V. St. Margaret to York

See also over 150 images in MMK Devotional Images Database, arranged alphabetically 
See also Catholic Encyclopedia (1905-17), despite the date still useful as a first reference

St. Margaret St. Margaret of Antioch was the patron of pregnant women. Although historically unverified, she was one of the most popular female saints of the Middle Ages.  According to legend, Margaret, who was from Antioch in Asia Minor, was tortured and imprisoned when she resisted becoming the wife of the Roman prefect Olybrius.  While she was in prison a devil in the form of a dragon devoured her. When she made the sign of the cross, the dragon split open and she emerged unscathed; hence her special popularity for pregnant women. 
St. Margaret was from Antioch in Asia Minor.  The century in which Margaret lived is uncertain; she may have died during the persecution of  Diocletian (AD 303-5).  Her legend, however, was well-known throughout Europe by the fifth century.  St. Margaret was the daughter of a pagan priest named Theodosius.  After her mother died, or perhaps in response to a debilitating illness, she lived with a country woman who raised her as a Christian, tending tended the flocks of sheep that the woman raised on her land. This self-proclaimed holy virgin was sought after by Olybrius, a lusty Roman prefect who tried to kill her when she resisted becoming his wife.  He attempted to boil her in a cauldron and burn her, but she was shielded by God from both attempts on her life.  She was finally beheaded.  Other accounts explain that a dragon, which was really Satan, swallowed Margaret alive and then burst open, with Margaret emerging unhurt.  The power of her cross held up to the dragon overcame the power of sin.  Because she emerged unhurt from the ‘womb’ of the dragon, she is associated with childbirth. Many images of St. Margaret show her with her symbol, the dragon, which she is usually trampling while holding a cross, or a staff with cruciform top, in her hand.  She is also represented in art as a shepherdess.  Other symbols she may carry are a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or she is pictured standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. 
Bokenham, Osbern. A Legend of Holy Women of 1447. Trans. Sheila Delany. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992. 
Winstead, Karen A. Virgin Martyrs: Legends of Sainthood in Late Medieval England. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. 
[Chapter 4]   [Chapter 22]   [Chapter 35]   [Chapter 86]   [Chapter 87]   [II: Chapter 7]

St. Margaret's Church  Lynn’s central parish church, founded in the 12th century, is dedicated to St. Margaret.  In this large church, only the nave areas were accessible to the citizens of the town.  The transepts and the long choir to the east were the exclusive domain of the clergy who were dependent on the cathedral's priory of the Holy Trinity in Norwich. Although historically unverified, Margaret of Antioch was one of the most popular female saints of the Middle Ages.  One of the great virgin saints, she was nonetheless a special patron saint of pregnant women; the name Margery is a derivation of Margaret. See MMK Database Devotional Images 
[Chapter 5]   [Chapter 9]   [Chapter 23] [Chapter 57]   [Chapter 67] [Chapter 68]   [Chapter 69] [Chapter 70]
[Chapter 75]   [Chapter 85]

St. Margaret’s Eve St. Margaret’s Eve is the day before June 20th, the feast day of St. Margaret of Antioch.  The liturgical calendar marked the great Christian feasts and seasons of preparation: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost.  Individual saints were honored with their own days.  These were either universal - marked by all Christian practice - or local, simply honored by a region.  For example, Hugh of Lincoln’s feast was regional, St. Margaret's or St. Nicholas, on December 6, universal. 
[Chapter 4]

St. Mary of Egypt Mary of Egypt was frequently associated with Mary Magdalene as an exemplar of a great penitent. Her legend was popular in the west from at least the 13th century and it appears in stained glass windows at Chartres, Bourges, and Auxerre cathedrals.  Once a prostitute, she converted after a visit to Jerusalem. She removed herself into the desert across the Jordan and was befriended by a priest called Zozimas who gave her Holy Communion, after which she died.  Miraculously a lion came to help dig her grave. 
[Chapter 21]   [II: Chapter 10]

St. Mary Magdalene St. Mary Magdalene was a devoted follower of Jesus during his public ministry.  Tradition described her as a daughter of a wealthy family, beset with temptations, specifically lust.  According to the biblical text the conversion of Mary occurred when she felt to the feet of Jesus, cleaned them with her tears, wiped them dry with her hair, and perfumed them with oils (Lk 7:36).  The most commonly cited biblical references of Mary are her presence at the Crucifixion alongside Jesus’ mother (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40; John 19:25) and as the first witness to the empty tomb and resurrected Christ (Jn 20:1-2, 11-18).  Following the death of Jesus, legend places Mary Magdalene in the desert of southern France living a life of solitude.  Mary is traditionally portrayed in Christian art as the weeping sinner at the feet of Jesus.  She also may be depicted as a long-haired woman carrying a vase containing the oils she used on Jesus’ feet. 
Bokenham, Osbern. A Legend of Holy Women of 1447. Trans. Sheila Delany. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992. 
Hawkins, Susan. Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor. New York, 1993. 
Winstead, Karen A. Virgin Martyrs: Legends of Sainthood in Late Medieval England. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. 
[Chapter 21]   [Chapter 22]   [Chapter 28]   [Chapter 29]   [Chapter 30]   [Chapter 73]   [Chapter 74]   [Chapter 80]   [Chapter 81]   [Chapter 84]
[Chapter 86]   [Chapter 87]   [II: Chapter 10]

St. Nicholas Church, Lynn  Margery Kempe shows vehement opposition to the granting the privilege of baptism to the church of St. Nicholas in Lynn, founded as a chapel of St. Margaret’s, her own parish church.  In 1374 and again in 1432, coinciding, it seems, with new building campaigns, the parishioners of St. Nicholas sued to have a christening font, to conduct marriages, and to perform the rite of purification after childbirth.  Kempe introduces this issue by an oblique statement, characteristic in her work, that this dispute arose “in a worshepful town.”  In reality, her father, while mayor, had also been opposed to this innovation.  The mayor “John de Brunham” appears in the three lists of burgesses attesting in 1378 to reasons to refuse privileges of the sacraments of marriage, baptism, and purification to St. Nicholas. Brunham had been mayor in 1370, then for two consecutive terms, 1377-8. The kind of font that the parishioners of St. Nicholas would have commissioned can be seen in the font now in St. Andrew's Church, Norton. (See MMK Parish and Cathedral) An early 15th century form, it has room for painted armorials, invariably to be claimed by the important families of the parish. 
[Chapter 73]

St. Paul St. Paul, along with St. Peter, was one of the most frequently cited spiritual authorities in the Middle Ages.  To St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, Paul was simply “the Apostle.”  Paul’s life and conversion are described in the Acts of the Apostles.  As a Romanized Jew, Paul, then named Saul, witnessed the death of St. Stephen (Acts 7:58) and then took part in the persecution of the Early Church.  While traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus, he was blinded by a light from heaven and a voice called, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?” (Acts 9:4).  Paul was converted to the Christian faith; he regained his sight and became the great preacher of the Early Church.  The major portion of the Bible after Acts are given to the Epistles - or letters - that Paul was believed to have written to the churches he visited on his extensive travels.  These letters were read as part of the ritual of the Mass since the 9th century. Paul was martyred by being beheaded (the death accorded a Roman citizen).  His depiction in art shows a standard physiognomy of long face and nose, long beard, and balding head, as well as the attribute of the sword. 
[Chapter 17]   [Chapter 18]   [Chapter 21]   [Chapter 22]   [Chapter 52]   [Chapter 65]   [Chapter 72]
[Chapter 87]   [II: Chapter 10]

St. Peter St. Peter was accepted in the Middle Ages as the first pope and the person to whom Christ had given his primary spiritual authority.  This is based on the Gospel event when Jesus asked Peter who he was.  Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God," to which Christ replied,"Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:16-19).   Because of his denials of Christ immediately after his arrest (Matt.26:69-75), Peter was seen as a great penitent, a model that was very popular in the late Middle Ages.  Peter, like St. Paul, was executed by Roman authorities, Peter crucified head downwards because legend has it that he told his executioners that he was not worthy to receive the same death as Christ.  Constantine built a great basilica, St. Peter's, over the grave of the saint in 320-32.  Peter is evoked as the symbol of the Roman pontiff and both the spiritual and temporal power of the Christian church, since the popes claimed temporal authority over a large area on central Italy. The saint is depicted in art as a having a short curly beard and curly hair with a balding cranium and invariably holding a great set of keys. 
[Chapter 17]   [Chapter 81]   [Chapter 87]

St. Peter’s church St. Peter’s basilica is built over the grave of St. Peter (died c. 64 AD) the leader of the Apostles and the first pope.  Constructed c. 320-27 by the Emperor Constantine, it was one of the largest buildings in the world and the most important pilgrim shrine in Europe.  After the popes of Avignon returned to Rome in 1377, they made the Vatican hill and St. Peter’s their place of residence, though the basilica of St. John Lateran remained the pope’s official seat in Rome. During the latter Middle Ages, especially during the 14th century when the popes were either absent from Rome or challenged by anti-popes, the Early Christian building that consisted of a very long nave and open atrium or courtyard fell into disrepair.  This is the church visited by Margery Kempe. 
The present building dates from the complete reconstruction begun by Pope Julius II in 1506.  Old St Peter's was leveled and new plans, altered several times during construction, were drawn up in the Renaissance style.  Ultimately a centrally-planned church (designed by Bramante and Michelangelo) was extended into a Latin cross to occupy roughly the same space as the original basilica.  The addition of Bernini's great colonnade in the mid 17th century further enhanced the site by monumentalizing the square itself. Margery Kempe would have been primarily interested in the great wealth of relics and accompanying indulgences available to the faithful visiting St Peter's. 
[Chapter 42]

St. Vitalis St. Vitalis (Feast Day, April 28) was the father of saints Gervais and Protase, and among the Roman martyrs much honored by the universal church, noted in the Golden Legend of Jacobus of Voragine.  He was tortured and executed in Ravenna under the persecution of the Emperor Nero about 62 A.D.  There is a church dedicated to him in Rome and the great church, San Vitale in Ravenna, is one of the great wonders of architectural form and mosaic embellishment of the Early Christian era. 
[II: Chapter 1]

St. William’s shrine, Cathedral of York   St. William’s Shrine is that of William Fitzherbert, Archbishop of York (d. 1154); miracles were reported at his tomb in the Minster, and he was canonized in 1227.  His relics were moved to a new shrine in 1281. There was a strong cult of the saint at York. 
[Chapter 51]

Santiago  Santiago de Compostela , or St. James, of Compostela is a pilgrimage shrine in northwestern Spain.  Since the 9th century it was believed to be the site of the burial of the body of the Apostle James.  The great basilica built over the spot that became the most important European pilgrimage site after Rome.  The church that was visited by Margery Kempe was substantially completed from 1070 to 1210.  A description of the church is present in the Latin text of the Pilgrim's Guide written by an anonymous Frenchman in the 1130s.   The building was quite large, listed as "in length fifty-three times the stature of a man."  The portals were carefully described, including the Puerta de las Platerias with its images of the Lord blessing Adam and Eve.  Most attention was given to the body and altar of St. James, and the furnishings such as the altar frontal, ciborium, as well as a description of the clergy and authority of the church.  In 1188 the Portico de la Gloria was built with three-dimensional statue columns of prophets and apostles and a colossal Christ showing his wounds on the tympanum.  In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries English pilgrims usually went overland after travelling to Paris.  In Kempe's time (spring , 1417) a ship took her from Bristol to Compostela.  An English pilgrim's guide was written in the 14th-century. 
Melczer, William. The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela . New York: Italica Press, 1993. Shaver-Crandell, Annie and Paula Gerson with the assistance of Alison Stones, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela: A Gazetteer. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1995. 
Stokstad, Marilyn. Santiago de Compostela in the Great Age of Pilgrimage . Norman, Oklahoma, 1978 reprinted 1993. 
[Chapter 15]   [Chapter 29]   [Chapter 44]   [Chapter 45]   [Chapter 49]   [Chapter 61]   [Chapter 62]

Saracen Saracen is a term used in the Middle Ages to describe any person (Arab, Turkish, etc.) who followed the religion of Islam. During the time of Roman domination, the term had referred specifically to an Arab tribe living in the Sinai Peninsula. Later, Christians used the term to apply to all Muslim subjects. 
[Chapter 30]   [Chapter 57]   [Chapter 84]   [II: Chapter 10]

Sermons or preaching Today, the sermon is usually a part of a church service, but during the Middle Ages it was held separate from the service, often even given outside of the church in a town square. Sermons, called preaching, were public performances. Popular preachers, like St. Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444), whose sermons lasted 3-4 hours, attracted huge public followings. The sermon was often characterized as more important than the mass itself because the sermon provided the people with practical advice for their daily lives.  The popularity of the sermon spread through the efforts of the Preaching Friars (Dominicans) and the Friars Minor (Franciscans). (see Preaching Friars and Friars Minor
The Archbishop of York, mentioning the authority of St Paul, told Kempe that she could not preach in his diocese.  He referred to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians stating “women should keep silent at the meeting.  They have no permission to talk, but should keep their place as the law directs.  If there is something they want to know, they can ask their husbands at home.  It is a shocking thing for a woman to talk at a meeting” (1 Corinthians 14: 34-35). Lay preaching had been expressly condemned by the 1409 Constitutions. Lay preaching was thus potentially a capital offense—and even worse if the preacher was a woman. See Anne Hudson. The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 436. 
De Ore Domini: Preacher and Word in the Middle Ages. Ed. Thomas Ames, Eugene Green, and Beverly Kienzle. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 1989. 
Owst, Gerald. Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1961. 
"The Pastoral Transformation of the 13th Century" in André Vauchez, The Laity in the Middle Ages: Religious Beliefs and Devotional Practices . Ed. Daniel E. Bornstein, trans. Margery J. Schneider. University of Notre Dame Press: South Bend, Indiana. 1993. 
[Chapter 41]   [Chapter 59]   [Chapter 61]   [Chapter 68]   [Chapter 77]   [Chapter 78]   [Chapter 88]
[Chapter 89]   [II: Chapter 2]

Sheen In 1415 Henry V founded a Carthusian monastery at Sheen called the House of Jesus of Bethlehem of Sheen on the south bank of the Thames. Across the river he founded a Bridgettine house, the monastery of St. Savior and St. Bridget of Syon (known as Mount Syon of Sheen).  Sheen is now a part of greater London called Richmond on Thames, the site of Hampton Court Palace.  The founding of the house is linked to royal marriage. Philippa, Henry's sister, had married King Eric of Denmark and Sweden in 1406.  Swedish Bridgettine nuns traveled through Lynn on their visits to Syon abbey. David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955 rep. 1979: 175-81. 
In 1431 the Bridgettine monastery was moved a little further down the river to a site now occupied by Syon House. Kempe went to the new site, probably in 1434, undoubtedly attracted by the indulgences (pardons), especially associated with Lammas Days.  Mount Syon became a renowned center of mystical piety.  It enjoyed great royal favor and was an influence on Continental mystical development throughout the 15th century. 
Fletcher, John R. The Story of the English Bridgettines of Syon Abbey . Syon Abbey, 1933. 
Hogg, James. "The Contribution of the Bridgettine Order to Late Medieval English Spirituality." Spiritualität Heute unde Gestern: Internationaler Kongres vom 4 bis 7 August 1982. In Analecta Cartuasiana 35:3 (1983): 4-164 
Hutchison, Anne M. "Devotional Reading in the Monastery and in the Late Medieval Household." In De Cella in Secularum; Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Late Medieval England. Ed. Michael G. Sargent. Boydell & Brewer: Cambridge. 1989, 214-28. 
[II: Chapter 10]

shriven  To be shriven is to be confessed and be pardoned for one’s sins.  One of the seven sacraments of the church, 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. In the late Middle Ages, frequent confession, even to two a three times a day, was a goal of intense spirituality. 
[Chapter 3]     [Chapter 4]    [Chapter 12] [Chapter 13]   [Chapter 32]   [II: Chapter 2]

slashed  Slits (slashes) were often cut into fine garments so that the material worn under them could puff out through the slits. This created a multicolored effect, most often around the sleeves for clothing of both genders and also in the pantaloons of men. 
[Chapter 2]   [Chapter 45]   [II: Chapter 2]

Stations of Rome As early as the third century, there was a practice of celebrating a pontifical Mass (an unusually elaborate ritual) at an appointed church within the diocese (the community of parish churches under the authority of a bishop).  A set schedule of days was established so that all the parish churches would be visited at some point during the year.  On penitential days (traditionally Wednesday and Friday) the faithful would gather at a church close to the appointed one and process together behind a wooden cross to the church at which the Mass was to be held. 

Pope Gregory I (590-604) reorganized the schedule of Roman stations, his ordering has remained largely unchanged throughout the centuries.  The popularity of this devotion plummeted when the popes took up residence in Avignon in 1305.  Upon their return in 1377, the practice was renewed, although it never again experienced comparable popularity.  During Kempe's visit from August of 1414 through April of 1415, she would have been exposed to these traditions.  The fact that she remained in Rome though the Lenten season, when the indulgences for the Stationary Churches were viable, would argue that she would have fulfilled the obligations.  John Capgrave, an Austin Friar from Lynn, Kempe’s own town, visited Rome between 1447 and 1452 (about 35 years after Kempe). Capgrave records the order of the Stations in his book. 
Capgrave, John, Ye Solace of Pilgrimes: A Description of Rome circa A.D. 1450 by John Capgrave, an Austin Friar of King's Lynn, ed. C. A. Milles, London: Oxford University Press, 1911. 
[Chapter 39]

Stimulus Amoris see Prick of Love

stockfish (rat gnaws the stockfish) The stockfish, codfish cured and dried, was a standard commodity in Lynn, a major seaport.  In this quote Kempe likens her suffering to the perpetual gnawing of a rat on a fish that cannot easily be eaten.  The homey reference bespeaks the associations of Kempe’s society, one of merchant exchange. 
[Chapter 5]   [Chapter 37]

Stralsund Stralsund is a major port on the Baltic coast, in northeastern Germany (Mecklenburg).  The city was chartered in 1234 and was an important member of the Hanseatic League.  Its church of St. Mary and town hall date from the 13th century. 
[II: Chapter 5]

sucking even at Christ’s breast This expression "sucking" echoes a central concept in the Revelations of Julian of Norwich, an anchoress who Kempe visited: The human  mother will suckle her child with her own milk, but our beloved Mother, Jesus, feeds us with himself, and with the most tender courtesy does it by means of the Blessed Sacrament, the precious food of all true life (Revelations Chapter  60).  This construction emphasizes that Kempe is receiving her thoughts directly from Jesus, who is in essence is directly feeding her soul and spirituality.  Imagery that transcends gender boundaries is often a part of medieval spiritual writing. 
Bynum, Caroline Walker. Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion. New York: Zone, 1991. 
Bynum, Caroline Walker. Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. 
[Chapter 5]

Teutonic Knights For the protection of Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land several groups of crusading knights organized themselves into military orders during the 12th century: the Knights Templar, mostly French, the Knights Hospitaler, mostly Italian, and the Teutonic knights, mostly German.  These knights took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  The Teutonic Knights began with a pilgrims' hospital in Jerusalem.  During the 13th century they were enlisted in the conquest the remaining pagan tribes of Europe, the Prussians and the Lithuanians. By the 14th century the order had become a powerful force in the Baltic region and its headquarters in Marienburg was the largest castle in Europe.  During Kempe's visit, 1433, the Knights were in serious dispute with English.  The English had failed to pay a tax that had been agreed to since1407.  In 1429 the English King Edward III had declared the tax invalid. In retaliation the Knights exacted heavy tribute from English merchants and hindered visits by English citizens. 
[II: Chapter 4]

three kings with their gifts Three kings with their gifts, also called the wise men or magi, followed the star to Bethlehem to find the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).  The Gospel simply mentions wise men, but because three gifts are described of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, their number was set at three since their first representations.  By the end of the Middle Ages, the kings became associated with three human stages of youth, prime of life, and old age. 
[Chapter 7]

Trinity According to traditional Christian belief, God is triune, composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons possessing a single, divine nature.  The Father (Pater ) is the creative principle, the Son (Filius), Jesus Christ, the redemptive principle, and the Holy Ghost or (Spirit) Sanctus Spiritus serves as the unifying love between the two as well as the connective principle between God and humanity.  Christians took Christ's injunction in the Gospel text (Matt. 28:18-20) "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" as a formula for the ritual of baptism.  The Trinity was a major devotional focus in the later Middle Ages, with many churches, including the cathedral of Norwich being dedicated to the Trinity.  The Lollards, a significant political and spiritual movement in central England in the 14th and 15th centuries, challenged the belief. See Richard Rolle, The Fire of Love for a 14th-century defense of the Trinity. 
[Chapter 7]    [Chapter 11]   [Chapter 33]   [Chapter 35]   [Chapter 85]   [Chapter 86]   [II: Chapter 1]
[II: Chapter 10]

Trinity Sunday Trinity Sunday is the feast day honoring the Holy Trinity.  The doctrine of the Trinity dates from the early years of Christian tradition, but popular devotion to this aspect of God reached its peak in the later Middle Ages.  A solemn feast day celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost (usually falling in the month of June) was extended to the universal church in 1334 by Pope John XXI. The gifts of the Holy Ghost are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.  In the octave (8 days of commemoration) after Trinity Sunday, these gifts are evoked in a succession of daily masses of great solemnity. 
[Chapter 44]

underlaid  Underlaid refers to the fashion practice of slashing garments to expose the material worn under them. A decorative fabric would be underlaid allowing it to be exposed through the slashes. 
[Chapter 2]

Venice  Venice is sometimes called the "Queen of the Adriatic." A cluster of islands connected by bridges in the lagoon of Venice offered ideal protection as a port.  Its location linking Western Europe with the East is unparalleled.  Overland routes from German and France pass through Switzerland and the rich farmland of Northern Italy. Venice emerged from the Fourth Crusade (1202-04) with an empire that included Crete and other Greek Islands; with the defeat of Genoa in 1381 it gained more land and commercial hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Venice was a republic ruled by a council of prominent citizens headed by a Doge.  Their cultural patronage made Venice one of the most richly embellished cities of the late Middle Ages. 
During Kempe's visit in Venice the great cathedral of San Marco, constructed in styles of Byzantine, Greek, and Gothic, had acquired its extensive mosaic cycles.  The huge brick churches of the Preaching Orders were complete.  The Dominicans were located in San Giovanni e Paolo to the north, and to the south, the Franciscans were housed in Santa Maria de Gloriosa (the Frari).  Still with its narrow streets barred to vehicular traffic and canals, the city offers a location that encapsulates much of what an early 15th-century pilgrim would have experienced. 
[Chapter 27]   [Chapter 30]

Vicar of St. Stephen's Kempe refers to Richard of Caister (d. 1420) of St. Stephen's in Norwich who in addition to providing Margery Kempe with spiritual support, was credited with writing a popular devotional lyric entitled “Jesu, Lorde, that madest me.”  Kempe mentions him in both Chapters 17 and 43.  The parish church of St. Stephen's is now a large, late-Gothic building with splendid hammer beam roof, tall aisles, and clerestory dating to the late 15th century.  Its foundation dates to charters confirmed by Henry II between 1096, when the cathedral was founded, to 1135.  It was probably one of the 15 churches listed in the Doomsday book (1086) and one of the 60 churches of the city known in 1300.  The oldest parts, tower base and southern doorway, of the present church date to the mid 14th century.  There are extant brasses, in particular a woman about 1410 with two small pilgrims (with staves) saying their beads (rosary) at her feet. 
[Chapter 17]   [Chapter 43]

Walsingham After Canterbury, Walsingham was the site most frequently by English Pilgrims.  Located at less than 5 miles from the sea and 15 miles north-east from King's Lynn, Walsingham offered unusual ways to honor the Virgin.  It housed a shrine of the Incarnation, believed to have been a miraculous replica of the room where Gabriel appeared to the Virgin to announce that she would become the mother of Christ (after the holy house at Loretto, Italy, transported by angels from the Holy Land).  A miracle-working image of the Virgin and a relic of the Virgin's milk further intensified the site as one where the most intimate connection to the Mother of God could be accomplished.  Close to the church was a well where pilgrims bathed in hope of cures.  The Slipper Chapel, where pilgrims removed their shoes before entering the priory, is still extant, but much restored.  The rest of the site is almost entirely destroyed. 
[II: Chapter 2]

Whit Sunday see Pentecost

white clothes For medieval society, as in most traditional societies, dress marked the status of individuals. In the time of Margery Kempe, a consecrated virgin was allowed to wear white and was considered to be among the holiest of individuals, free to devote her life and love entirely to God.  Although Kempe was clearly not a virgin, she wished to acquire the virtues of consecrated virginity; to accomplish this she must gain the privilege of wearing of all white clothing. In Chapter 15, Kempe has a vision in which the Lord proclaims to her, “And, daughter, I say to you that I want you to wear all white clothes and no other color, for you shall dress according to my will.” 

White was hard to come by in a world with only natural bleaches.  The starkness of white denotes a much stronger connotation than simple impracticality in the work place; it also symbolizes adherence to spiritual values.  This association can be documented in Matthew 26, in which all of the inhabitants of heaven are clothed in white, indicating purity and goodness.  The reader is provided with evidence that Kempe knew and understood the link between white and holiness.  In Chapter 6 Kempe has a vision of the Virgin Mary as a child in which she is clad in, “fair white clothing and white kerchiefs.” In Chapter 21, Kempe reveals that in her vision from the Lord, he tells her, “For though the state of maidenhood be more perfect and more holy than the state of widowhood, and the state of widowhood more perfect than the state of wedlock, yet I love you, daughter, as much as any maiden in the world.”  Therefore, although she did not fit the technical definition of a virgin, she believed that God saw her as a maiden, and thus she had a right to conduct herself as such. Hope Emily Allen, pp. 116 and 124n, also notes that in 1399 Richard II issued a proclamation forbidding entrance to England of members of a religious sect (the Flagellants), who wore white, “Blanche Vestûre,” The Book of Margery Kempe. Ed. Hope Emily Allen and Sanford Brown Meech. London: EETS, 1940. See MMK Town Life
[Chapter 6]   [Chapter 15]   [Chapter 30] [Chapter 31]   [Chapter 34] [Chapter 37]   [Chapter 44] [Chapter 48]   [Chapter 52] [Chapter 85]

Wilsnack In 1383 the church of Wilsnack and its village, burned.  In the aftermath a priest discovered three hosts (Eucharist) unharmed but spotted with blood, preserved in the church's tabernacle.  The news soon attracted numerous pilgrims, although scholarly opinion, even during Kempe's time, challenged the authenticity of the phenomenon. The same sparing of the host from fire that initiated the pilgrimage to Wilsnach was recorded in Lincolnshire. Philip Repyngdon, Bishop of Lincoln, from whom Kempe received permission for a chaste marriage (Ch. 15), authenticates the event.   In 1405 he granted a 14 days indulgence for persons contributing to the rebuilding of the Yarborough Parish Church in Lincolnshire what had been destroyed by fire.  He explains that the cause had been blessed by a miracle.  The fabric wrapping the host had been untouched by the flames while the ivory and copper elements of its receptacle had been burned: the furious blaze burnt everything that it could find on the altar, even the double conical pyx of ivory within and without, containing with great care this vital bread . . .  and only that bread enclosed within a little silken compartment which could not have withstood such a fury remained miraculously whole. Miri Rubin. Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 124-25. 
The reverence for Christ's Passion, the relics of Holy Blood at Hailes, Bruges, and Westminster Abbey, and the miracles associated with the host (such as the vision of St. Gregory of Christ appearing to him showing his wounds that became a popular devotional icon in the late Middle Ages) would support the popularity of such a miracle.  The intensity of devotion of the Holy Blood was not as strong in England as on the Continent. (Rubin, 314) 
[II: Chapter 4]   [II: Chapter 5]

woman who was taken in adulteryIn the Gospels (John 8:3-10), Christ is confronted by Scribes and Pharisees who wish to test him by bringing a woman caught in adultery, knowing that Mosaic law would punish her with death by stoning.  Christ "stooping down, began to write with his finger on the ground," presumably common sins. He replied, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her."  One by one, they departed until none were left who had accused the woman.  Christ then told her to go and sin no more.  The story is invariably presented as a rebuke against hypocrisy and a demonstration of God's eternal forgiveness of repentant sinners. 
Compare Kempe's citation of the Adulterous Woman story to the one in the late 14th century poem, 
Vision of Piers the Ploughman, B Text Passus XII, lines 74-81: 

In the Olde Lawe, as the lettre telleth, was the lawe of Jewes, 
That what womman were in avoutry taken, were she riche or poore, 
With stones men sholde hir strike, and stone hire to dethe. 
A womman, as we fynden, was gilty of that dede; 
Ac Crist of his curteisie thorugh clergie hir saved. 
For thorugh Cristes caractes, the Jewes knewe hemselve 
Giltier as afore God and gretter synne 
Than the womman that there was, and wenten awey for shame. 
[Chapter 27]   [II: Chapter 10]

Yarmouth Great Yarmouth (Norfolk), often shortened to Yarmouth, is town on the North Sea at the mouth of the river Yare.  It was a chartered and walled town, as was Lynn, from the 13th century.  The church of St. Nichols, is probably the church mentioned by Margery Kempe, as where she "offered at an image of our lady."  St. Nicholas was destroyed in World War I but has been rebuilt.  Its dedication to St. Nicholas (of Bari) for a seaport would be understandable since St. Nicholas was the patron saint of sailors.  In one of his most popular miracles he rescued a ship foundering in a storm and in another restored to life a boy who had fallen overboard. 
[Chapter 26]

York The city of York is one of the most ancient in England, The medieval chronicler, Geoffry of Monmouth, believed that its foundation dated from the time that “king David ruled in Judea.”  The Romans named the city Eboracum, fortifying it during the early second century; it became the chief military town of the British Isles. In 314, during the Council of Arles, three bishops were named from the British Isles; first from York, then London, and presumably Lincoln.  After the Saxon defeat at Hastings in 1066, the archbishop of York swore allegiance to William and was the prelate who crowned him at Westminster.  After Norman retaliation for a series of rebellions by the local townspeople and nobility, the city began to rebuilt and Thomas of Bayeux became the first Norman bishop.  It was from this time that Canterbury gradually emerged as the more important archbishopric and York lost its religious preeminence.  Kempe says that the Archbishop of York doubted her (Ch. 55) because she "didn't have my Lord of Canterbury's letter and seal."  As well as controlling the bishopric of Durham, the archbishop of York was also the principle landholder of the region.  The see was invariably subject to pressures by the King to insure that the office was held by individuals favorable to the monarchy.  The cathedral as it stands today dates primarily from the 13th and 14th centuries.  During the time of Margery Kempe, York also supported 50 parish churches, 20 of which survive today. Given Kempe's proclivity to visit churches, there is every reason to assume that she visited the most prominent ones during her visits to York, documented in her Book to 1413 and 1417.  Until her death, presumably around 1440, she may very well have made additional visits. See MMK York home page. 
[Chapter 10]   [Chapter 49]   [Chapter 50]   [Chapter 51]   [Chapter 52]   [Chapter 53]   [Chapter 54]
[Chapter 55]

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