|GLOSSARY: THE BOOK OF MARGERY
KEMPE © Stanbury/Raguin MMK
IV. Rolle, Richard to St. Marcellus Church, Rome
See also over 150 images in
MMK Devotional Images Database, arranged alphabetically
Richard of Hampole (1300-1349), also known as Richard Rolle, was a hermit
who lived in Yorkshire, England. Born to a small farming family,
Rolle was a scholarly man who studied at Oxford University for several
years before abandoning his studies to pursue a spiritual life. He was
not a member of a religious order, but chose instead to wander the countryside
in contemplation. Legend tells that he scandalized his sister by
requesting to borrow two of her dresses. He then proceeding to convert
them into the clothes of a hermit, beginning his life on that path at age
Sweet Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for the agonies which you endured for us, and for the sweet blood which you shed for us, when you were so painfully beaten and roped to the pillar so that blood on the pillar can still be seen. I ask and beg you as my dear lord for that sweet blood, which you bled so generously for me, to be full deliverance for my soul (93).[Chapter 35] [Chapter 89]
Rome in the Middle Ages was an impressive sight in the distance.
The city that the emperor Augustus turned into a gleaming city of marble,
however, was, up close, confusing and dirty. Filled with ancient
ruins, it was also the home of seven major basilicas, site of thousands
of martyrdoms, and countless relics. The accompanying indulgence
grants were the primary attractions that brought pilgrims to the ancient
city. Rome, at Kempe’s time, was the newly restored residence of
the pope. In 1309, under pressure by the French, the popes, beginning
with Clement V, had changed their residence to Avignon. In
1377, Gregory XI, urged by St. Catherine of Siena, transferred his residence
to Rome (despite continuing schismatic opposition), making the ancient
city once again the head of the Christian ecclesiastical community.
Rosary see beads
The Seven Sacraments
Sacrament of Baptism: It is believed that baptism is a “rebirth”
and marks the beginning of a Christian’s spiritual life. Usually,
this sacrament is received in infancy and it absolves the baby of original
sin, the legacy of the transgression by humanity's first parents, Adam
and Eve. The person becomes a son or daughter of Christ when he/she
is washed with water. The Holy Spirit is also invoked to bring grace
to the individual. The sacrament of baptism is required before any
of the other sacraments can be received.
Sacrament of Penance: It is believed that the sacrament of penance
is the forgiveness of sins committed after baptism. During the sacrament,
one is sorrowful for the sins and confesses those sins to a priest.
The priest then gives absolution in Christ’s name. Often a specific
penance, such as fasting, the saying of prayers, giving of alms, or travel
to a specific site (at its extreme to one of the great pilgrimage churches)
The Sacrament of the Eucharist: It is believed that through a ritual consecration, bread and wine are spiritually changed into the body and blood of Christ. Baptized Christians then “eat and drink the body and blood” of Christ. The sacrament’s ritual is based on the actions and words of Christ the day before his death, at the “Last Supper.” During the late Middle Ages, the privilege of receiving the Eucharist was greatly desired but frequent reception was discouraged. The elevation of the host during Mass, when the “sacring bell” was rung, the exposition of the consecrated bread in a monstrance often substituted for reception. In 1357 the Lay folk's catechism defined sacraments, naming the Eucharist the fourth (Modern English by V. Raguin):
The fourth is the sacrament of the altarThe Layfolk's Catechism, or the English and Latin Versions of Archbishop Thoresby's Instructions for the People. Ed. T. F. Simmons and H. E Nolloth (EETS 118) London,. 1901, lines 316-22 and 326-7, p. 66.
[Chapter 5] [Chapter 9] [Chapter 12] [Chapter 20] [Chapter 32][Chapter 33] [Chapter 45] [Chapter 48]
[Chapter 70] [Chapter 72] [Chapter 74] [Chapter 86] [Chapter 88][II: Chapter 10]
The Sacrament of Confirmation: During Confirmation, it is believed that the Holy Spirit descends upon baptized Christians in order to make them strong and perfect Christians. It is usually received by young adults. During the sacrament, the Bishop lays his hands upon the candidate and invokes the Holy Ghost to confer grace upon the individual. The person is then anointed with oil. Confirmation can only be received once.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders: Holy Orders is believed to be a sacrament by which grace and spirituality are conferred upon a baptized male to endow ecclesiastical offices. There are seven orders: priests, deacons, subdeacons, acolytes, exorcists, readers, and doorkeepers. However, only the entrance into the priesthood is considered to be a sacrament of Holy Orders. Through the imposition of hands, grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred upon the candidate to enable him to teach and command.
Sacrament of Marriage: The sacrament of marriage is the exchange
of vows between a baptized male and a baptized female. It must be entered
into under mutual consent and the marriage must be consummated (sexual
union occurring) in order to be valid. The union is blessed by a
priest and grace is conferred upon the man and woman. Marriage was
a permanent bond in the eyes of medieval church. It was an important
social event, being of great importance for family ties. Portions of the
ceremony in the late Middle Ages were conduced at the entrance porches
The Sacrament of Extreme Unction: Extreme Unction is believed to bring comfort and to restore spiritual and bodily health to baptized Christians who are seriously ill or in danger of dying. It also absolves the person of his sins. During the sacrament, the recipient is anointed with consecrated oil on his eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, hands, and feet. Sometimes, the priest only anoints the person’s forehead. Extreme Unction can be repeated if the person is again in danger of death. The processing of the consecrated host, the viaticum, formed an important part of its ritual importance in the Middle Ages. People were taught to keel down and recite prayers when it passed, and were encouraged to follow the procession for added spiritual benefit when possible. See Miri Rubin. Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991: 79-82.
Ann St. Ann is the mother of the Virgin Mary (who is the mother
of Jesus). The angel Gabriel revealed to Ann that her long period
of bareness would end when she conceives a daughter, who “shall be blessed
by all the world.” By the late Middle Ages, Ann is seen as the central
figure in the Holy Kinship, comprising Christ’s uncles, aunts, and cousins,
many of who became his apostles. The story of Ann and the infancy
of the Virgin was elaborated in early Christian sources such as the Protoevangelium
of St. James, which supplied stories, extremely common in art, that became
accepted by Christian tradition and popular imagination. Bibliography:
Interpreting Cultural Symbols: Saint Anne in Late Medieval Society.
Ed. Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingorn. Athens: University of Georgia
Press, 1990. See Holy Kinship
Augustine The renowned philosopher and theologian of the Early
Christian church, St. Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354-August 28, 430)
remained an extremely influential religious figure during the medieval
period. The author of the great tome, City of God (413-426), Augustine
was not entirely virtuous as a youth. He fathered an illegitimate
child and was a member of a heretical sect of Christianity, known as the
Manichaeans. Influenced by Ambrose of Milan, as well as his mother,
Monica, Augustine underwent a conversion in 383. His spiritual autobiography,
the Confessions (c. 400) became a model for affective piety.
His expressions of unworthiness and awe of God's greatness were particularly
well received in the late Middle Ages, and resonated with the themes in
Margery Kempe's autobiography. Heavily influenced by neo-Platonic
ideals and the writings of St. Paul, Augustine's philosophical writing
became a major influence on medieval learning. He was ordained as
a priest in 391 and later became bishop of Hippo in northern Africa.
Augustine encouraged his followers to rise above desire and vice to reach
God and to not get lost in the material world. He believed that the
Trinity, not its individual members, should be the focus of prayer and
Barbara St. Barbara was a popular late medieval saint
often considered one the "three holy maidens" with Catherine and Margaret.
She was believed to have lived in Asia Minor during the 3rd century.
Her father locked her in a tower to discourage unwanted suitors. While
in the tower she was converted to Christianity by a priest who entered
disguised as a doctor. Upon learning of her conversion, her father pursued
her, even to handing her over to Roman authorities for torture. As
she was about to be executed by her father's sword, he was struck by a
lighting bolt. Barbara was therefore invoked for protection against
lightening and sudden death. She is most frequently depicted with a chalice
and a wafer, depicting the sacrament of the Eucharist administered during
Extreme Unction, a sacrament given to the gravely ill and dying.
A tower almost always accompanies her image.
St. Bridget St. Bridget of Sweden was born in 1303 and died on July 23rd, 1373. Her father, Birger, was the royal prince of Sweden and her mother, Ingeborg, was a very pious woman. Bridget received attentive religious training from a young age and liked to meditate on the Passion of Christ. In 1316, at age thirteen, she was married to Ulf Gudmarsson, who was eighteen. St. Bridget and her husband had eight children, the youngest of whom later became St. Catherine of Sweden. After her children were born, St. Bridget and her husband made a vow of chastity. She had discussions with many learned theologians and was received at the court of King Magnus Eriksson. In 1341, she and her husband made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Her husband died in 1344 and thereafter St. Bridget devoted herself entirely to religion. Her visions became much more frequent. She believed that Christ appeared to her and she wrote down her many revelations. She compiled her revelations into a book, which was later translated into Latin as well as into Middle English and other vernacular languages. This book was very popular in the Middle Ages and encouraged the formation of her cult following. St. Bridget founded an order of nuns, the Bridgettines. She journeyed to Rome in 1349 and remained there until her death. While living in Rome, she made several pilgrimages, among them one to the Holy Land in 1373. St. Bridget was canonized in October 1391 and her feast day is July 23rd. The patron saint of Sweden, she is also known as St. Birgitta, and to the English as St. Bride.
In the late 14th century,
the Church of St. Bridget was built in Rome and dedicated by Pope Boniface
IX, who also canonized the saint on October 7, 1391. It was located
on the site of Bridget's house in Rome, where she had opened a hostel and
eventually died, caring for pilgrim Swedes. The church was restored
in 1513, but in ca. 1540, it was temporarily abandoned after Sweden became
Lutheran. Around 1550, Pope Julius III declared it a hostel for converts.
In the 18th century, Pope Clement XI repaired the foundation, built the
current structure and gave the hostel to the Order of the Holy Savior.
The Church of St. Bridget is located just to the right of the Piazza Farnese.
Catherine St. Catherine of Alexandria was one of the most popular
saints in the late Middle Ages. Believed to have been a well-educated princess,
she was seen to have a special relationship with Christ, described as a
mystical marriage. By the 13th century, at least, her story began to be
elaborated in a variety of dramatic renderings. During the persecution
of a pagan emperor, often identified as Maximinus (305-313) ruler of the
Eastern part of the Roman empire, Catherine refused to worship Roman gods
and argued with his counselors over points of philosophy and faith. The
pagan scholars were so persuaded that they converted. Maximinus then
attempted to make Catherine his wife, but Catherine remained true to her
mystical spouse, Christ. When the king attempted to torture her on
a wheel (her symbol) an angel destroyed it. Finally she was beheaded. Her
body was believed to have been transported by angels to Mt. Sinai, site
since Constantine’s time of a renowned monastery dedicated to St. Catherine.
Elizabeth St. Elizabeth was a cousin of the Virgin Mary and
the mother of St. John the Baptist. The Visitation, commonly represented
in art, is the moment when Mary, pregnant with Christ, visits Elizabeth,
far advanced in her pregnancy with John the Baptist. Elizabeth greets
Mary with the words, “Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb” (Luke 1:42).
St. Elizabeth of Hungary St. Elizabeth of Hungary, also known as Elizabeth of Thuringia, was born in 1207 in Saros Patak, Hungary. Her father was King Andrew II. She died November 17, 1231 in Marburg, Germany at age 24. Even as a child growing up in the luxurious Wartburg Castle, Thuringia, Elizabeth was extremely pious and devoted to prayer. In 1221, Elizabeth married the son of Landgrave Hermann I, Ludwig, who succeeded his father as ruler of Thuringia. They had three children.
During this time, Elizabeth
was taught the ideals of St Francis by Brother Rodger. She embraced
these teachings and in 1225 built a Franciscan monastery in Eisnach.
She observed all the Franciscan vows, including chastity, humility, patience,
prayer, and charity. However, she was forbidden from embracing poverty
because of her social status. Flood and famine struck Thuringia in
1226 providing Elizabeth with an opportunity to demonstrate her piety in
Ludwig’s absence. Elizabeth provided alms and clothing to the poor
and built a hospital. After her husband’s death in 1227, Elizabeth
claimed her dowery and received the robes of the Tertiary Order of St.
Francis. The following year, she built a Franciscan hospital at Marburg.
Francis Francis of Assisi was born in central Italy in 1182,
the son of a linen merchant. After a youth that was pleasant but
undistinguished, he experienced a conversion. The moment of his rejection
of worldly life by stripping off his clothes and casting himself on the
church, is often depicted in art. Pope Innocent III gave Francis and his
early followers verbal approval for their Rule in 1210. The Friars
Minor, the official name of the Franciscans, like the Dominicans, developed
in an era when ministry to the laity had become a crucial need in church
structure. His followers began to gain great support for their espousal
of poverty and also their dedication to the preaching. Francis preached
before Pope Honorius III and in popular tradition even preached to the
birds and other animals. He traveled to Spain and North Africa and
finally to Syrian in an effort to convert the Muslims. As part of his ministry
to the average citizen, he devised pious aids, such as a life-size model
of the crib at Bethlehem for the celebration of Christmas. The climax of
his spirituality came when he imitated Christ by fasting 40 days and 40
nights in a mountain retreat. With the Gospels open to the Passion of Christ,
Francis experienced a vision of a winged seraph surrounding an image of
the crucified Christ from whose wounds he received the marks of the
stigmata in his own body. This empathy with the suffering Christ
was to have a profound effect on later medieval spirituality. At
his death in 1226, the Franciscan movement had already established far-flung
missions. By the end of the 13th century it was one of the most powerful
orders in Western Christendom.
St. James at Compostela see Santiago
St. Jerome St. Jerome (345-420) is considered one of the four Western (Latin) Doctors of the church (with Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory the Great). He is revered in popular tradition as a desert recluse and ascetic and also for his prodigious learning. After baptism at the age of 19, he lived an ascetic life in northeastern Italy under Bishop Valerian. He then traveled to Antioch, Turkey, and began a two-year retreat into the desert; there he wrote of a dream in which he was accused of being a “Ciceronian not a Christian,” meaning that his studies had concentrated on Latin classical authors and on the beauty of fine rhetorical style. He subsequently began to study Hebrew and to perfect his knowledge of Greek, skills crucial to his work as Biblical scholar. His authoritative translations of the Old and New Testaments became the definitive Latin text known as the Vulgate. He worked in a variety of centers of learning, including Antioch and Constantinople, and returning to Rome, became secretary to pope Damasus I.
Jerome also became spiritual
director for a group of noble Roman women, notably St. Paula, a wealthy
widow. After the death of Damasus, Paula and her companions followed
Jerome to Palestine and traveled to the Egyptian desert monastic communities,
finally settling in Bethlehem. There Paula built a double monastery,
that is, a single administrative unit with separate facilities for men
and for woman, not an unusual structure in the Early Church. It was
there that Jerome died. Jerome’s body was later taken to Rome to Santa
Maria Maggiore. Eugene F. Rice, Jr.. Saint Jerome in the Renaissance
. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 1985.
John the Baptist St John the Baptist, a prophet, martyr,
and relative of Jesus is referred to in the Scriptures as “the man sent
from God.” His birth, like that of Jesus, was foretold by the angel
Gabriel (Luke 1:5-24, 57-80). The Virgin Mary was present at his
birth and cared for his mother, Elizabeth, as well as the newborn.
St. John was responsible for the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River (Luke
3:1-22), where he announced “Behold the Lamb of God.” He was imprisoned
and beheaded by Herod (Matt. 14:1-12). He is commonly represented
with a long unkempt beard and garments made of skin and holding an image
of the Lamb of God.
John St. John the Evangelist was the son of Zebedee and
brother of James the Greater. John, James, and Peter were the only witnesses
to several of Christ’s miracles, notably the Transfiguration. John
was the first Apostle to reach Christ’s empty tomb and believe in the resurrection.
Speaking from the cross, Jesus gave the Virgin Mary into John's keeping,
saying (John 19:26-27) "Woman, behold thy son (and) Son, behold thy mother."
In medieval images of the crucifixion, Mary usually stands on Christ’s
right (dexter) and John, with his book, on Christ’s left (sinister). Tradition
accepted that John was also present at Christ's entombment. John's
symbol as an evangelist is the eagle, signifying the theological heights
reached by his Gospel. John is also considered the author of the
Book of Revelations, or Apocalypse, the only prophetic book of the New
Testament. His symbol, as well as the eagle, is a chalice with serpents
emerging, a reference to an attempt on his life by the king Aristodemus.
He prepared a poison of crushed toads and serpents. After John blessed
the cup, the creatures reformed and left; the liquid then resurrected three
men who had been killed when Aristodemus had tested the poison. See the
socle below the statue of John the Evangelist, Chartres Cathedral, north
transept, central portal, c. 1220.
John Lateran, Rome The property surrounding St. John Lateran
basilica was given to the church by the emperor Constantine the Great in
the c. 340. An already extant structure was made into a church that
became the head of ecclesiastical worship in Rome and the seat of the bishop
of Rome, the pope and his residence. Even when the residence of the
pope moved to the Vatican upon his return from Avignon in 1377, St. John
Lateran remained his official seat. In 1450, John Capgrave listed that
St. John Lateran had a special indulgence attached to its altar, so that
Capgrave also lists that plenary
indulgences can be won by approaching the bishop's seat/throne at St. John
Lateran "for worship, prayer, or pilgrimage" and by coming to the basilica
on the feast day of its consecration and "devoutly pray(ing) there."
A special plenary indulgence is attached to both the chapel of St. John
and the chapel of the Holy of Holies. (These chapels were closed
Marcellus’s Church in Rome The church of St. Marcellus, which
is listed among the churches of Rome as early as the 5th century, is said
to be erected on the site of Pope St. Marcellus's residence. Among
its important relics were the body of St. Marcellus and the heads of Sts.
Cosmas and Damian. It was also the burial place of Leo III, Hadrian
I, and Gregory I. In 1519, the structure was damaged by a fire and
Jacopo Sansovino was commissioned to rebuild it. In his construction
Sansovino reversed the orientation of the church.
|back to the top|