Margery Kempe, Then & Now

by   |  09.12.09  |  221- Middle Ages

    Sarah Standbury’s site at Holy Cross helps illustrate the importance of Margery Kempe’s achievement as a believer, as a woman, and as an author: 

      Margery Kempe’s spiritual biography is often called the first autobiography in English. A married woman who attempted to live a life devoted to Christ, Margery sought official Church recognition for her status as a spiritual woman and mystic, while continuing to live and travel in the secular world. She experienced intense emotional visionary encounters with Christ, which have at times a strikingly homely quality. Her Book, dictated by her to a scribe, records these visions as well as her travels in Europe and pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her particular spiritual trial, according to her Book, was to be misrepresented, persecuted, and rejected by many of her clerical and lay peers. The recording of her spiritual life, despite severe difficulties and her own illiteracy, became a symbolic act in itself, representing both her claim to spiritual status and evidence of her special relationship with God. Rich in detail about the people and places Margery encountered, the Book is a fascinating record of life in turbulent early 15th century England. (Mapping Margery

    This site maps the intersections of religious belief and social attitudes represented by The Book of Margery Kempe through examples of the material culture of fifteenth-century England. Spend 15-20 minutes exploring images which investigate the place of the Parish Church, the Cathedral, Devotional Images, and Pilgrimage in the life of a medieval believer. How do these images help illustrate or challenge your idea of Catholic Christianity in the century before the Reformation?

    The site also includes an Outline of Kempe’s text with a detailed Glossary of unfamiliar terms such as anchorite, brewing, or chaste marriage which may be useful as you read.

    Mapping Margery Kempe

Margery Live! Interview

    After reading and reflecting on The Book of Margery Kempe, this week you will have the unique opportunity to see an interview with the author. Her story was first transcribed by a priest, then lost for almost 500 years, before reappearing in 1934 to be recognized and reinterpreted by secular critics. Now, after a long meditative silence, Ms. Kempe has decided to go back on the record to respond to charges of indecency, heresy, and lunacy. Don’t miss this exclusive interview hosted by Dr. Bill Rankin. 

    Margery Live! – Video

    Margery Live! – Audio

    This interview is based on a live chat Margery held with ACU Online students several years ago. If you have trouble with the video, you’ll find a transcript of that event below.

    Margery Live! transcript