Margery Kempe was a contemporary of Julian of Norwich. She was the daughter of a respected merchant, born in (Kings) Lynn, of a wealthy family, but never educated.
She married merchant John Kempe in the year of 1393, with whom she had fourteen children.
When Margery was in her twenties she began to have visions in which she talked to Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. In one vision, Jesus told her to go deeper in her religious practices.
This included Margery telling the father of their fourteen children that she heard
Our Lord insist that they should, from now on, live celibate lives. John Kempe, an understanding man, went along with this!
Margery Kempe's new-found faith was expressed noisily
in weepings, screamings and praying aloud during religious services
in her parish Church, St Margaret's (King's Lynn Minster).
These manifestations were understood by her
to be a gifting of the Holy Spirit for the true penitent.
In her many pleadings, she heard Our Lord say to her:
"Have mind of thy wickedness, and think on My goodness ."
Her autobiography, The Book of Margery Kempe ,
the earliest known in English,
recounts her experience of intense visions,
followed by a period of emotional disturbance.
She describes her travels, and her mystical experiences -
the long periods of communion with Jesus,
experiences that developed in her a deep compassion for the human condition.
King's Lynn Minster, Margery's parish church, says of her:
Margery was no quietly pious woman: She was a woman who liked good food, and fine dresses and hats, and to be seen by her neighbours.
She was independent, proud, outspoken and boisterous, and spoke candidly of her sexual desire and temptations. She wore a hair shirt, fasted, and persuaded her husband to join her in taking a vow of Chastity, and she failed in two businesses.
She suffered for most of her life with feeling a failure, uncertain and afraid, unsure of the path she was following.
Whilst she was generally welcomed on her travels abroad, in England she found many were against her. It was in her home town of Lynn that Margery found the most opposition and hatred towards her. Whilst Margery challenges Bishops, and ecclesiastical authorities, it is they, more than the ordinary people,
who supported her, and indeed encouraged her."
but undeniably close to God.
COLLECT: God our Father, your servant Margery Kempe
was moved to shed tears of compassion for a fallen world;
grant us the help of your Holy Spirit that we, with her,
may come to a full knowledge of your purposes
revealed in your Son Jesus Christ, our wisdom and our life.
GOSPEL: Luke chapter 7, verses 36 – 39; 44- 50
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him,
and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.
And a woman in the city, who was a sinner,
having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house,
brought an alabaster jar of ointment.
She stood behind him at his feet, weeping,
and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair.
Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself,
‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman
this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.’
Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven;
hence she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’
"Daughter, thou mayst no better please God,
than to think continually in His love." Margery Kempe