that sche schuld not etyn alone. And on of the frerys askyd on of hir felawshep yyf that wer the woman of Inglond the which thei had herd seyd spak wyth God. And, whan this cam to hir knowlach, sche wist wel that it was trewth that owyr Lord seyd to hir er sche went owt of Inglond, "Dowtyr, I schal makyn al the werld to wondryn of the, and many man and many woman schal spekyn of me for lofe of the and worshepyng me in the."


An other tyme this creaturys felawshep wold gon to Flod of Jurdon and wold not letyn hir gon wyth hem. Than this creatur preyd owyr Lord that sche myth gon wyth hem, and he bad that sche schuld go wyth hem whethyr thei wold er not. And than sche went forth be the grace of God and askyd hem no leve. Whan sche cam to the Flood of Jurdan, the wedyr was so hoot that sche wend hir feet schuld a brent for the hete that sche felt. Sithyn sche went forth wyth hir felawschep to the Mownt Qwarentyne ther owyr Lord fastyd fowrty days. And ther sche preyd hir felawshep to helpyn hir up onto the Mownt. And thei seyd nay, for thei cowd not wel helpyn hemself. Than had sche mekyl sorwe for sche myth not comyn on the hille. And anon happyd a Sarazyn, a welfaryng man, to comyn by hir, and sche put a grote in hys hand, makyng to hym a token for to bryng hir onto the Mownt. And as swythe the Sarazyn toke hir undyr hys arme and led hir up onto the hey Mownt wher owyr Lord fastyd fowrty days. Than was sche sor athryste and had no comfort of hir felashyp. Than God of hys hey goodnes mevyd the Grey Frerys wyth compassyon and thei comfortyd hir whan hir cuntremen wolde not knowyn hir. And so sche was evyrmor strengthyd in the lofe of owyr Lord and the mor bold to suffyr shamys and reprevys for hys sake in every place ther sche cam for the grace that God wrowt in hir of wepyng, sobbyng, and crying, the which grace sche myth not wythstonde whan God wold send it. And evyr sche prevyd hir felyngys trewe. And tho behestys that God had behyte hir whil she was in Inglond and in other placys also thei fellyn to hir in effect lych as sche had felt beforn, and therfor sche durst the bettyr receyven swech spechys and dalyawns and the mor boldly werkyn theraftyr. Sithyn, whan this creatur was comyn down of the Mownt, as God wold, sche went forth to the place ther Seynt Jon Baptyst was born. And sythyn sche went to Betanye ther Mary and Martha dwellyd and to the grave ther Lazer was beriid and reysed fro deth into lyfe. And sche went also in the chapel ther owyr blyssed Lord aperyd to hys blysful modyr on Estern Day at morwyn fyrst of alle other. And sche stode in the same place ther Mary Mawdelyn stode whan Crist seyd to hir, "Mary, why wepyst thu?" And so sche was in many mo placys than be wretyn, for sche was three wekys in Jerusalem and in the cuntreys therabowtyn. And sche had ever gret devocyon as long as sche was in that cuntré. And the Frerys of the Tempyl mad hir gret cher and govyn hir many gret relykys, desiryng that sche schuld a dwellyd stille amongs hem, yyf sche had wold, for the feyth thei had in hir. Also the Sarazines mad mych of hir and conveyd hir and leddyn hir abowtyn in the cuntré wher sche wold gon. And sche fond alle pepyl good onto hir and gentyl saf only hir owyn cuntremen. And, as sche cam fro Jerusalemward unto Rafnys, than wold sche a turnyd ageyne to Jerusalem for the gret grace and gostly comfort that sche felt whan sche was ther and for to purchasyn hir mor pardon. And than owyr Lord comawndyd hir for to gon to Rome, and so forth hom into Inglond, and seyd unto hir,"Dowtyr, as oftyntymes as thu seyst or thynkyst, 'Worshepyd be alle tho holy placys in Jerusalem that Crist suffyrde bittyr peyn and passyon in,' thu schalt have the same pardon as yyf thu wer ther wyth thi bodily presens bothyn to thiself and to alle tho that thu wylt gevyn it to."

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