Margery Kemp Essay, Research Paper
Evaluate Margery’s interactions with the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. How are her “real world” relationships affected by the advice and teachings they give her?
According to her own testimony, Margery Kempe’s spirituality involved deeply passionate experiences of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Kempe had “the gift of tears” — meaning that, for years, she was unable to attend mass without crying profusely, and, as often as not, sobbing loudly and theatrically. Her adventurous life included a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where much weeping and wailing took place, and tanglings with several Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In chapter 3 Margery has a rather jumbled account of a vision of heaven. Then Margery starts to begin to have the desire to stop having sex. Which I assure you doesn’t go well with her husband. Finally in chapter 3 it describes both two years of peace and three years of temptations Kempe went through.
Later in chapter 5 Kempe has her first conversation with God (Jesus), and is assured of his forgiveness, and given instructions to take communion weekly, and finally is told to go to a certain anchorite for confirmation that her revelations were real. By this time while I was reading this book it got really confusing. Chapters 6 & 7 are a vision of Mary, her mother, and the birth of both Mary and later Jesus. Margery believes herself in service to Mary, as though she was actually present through Jesus’ birth and the flight to Egypt. When the vision is done, Margery would like to die and go to heaven, but is told to stay and pray for the world. Chapter 8 continues her vision of various people being saved because of her love of them. Finally in chapters 9 through 11 Margery finally got her will in ceasing all sexual relations with her husband and began making pilgrimages.
I’m going to skip a lot of chapter to Chapter 31. Here Margery goes to Rome via Assisi, and finds a ring which is in effect her wedding ring to Christ. This was really weird, why did she think this ring was her wedding ring? Then Margery meets with a priest who becomes her protector all the time she is in Rome. God “provides” a miracle in which they can understand each other’s speech, though she speaks no German and he speaks no English. Margery, who has been wearing white (virgin’s clothing, suggesting a religious vow) is asked by this priest to leave off wearing it, and she obeys. He also sends her to be servant to a poor woman, as a form of penance, though I’m not sure what for. Although she starts to wear white again in chapter 37 because God tells her to.
Then later on Margery has a literal marriage to God, followed by visions of angels, divine smells and music, and a warmth in her breast which lasts, she tells us, 16 years. One result is that she weeps when she sees a handsome man on the street, because it makes her think of Christ. Later on she elaborates on the marriage with a strong suggestion of a sexual consummation. Here and in the next chapter 37, there are more conversations with God and he promises to be closer to her. She is also told to resume wearing white, which her confessor allows because he sees it’s God’s will and doesn’t dare object. Then God has her give away all her money, so that she must live on charity. She doesn’t like this at all, but God reassures her with people who give her charity and help. Then a Priest came from England who helps her get back home.
Margery en route home is hauled before the Mayor of Leicester. He is convinced that she is a heretic. He takes her home to his wife for some strange reason instead of taking her to jail. Then the Steward of Leicester takes her, questions and threatens her, but finally leaves her alone, unsure whether she is a very holy woman or a very evil one (truthfully I can’t figure it out either). Her two travel companions are also taken and jailed, but set free when a storm frightens all the townsfolk. The fear is that the Mayor will have Margery burned on a stake, quite common for heretics like Joan of Arc. But this doesn’t happen.
Again Margery is in white clothing. It may suggest that she is claiming something that she does not have, virginity. This might be another strive to be closer to God (her husband). But I don’t know.
We find Margery at York again having to deal with hostility. Evil talk about her has preceded her, but she also finds many who won’t pay attention to that and who care for her. Again, her white clothing seems to get her in trouble. She finds herself being questioned again for being a heretic. Then in the next chapter she is in trouble again, this time taken before the Archbishop of York. She is not convicted of anything, but the Archbishop would like to get her out of his diocese as quickly as possible, and to stop her teaching, though she claims she neither teaches nor preaches, and has every right to talk. There in York Margery tells a little tale or fable of a priest and a bear, which is about false or impure priests, and certainly annoys some priests, though the Archbishop approves. Finally, she is given an escort and allowed to go back to York and then to leave.
To conclude we find Margery crying and weeping all through out the book. I find this to be some sort of depression, maybe it is because she can’t be with God in heaven so she feels the need to cry. All through out the book Margery is getting people into trouble with her reputation of being “evil”. Just one of the instances is the time her travel companions were thrown into jail in Leicester. Then there is the thing of having no sex with her first husband. I know that effected him, like it would with any husband. Personally I don’t think that Margery was a “mystic”. I think the reason why she weeped so much is because she always had to lie to keep up her life. The more she lied about seeing God to stay live the more she realized that she was falling farther from God.