: Dante vivo || White Silence




APPENDICI: Brigida di Svezia, O.SS.S., e Chiara Gambacorta, O.P., prof.ssa Anne M. Roberts ; A Paradiso Document in the Florentine Archives, Written at Vadstena, 1397, Birger Bergh, Daniela De Rosa, Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams, Monica Hedlund, Boyd Hill, Julia Bolton Holloway ; Ser Lapo Mazzei Writes to Messer Francesco Datini about Birgitta of Sweden, Iris Origo ; The Soul a City: Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe of Lynn, Julia Bolton Holloway




Detail, Birgitta in Cave of Nativity, Pisa, Museo Nazionale di San Matteo

{ My focus will be the convent of San Domenico of Pisa, and its founding prioress, Chiara Gambacorta , whose features are recorded in the marble tomb slab created at her death in 1419 (Figure 1).[4] I wish to explore the impact that the prioress had on the commissioning, style, and imagery of the works of art produced during her prioracy and demonstrate how extensive her role in the creation of these works actually was.

Although not as familiar to us as come of her masculine contemporaries, Gambacorta is venerated as a Beata by the Church, as a local saint by Pisans, and as a key figure in the history of the Observant movement by the Dominican order.[5] She was born in 1362 to Pietro Gambacorta, who became the ruler of Pisa shortly after her birth. Called Tora by her family, she was married at 13 and widowed by age 15. To avoid another arranged marriage Tora surreptitiously entered a Franciscan convent in Pisa and took the name Chiara; her enraged family removed her from the convent and confined her for several months. Through Chiara's perseverance and the influence of Catherine of Siena and Alfonso Pecha da Vadaterra [Hermit Bishop of Jaen] - the last confessor of Saint Birgitta of Sweden - Chiara's father was persuaded to consent to his daughter's profession and ultimately to build a new convert for her.

Although she had initially chosen a Franciscan house, Chiara's final profession was to the Dominican order, and when given the means to found a convent, it was to the order of preachers and their founder it was dedicated. Pietro Gambacorta obtained the grounds and buildings of a defunct convent, and Chiara and several other women installed themselves in the convent of San Domenico of Pisa in 1382, with papal approval secured in 1385. Inspired by the lessons of Catherine of Siena, Chiara devoted the convent of San Domenico to a strict observance of the letter and spirit of the Rule of Saint Augustine and the constitutions of the Dominican order. San Domenico was, in fact, the first Dominican convent of either sex which may be called 'Observant'. Her interpretation of the rule led to strict enclosure, austerities, a truly communal life, and careful attention to Dominican customs and liturgies. The example and mode of life chosen by Chiara Gambacorta were themselves an inspiration to the more well-known Dominican friars who led the Observant movement, including Raymond of Capua, Tommaso Cafferini, Giovanni Dominicini, Leonardo Dati, and Antoninus Pierozzi.[6] . . . .

A strong-minded woman, Chiara was elected prioress of San Domenico in 1395, a post that she held until her death in 1419. She was renowned for her charity, piety, good counsel, and leadership. After her father was assassinated and much of her family killed or exiled, Chiara showed special kindness to the female members of the assassin's family. Her activity included an apostolate by correspondence involving, among others, Francesco Datini, the Merchant of Prato, and his wife, to whom she directed spiritual instruction and prayers, as well as requests for alms. . . .

[After discussing several paintings once belonging to Chiara Gambacorta's convent, San Domenico, in Pisa, a Marriage of St Catherine of Alexandria, a Marriage of St Catherine of Siena (whose stigmata took place in Chiara Gambacorta's Pisa, 1375), a Crucifixion, Ann Roberts in her article next discusses paintings which feature St Birgitta of Sweden, pp. 135-154.]

Catherine of Siena receiving the stigmata, Pisa, 1375, from Orcherd of Syon, Wynken de Worde, 1519

{ The same year that Giovanni di Pietro di Napoli painted the Crucifixion, he and Martino di Bartolomeo executed another painting for San Domenico. This is a well-preserved polyptych with the Virgin and Child at the centre of a group of saints, separated by the arcades of a gold-leafed frame (Figure 8).[43] Here we are definitely dealing with an altarpiece. . . . In the privileged spot to the right of the Virgin stands Saint Dominic with his book and lily; on the Virgin's left is John the Evangelist. Female saints are placed on the outer flanks of the altarpiece: next to Dominic is the Magdalene and next to the Evangelist is Birgitta of Sweden. . . . A fragmentary inscription in the center panel dates the painting to April 1405 (1404).[46] The altarpiece may be the object mentioned in a document from Chiara's own hand, dated 1405, which records a legacy left to the convent by Chiara's aunt, Monna Giovanna; among the gifts were funds for building the church and 'la tavola dello altare'.[47] [In a later footnote Ann Roberts notes that the nuns still have a stone tablet recording the Masses to be said for Francesco Datini's friend, Manno degli Agli, who died in Pisa, 1400, on the days of St Mary Madgalen, St Birgitta, St John the Baptist, and St Domenic. Those of St Mary Magdalen and St Birgitta are on contiguous days.]
. . .

Yet this description of the altarpiece from San Domenico is incomplete. The polyptych originally had a predella, which Miklos Boskovits has identified with five predella panels in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.[51] . . . The predellas in Berlin are attributed on the basis of style to Martino di Bartolomeo.

These predellas have as their theme the achievements and miracles of Saint Birgitta of Sweden, the mystic and reformer who died in Italy in 1373. After her death, her visions and prophecies were edited by her confessor, Alfonso Pecha da Vadaterra, Bishop of Jaen, who circulated copies of the Liber Celestis Revelationum all over Europe. Birgitta also founded a monastic order, based - like the Dominicans' - on the rule of St Augustine; the order flourished in the fifteenth century not only in her native Sweden, but in Italy, the Lowlands, and England. She was canonized in 1391, and her sanctity was confirmed in 1419 by Martin V.[52]. Although she was championed by powerful members of the order, her feast was not entered on the Dominican calendar. So her presence in the high altarpiece for the church of San Domenico cannot be linked to the order's own liturgy.

As reconstructed, the predella depict from left to right: Birgitta writing down the words of an angel (Figure 9); Birgitta writing down what Christ and the Virgin dictate (Figure 10); the Nativity of Christ as Birgitta experienced it in a vision in Bethlehem (Figure 11); her appearance in the dream of a Swedish princess standing on a column with red and white roses pouring from her mouth (Figure 12); and her delivery of pilgrims from a shipwreck (Figure 13). Thus the two images of the Swedish saint in her cell appear at the left of the predella, while two images of her miracles appear to the right. At the center is the Nativity, the most influential of Birgitta's visions; it stood directly below the Virgin and Child in the main section of the altarpiece.

The emphasis on Birgitta is surprising here. If this was the main altar of the public church, one might expect the predella to focus on Dominic, the titulae, or at least to give equal space to the other saints depicted. When we examine the altarpiece in the context of the spiritual and liturgical life of San Domenico, however, the focus on Birgitta makes sense. As we have seen, Chiara Gambacorta was especially devoted to Birgitta, about whom she learned from Birgitta's own confessor and editor. Her vita reports that she owned a copy of Birgitta's Istoria , a gift from the bishop;[53] this was probably her Revelations.[54] There are certain parallels between their lives that may explain why Birgitta had such appeal for Gambacorta: both were widows, both were concerned with reforming the church, both had the gift of seeing into people's hearts. And Chiara Gambacorta used her considerable influence in Pisa to promote the Swedish mystic's cult. Special celebrations were held in San Domenico on the saint's feast day, and Chiara arranged for public preaching about Birgitta.[55] She seems also to have maintained close ties with the Brigittine foundation in Florence, the double monastery called Paradiso; at one point about 1395, a rumor circulated that Chiara intended to leave San Domenico and enter the Florentine Brigittine house.[56]

So the altarpiece, probably destined for the high altar of the public church of San Domenico, not only reflects Chiara Gambacorta's personal devotion to Saint Birgitta, but is part of a deliberate effort on her part to promote the cult of Saint Birgitta in Pisa. As such, the themes for the predella must have been chosen to udnerscore the aspects of Birgitta's life that Gambacorta felt were most important or most persuasive to an audience in Pisa. Therefore, this predella does not show the founding of her order, which is depicted in several Tuscan manuscripts of the Revelations and in altarpieces for the Florentine Brigittine house, or the transmission of her Revelations to the Kings of the Earth, which is depicted in some of the earliest manuscripts of her Revelations.[57] The predella instead emphasizes Birgitta's writings, her visions, and her miracles. Two of the images, in fact, stress Birgitta's access to divine truth by representing the nun's taking dication from an angel and from Christ and the Virgin. Rather than presenting the content of her visions, these images stress their divine source and Birgitta's active role in recording them. She is not depicted dictating the text, although her vita makes clear that her usual procedure involved a scribe. The central predella describes her most famous vision (about which more later), which was popularized by her writings.

The choice of miracles depicted is equally selective. Although the canonization documents describe numerous miracles of healing the blind or paralytic, or Birgitta's intervention in difficult childbirths, the predellas focus on other issues. The fourth image attests to the persuasiveness and inspiration of Birgitta's words, which fall from her mouth like roses before a spellbound audience of lay people in the dream of a Swedish princess.[58] Often in her vita and in the canonization documents Birgitta is heralded for having converted a sinner by her words. A local interest may have played a part in the selection of this event from among Birgitta's miracles; a member of the community at San Domenico, Maria Mancini, had a similar vision. Having heard about Saint Birgitta, she desired to see and hear the Swedish saint, and was blessed with a vision of the saint, who instructed her in aspects of the spiritual life.[59] The final image in the predella represents Birgitta's rescue of seafaring pilgrims, a choice certainly apposite in teh seagoing culture of Pisa with perhaps a personal significance for Chiara Gambacorta, whose father had been a pilgrim to the Holy Land with Alfonso of Jaen [and Birgitta of Sweden, where they all narrowly escaped the shipwreck Birgitta had prophesied would take place]. Birgitta is presented as learned, authoritative, mystically inspired, a potent intercessor. The predella offers the viewer in the public church of this convent not only a catalogue of qualities that Chiara Gambacorta admired in Birgitta, but qualities that the viewer could associate with the nuns in the convent of San Domenico.

Confronted with a commission to execute these scenes of a relatively new saint without a standard iconography, Martino di Bartolomeo likely looked for models in the illustrated manuscripts of Birgitta's Revelations, of which several late fourteenth-century Italian examples survive. He probably found little in the Sienese tradition to supply him with sources . . . [60]. Closer parallels may be seen in manuscripts produced in Naples (an early centre of Brigittine devotion), such as Morgan Library M498, which Carl Nordenfolk has identified as one of a series of illuminated Revelations that date shortly after Birgitta's death.[61] The frontispiece of this manuscript (Figure 14) depicts Birgitta seated at a desk in the lower right corner of the composition. Martino di Bartolomeo's Birgitta (Figure 10) [is dressed in exactly the same way], sits in much the same posture, in the same direction, with a book in her lap and her hand upraised as in the Morgan miniature. A similar depiction of the saint occurs in an historiated initial on folio 8 of the Morgan manuscript.[62]

Although the Morgan manuscript may have been executed in Naples, it then traveled to Genoa as the property of Alfonso de Vadaterra, who had given a copy of the Swedish mystic's Istorie to Chiara Gambacorta probably in 1378. We cannot be certain that the book Alfonso gave to Chiara was decorated, but Alfonso was distributing such deluxe manuscripts all over Europe at this time and he may have given the daughter of Pisa's ruler a book rather like his own. The similarities in parts of Martino's predella to some of the images in the Morgan manuscript suggest that he was looking at something like the Morgan Revelations, for which Gambacorta would be the logical intermediary. Chiara, then, would have been important to the altarpiece not only in selecting the themes to be depicted, but in providing models from which the artist could work.

Chiara Gambacorta was probably the force behind the commission of another work of art dedicated to Saint Birgitta, an image of her vision of the Nativity at Bethlehem , also in Pisa's Museum and with a firm connection to San Domenico (Figure 15). This panel has been assigned to several Pisan artists, but is currently attributed to the Pisan painter Turino Vanni.[63] The theme is the same as the central predell of the high altar. In her vision, Birgitta saw the Virgin dressed in a gown of white, having cast off her outer garment and shoes, adoring the newborn Christ who lay naked on the ground. She describes Saint Joseph holding a candle whose light was outshone by the supernatural glow of Mother and Child. Popularized by her Revelations, this vision greatly influenced the iconography of the Nativity in the fifteenth century.[64]

Turino Vanni, St Birgitta's Vision at Bethlehem . Pisa, Museo Nazionale di San Matteo ( Courtesy, Soprintendenza ai beni ambientali, architettonici, artistici e storici, Pisa). The painting shows the scene as Birgitta described it in Revelationes VII , with the Virgin taking off her shoes and blue robe [in Birgitta's text this is white], and veil, giving birth in merely her white shift, having brought with her two lengths of white linen, lying beside her and the Child, in which to wrap him. She addresses the Child: "Bene veneris, Deus meus, Dominus meus et filius meus!" ['Welcome, my God, my Lord and my Son'], words which are painted in the same scene in Birgtta's Vision of the Nativity in the Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art. A third version is at Santa Maria Novella .

The painting from San Domenico faithfully depicts these picturesque details in the context of an otherwise conventional nativity scene, which includes such standard features as the ox and ass, music-making angels and the annunciation to the shepherds in the distance. The mountainous setting refers to the grotto where the vision took place. This mountain formation has three alcoves in which the figures are placed, with the Virgin and Child in the largest opening at the center, Joseph in a separate alcove on the right, and Birgitta herself in an alcove on the left. [This arrangement recalls the cave at Bethelehem, adjoined by the further caves of Jerome and Holy Paula and Eustochium.] In a mandorla above the scene appears God the Father, from whom rays of light descend on Christ, the Virgin, Saint Joseph, and Birgitta herself. Birgitta is thus a partner in this event, equal at least to St Joseph; in fact, her position at the left of the composition makes her more prominent than Saint Joseph.

(Ann Roberts next discusses the Niccolo di Tommaso altarpiece, now in the Johnson Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, of the same scene. [This altarpiece is likely the one discussed and commissioned in Francesca Papazzuri's letter to Lapa Acciaiuoli , immediately following Birgitta's death, and to be placed in her chapel, thus having a Naples/Rome/Florence ambience. Jan Svanberg has demonstrated that Niccolo di Tommaso was likely the Revelationes illuminator for Alfonso de Jaen's presentation copies of the Revelationes to Popes and Emperors, such as those now in Palermo and in the Pierpont Morgan Library.] Roberts suggests the Turino Vanni painting had already been executed before the altarpiece's predellas of St Birgitta by Martino di Bartolemeo. She ends by saying the placement of these works in the public part of the convent's church in emphasizing the 'visions and miracles of Saint Birgitta, demonstrated to the laity the important role that religious women played in the lives of secular men and women'.)

[The complete article, the plates, the footnotes, of the essay was originally published in as 'Chiara Gambacorta as Patroness of the Arts', in Creative Women in Medieval and Early Modern Italy: A Religious and Artistic Renaissance, ed. E. Ann Matter and John Coakley (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), 120-154, ISBN 0-8122-3234-4 and is reproduced by permission. The Turino Vanni Nativity (currently in restoration) is especially fine, while all these depictions discussed above are clearly remembered portrayals of Birgitta, the first two predellas likewise recalling Birgitta's rooms in Rome in which she prayed and wrote.]




{ Buried amidst account books for the Paradiso Brigittine monastery which are now housed in the Florentine State Archives is a simple but important document, testifying to the internationalism of the Brigittine movement and the importance of St Birgitta of Sweden throughout Europe/1

Sepolto in mezzo ai libri contabili del monastero brigidino del Paradiso ora ospitata presso l'Archivio di Stato di Firenze, si trova un semplice ma importante documento che testimonia l'importanza di Santa Brigida di Svezia l'internazionalità del movimento brigidino.

The document in question was written at Vadstena in 1397; it gives the canonization bull concerning Saint Birgitta and the Saint Peter in Chains indulgence granted to Vadstena; its scribe is Johannes Johannis of Kalmar in Sweden who became a monk deacon in 1404, who was to travel to Reval in Estonia in 1407 to aid in establishing the monastery there of Mariendal, and to London in England in 1415-1416 to aid in establishing Syon Abbey, and then to Låland in Denmark in 1417 to assist in establishing Maribo./2

Esso fu scritto a Vadstena nel 1397 a riporta la bolla di canonizzazione riguardante Santa Brigida e l'indulgenza di San Pietro in Vincoli in favore di Vadstena. Lo scrivano è Johannes Johannis di Kalmar in Svezia che divenne monaco diacono nel 1404, fu a Reval in Estonia nel 1407 per contribuire alla fondazione del Locale monastero di Mariendal, indi a Londra in Inghilterra nel 1415.1416 per la fondazione di Syon, e infine a Laland in Danimarca nel 1417 per participare a quella di Maribo.

Around the time of this document's writing, in 1392-1397, monasteries were being started in Florence, the Paradiso, /3 and Gdansk, that of Marienbrunn, Eric Gudhmundi from Vadstena and Lucas Jacobi of Spain from Paradiso being dispatched to the later, 8 April 1397, and Henry IV of England, when he was Henry, Earl of Derby, having visited Gdansk, August 1390 and September 1392, when Marienbrunn was being founded. /4

All'epoca della stesura di questo documento, dal 1392 al 1397, furono fondati i monasteri del Paradiso a Firenze e quello di Marienbrun a Gdansk. L'8 aprile 1397, furono inviati a Marienbrunn Eric Gudhmundi da Vadstena and Lucas Jacobi di Spagna dal Paradiso; Enrico d'Inghilterra, quando era Enrico Duca di Derby, visitò Gdansk nell'agosto del 1390 ed anche nel settembre del 1392, nel periodo in cui veniva fondato il monastero di Marienbrunn.

Johannes Johannis Kalmarnesis is also the scribe of major Brigittine manuscripts of the Revelationes, writing these between 1410-1415, and further texts. /5 Johannes Johannis Kalmarnensis died in 1446, having been born in 1363. He was professed as monk and deacon of Vadstena Abbey in 1405./6 Thus the 1397 Paradiso document is the earliest reference to Johannes Johannis Kalmarnensis, placing him at Vadstena in a scribal, notarial capacity and already ordained as a priest. This is after the deaths of St Birgitta's son, Birger, and her daughter, St Catherine. He would then have been thirty-four, with forty-nine more years of intensive and important service to the Brigittines before his death at eighty-three.

Johannes Johannis Kalmarnensis è anche lo scrivano del maggiore dei manoscritti brigidini delle Revelationes tre il 1410 e il 1415. Era nato nel 1363 e morì nel 1446. Era diventato monaco professo e diacono del monastero di Vadstena nel 1405. Questo documento del Paradiso costuisce il più antico riferimento alla sua persona, collocandolo a Vadstena con funzioni i scrivano e di notaio e già ordinato sacerdote, dopo la morte però del figlio di S. Brigida, Birger, e di sua figlia S. Caterina. All'epoca della scrittura di questo documento doveva avere trentaquattro anni ed avrebbe prestato per altri quarantanove anni un intenso ed importante servizio alle Brigidine prima della sua morte ad ottantatre anni.

Clearly the document was written when the Paradiso Monastery in Florence, first proposed in 1392, was finally founded./7 It was likely acquired by that monastery in order to validate St Birgitta's canonization and the indulgences granted to her Order of Saint Saviour and to St Birgitta's monasteries./8 With its writer's associations with Sweden and England, Estonia and Poland, Italy and Denmark, it testifies to the internationalism of the Brigittine movement.

Chiaramente il documento fu scritto quando fu finalmente fondato il monastero del Paradiso a Firenze, che era stato proposto già nel 1392. Fu probabilmente acquisto dal monastero per avvallare la conizzazione di S. Brigida e le indulgenze concesse all'Ordine del Santo Salvatore ed ai monasteri brigidini. Considerati i collegamenti dello scrittore con Svezia e Inghilterra, Estonia e Polonia, Italia e Danimarca, esso testimonia l'internazionalità del movimento brigidino.

In the Brigittine story, trammelled about in legal, ecclesiastical, male documents, scattered all over Europe, come sudden flashes of pictures concerning women, women in childbirth, invalid nuns, the Virgin holding the Book, the saint herself who prays so often her knees become as hard as those of a camel. These are flesh and blood people enduring poverty and disease - and around them have grown beautiful written stories, embedded in the amber of a saint's canonization. /9

Nella storia delle brigidine, così come ci viene tramandata attraverso documenti legali ecclesiastici, non redatti da donne, sparsi per tutta l'Europa, si ritrovano descrizioni di queste scene immediate riguardanti donne, partorienti, suore ammalate, la Vergine che sorregge un libro, la Santa medesima con le ginoccha callose come quelle di un cammell per la continua preghiera. Ognuna di questa sembra vissuta da gente in carne ed ossa che sopporta disagi e povertà, intorno alle quali sono state scritte delle stories incastonate nell'ambra della canonizzazione di una santa.

This document, in which so many of these stories can be found and which has for so long been forgotten amidst account books, was previously copied out in December 1452, by Bertholdus Romanus, Confessor General of Paradiso, likely from this Vadstena/Paradiso document: 'Inveni, inquit, sed locum, ubi invenit, non exprimit, in antiquo libro' ['"I found it", he said, but the place where he found it, in an old book, he did not say']. An Altomünster monk, Jacobus Scheck, wrote that remark on finding the copy at Marien Boom, copying it out in turn there from whence it came into the pages of the Acta Sanctorum. /10 It was also published in the magnificent Lübeck: Ghotan, 1492 edition of St Birgitta's Life and Revelationes .

Questo documento, in cui possiamo ritrovare parecchie di queste storie, e che per lungo tempo è stato dimenticato tra i libri contabili, fu precendentemente copiato nel Dicembre 1452 da Bartoldo Romano, confessore generale del Paradiso, verosimilmente da questo stesso documento Vadstena/Paradiso. 'Inveni, inquiti, sed locum, ubi invenit, non exprimit, in antiquo libro' (l'ho trovato, dice, ma il luogo in cui lo ha trovato, un vecchio libro, non lo dice). Un monaco di Altomunster, Jacobus Schechk, scrisse quell'annotazione sul ritrovamento della copia al Marien Boom, la copiò a sua volta, e da lì passò nelle pagine degli Acta Santorum da cui ci è pervenuta. Fu anche pubblicate nella magnifica edizione della Vita e delle Rivelazioni di S. Brigida, stampata a Lubeck da Ghotan, nel 1492.

This essay transcribes the original and autograph versiom, which is written as a small pamphlet book on twelve folio pages, measuring 222 x 160 millimeters, its written surface, 132 x 110 millimeters, using brown ink on parchment with prickings, tied together with the original hemp cord, the parchment having the typical Vadstena suede-like finish, the text having three large initial capitals ornamented in Chancery style, several marginal notations, and concluding with Johannes Johannis Kalmarnensis' notarial sign. True to the scribes of his day he uses c rather than t, for example eciam rather than etiam , and e rather than ae, for example sepe rather than saepe .

Questo articolo trascrive la versione originale ed autografa, scritta in forma di libro di dodici pagine in folio, dimensioni 222 x 160 millimetri, con area di scrittura di 132 x 110 millimetri in inchiostro seppa su pergamena incisa, legate insieme con la cordella di canapa originale. La pergamena presenta la finitura tipicamente svedese di Vadstena, il testo ha tre grandi iniziali maiuscole ornate nello stile della cancelleria, molte note a margine, e termina con la firma notarile di Johannes Johannis Kalmarnensis. Secondo lo stile degli scrivani del tempo, egli tende ad usare le c al posto della t, per esempio eciam invece di etiam, e la e al posto della ae, per esempio sepe in luogo di saepe.


1 Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Monastero di Santa Brigida detto del Paradiso 79.
2 Revelationes S. Birgittae e Codice Membr. fol. 21 Bibl. Universitatis Lundensis ('Cod. Falkenberg'), ed. Elias Wessen (Hafniae: Einar Munksgaard, 1952(, p. XLV, citing Diarium Vadstenense, 29/3 1446; Liber Privilegiorum Monasterii Vadstenensi e Codice Archivi Reg. Holm A19 (olim A23) (Hafniae: Einar Munksgaard, 1950), P. XLI, XLII; British Library, Add. 22,285, Syon Martylogy , fol. 14v; Add. 24,062, fol. 150, being a letter of state concerning King Henry IV's desire to establish a Brigittine house at St Richard's Church, prior to that of Syon Abbey; Knut B. Westman, Birgitta-Studien (Uppsala: Akademiska Boktryckeriet, Edv. Berling, 1911), p. 267; John Rory Fletcher, The Story of the English Brigittines of Syon Abbey (South Brent, Devon: Syon Abbey, 1933), pp. 21-22; Edmund Colledge, ' Epistola solitarii ad reges : Alphonse of Pecha as Organizer of Birgittine and Urbanist Propaganda', Mediaeval Studies 18 (1956), p. 46; Monica Hedlund, 'Katillus Thorberni: A Syon Pioneer and His Books', Birgittiana 1 (1996), 67-87, esp. 74-75.
3 Giovanni Da Prato, Il Paradiso degli Alberti, 1389, ed. Alessandro Wesselofsky (Bologna: Romagnoli, 1867), Scelta di Curiosita Letterarie Inedite or Raro dal secolo XIII al XVII, 86, 4 vols, I.195-196, Boniface IX, 26 January 1392, conceding foundation of Paradiso.
4 Tore Nyberg, Klasztor Brygidek w Gdasku i jego najwczesniejsze kontakty z krajami Skanynawskimi na przelomie XIV i XV wieku. The Brigittine Abbey of Gdansk and its Earliest Contacts with Scandinavian Countires in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, Zapiski Historycnze 27 (1962), 530-77; also cited, M.B. Tait, 'The Brigittine Monastery of Syon (Middlesex) with Special Reference to its Monastic Usage', Phil Thesis, Oxford, 1975, p. 83.
5 Westman, p. 267, notes colophon, Lund University 21, fol. 314v: 'Finito libro sit laus et gloria Christo. Conscriptus per manus fratris Johannes Johannis Kalmarnensis. Orate pro eo'. Johannes Johannis manuscripts are Lund University 21, Codex Falkenberg, written before 1415, 360 folios, perhaps Lund University 20, Codex Berghmanianus, 165 folios, Stockholm, Codex Oxenstierna, Vitae Patrum section, fols. 164-235 (Birgitta had urged Vadstena brothers to use Vitae Patrum, Rev. Extrav. 23); Liber Privilegiorum , Arch. Reg. Holm. A19, fols. 20-63; ASF Monasterio di Santa Brigida detto del Paradiso 79. Edmund Colledge notes, p. 46, that Johannes Johannis spoke of the Revelationes as equivalent to the Bible.
6 Acta Sanctorum, October 4, Vol. 50, p. 376, making use of the Diarium Vadstenense .
7 Paradiso's Foundation was initially opposed by the Bishop of Florence who disapproved of double monasteries; but on 3 December 1397, the Brigittines won the right from the Florentine Republic to establish the Paradiso. It is possible that this document played a part in that political decision.
8 A good discussion of these indulgences occurs in British Library, Harleian 2321, giving a sermon on the Pardon of Syon, noting that it is that of Saint Peter in Chains and of St Francis' Portiuncula, continuing by discussing St Birgitta's pilgrimages to the Stations of Rome and Jerusalem, and noting the Pardon of Jerusalem likewise earned by it, fols. 17v-63.
9 André Vauchez, La Sainteté en Occident aux derniers siècles du Moyen Age; d'après les procés de canonisation et les documents hagiographiques (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, Palais Farnese, 1981).
10 ASS, Oct 4, 50.373.


The manuscript opens with the affirmation that three Swedish ecclesiasts, Henry, Archbishop of Uppsala, Bishops Canute of Linköping /Revelationes, ed. Wessen, p. XLV, notes Diarium Vadstenense , 29/5 1404: ' Ipso die Corporis Christi . . . ingressus est Dominus Johannes Johannis Calmarnensis, consecratus per Dominum Kanutem episcopum Lyncopensem, in statum dyaconorum './, and Thordo of Strängnäs, have read the papal documents copied her and vouch for their authenticity on the basis of their diplomatic apparatus, such as seals and silk cords of the appropriate colours. The 1391 act of canonization, issued in the name of Boniface XI, speaks of the diversity of wonderworking saints, such as martyrs, doctors, confessors, hermits, virgins and widows, who help restore the human race after the fall of the first parents. Such a saint is the holy widow Birgitta, popularly known as Brigida, whom the celestial farmer has cultivated in the farthest northern limit of his garden to be a new vine to the Church. Daughter of Birger and Sigrid, both of Swedish royal blood, her birth has been presaged by visions. Birgitta had not spoken until she was three but then did so in complete sentences. Under parental pressure she married Ulf, a prince of Närke, when she was thirteen, he, eighteen. they remained virgins for a year. Later, in one of her many childbirths, Birgitta nearly died but an imperious woman clothed in white silk entered the room and helped her to a safe delivery without further pain. The couple went on pilgrimage to Compostela, Ulf then entering a monastery and dying there in 1344. Birgitta when on pilgrimage, visiting holy relics in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Holy Land. She lived in Rome upon leaving Sweden. She undertook various ascetic practices, knotting hemp cords around her body /The pamphlet in which these words occur is itself tied together with a hemp cord at its gathering./, wearing patched clothing /Her patched cloak is still preserved as a relic, Aron Andersson and Anne Marie Franzen, Birgittareliker (Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1975), pp. 18-29, 57, figs. 17-30; likewise the remaining scraps of her handwriting in Swedish, on Sienese paper, are sewn together like patchwork and preserved, Kungl. Biblioteket, A65./, fasting more than the Church required, dropping hot wax from a burning candle on her hands and feet so that the scars would remain, keeping bitter gentian in her mouth, and kneeling so much that her knees became as hard as a camel's. She would visit the Roman Stations in all weathers and every season. She would stand unknown amongst the beggars, exchanging clothes with them. When her husband had been alive she had fed the hungry at their table, washed the feet of the poor every Friday, and founded and restored hospitals. She visited the sick, washing and binding their sores without disgust. She founded and richly endowed a monastery at Vadstena for sixty nuns and twenty-five monks. She accepted pastoral direction patiently, bore without murmur the deaths of her husband and Charles, her son. In her seventieth year, prompted by a vision, she summoned her family and died a tranquil death, commending her soul to God. Her fame spread immediately throughout the city and the world. Many miracles occurred through her intercession. Agnes de Comtessa was cured of a very large congenital throat tumour by touching Birgitta's hand at the funeral; an invalid nun of St Lawrence in Panisperna, Francesca de Sabellis, was cured after sleeping right by the grill of the convent church where the body lay in state/The iron grill still exists at St Lawrence in Panisperna, though the Poor Clare nuns have since left that convent./; Elsebi Snara, after giving birth in great sorrow to a dead child, vowed to journey to Birgitta's shrine and give a wax image if her child were to revive, the baby immediately becoming warm and breathing /For such votive offerings, see Ronald C. Finucane, Miracles and Pilgrims: Popular Beliefs in Medieval England (London: Book Club Associates, 1977), pp. 95-96/. Birgitta has given hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, sight to the blind, straightened curved backs and rescued shipwrecked sailors. /Much of this wording - but in Italian - is repeated in Lapo Mazzei 's Letter to Francesco Datini./ On the basis of testimony by many, including Queen Margaret of Sweden, the Pope declares Birgitta to be a saint and establishes her feast day on the day of her death, July 23. Two grants of indulgence by Pope Urban VI follow, the first giving the St Peter in Chains indulgence to the monastery at Vadstena, established by Birgitta's daughter, Catherine, the second to all monasteries founded by this Order of Saint Saviour and St Birgitta, whose official Rule is that of St Augustine. Finally, Johannes Johannis (Jön Jönsson), priest of the Diocese of Linköping, Imperial notary, confirms with his autograph colophon the authenticity of this transcription, Vadstena, 10 June 1397.

This same scribe writes out this same Bull in the Liber privilegiorum, pp. 108-118.

Il manoscritto esordisce affermando che tre ecclesiastici svedesi, Enrico, arcivescovo di Uppsala, il vescovo Canuto di Linköping, e Thordo di Strängnä s, hanno letto i documenti papali qui copiati e garantiscono la loro autenticità in base alla loro veste diplomatica, come ristula dai sigillu e dai cordini in seta del colore appropiato. L'atto di canonizzazine del 1391, emesso a nome di Bonifacio IX, parla della diversità dei Santi operatori dei miracoli, come martiri, dottori, confessori, eremiti, vergini e vedove, che sono d'aiuto per l'umanità dopo la caduta dei progenitori. Una di questi Santi è la santa vedova Birgitta, popolarmente nota come Brigida, che il celeste vignaiolo ha cultivato ai limiti del più lontano Nord del suo giardino per farne una vigna nuova per la Chiesa. Figlia di Birger e di Sigfrid, entrambi di sangue reale svedese, era stata presagita dalla sua nascita con visioni. Brigida non aveva parlato fino all'età di tre anni, dopo di che lo fece esprimendosi a frase intere completo. Sotto la pressine dei genitori ella sposò all'età di tredici anni Ulf, principe di Narke, allora diciottenne. Entrambi rimasero vergini per un anno. Più tardi, durante uno dei suoi numerosi parti, Brigida stava per morire, quando una donna dall'aspetto deciso, vestita di seta bianca, entrò nella stanza e l'aiutò a partorire senza ulteriori dolori. La coppia si recò in pellegrinaggio a Compostela, Ulf entrò quindi in convento dove morì nel 1344. Brigida intraprese un pellegrinaggio per visitare le sante reliquie in Germania, Francia, Spagna, Italia e Terra Santa. Dopo aver lasciato la Svezia visse a Roma. Si sottopose a varie forme di pratiche ascetiche: si stringeva il dorpo don dei lacci, indossava vesti rattoppate, faceva digiuni più stretti di quanto la Chiesa richiedesse, si faceva sulle mani e sui piedi delle cera bollente da una candela accesa in modo per lasciarle le ferite sempre aperte, teneva in bocca dell'amarissima genziana e rimaneva in ginocchio per così tanto tempo che le sue ginocchia erano dure come quelle di un cammello. Soleva visitare le stazione romane con ogni tempo ed in ogni stagione. Se ne stava in incognito tra i mendicanti, scambiando con loro le sue vesti. Quando il marito era ancora vivo, ammetteva i poveri alla sua mensa, lavava loro i piedi ogni venerdì e aveva fondato e restaurato vari ospedali. Visitava i malati, lavando e fasciando le loro piaghe senza alcun disgusto. Fondò e dotò largamente un monastero a Vadstena per sessanta suore e venticinque monaci. Accettò pazientemente la direzione pastorale e sopportò senza mormorare la morte di suo marito e di suo figlio Carlo. Arrivata a settant'anni, mossa da una visione, convocò tutta la famiglia e morì tranquilmente, raccomandando la sua anima a Dio. La sua fama si sparse rapidamente per tutta la città e per il mondo. Molti miracoli avvennero per mezzo della sua intercessione. Agnese de Contessa fu guarita da un grosso tumore congenito alla gola toccando la mano di Brigida al suo funerale; Francesca de Sabellis, una suora invalida de S. Lorenzo in Panispera, fu guarito soltanto per aver dormito vicino alla grata del convento in cui il corpo della Santa era stato esposto; Ellsebi Snara, dopo aver dato alla luce con grandi sofferenze un bimbo morto, fece voto di andare in pellegrinaggio al santuario di Brigida recano un'immagine de cera del bambino se questi avesse potuto revivere, ed immediatamente il piccino cominciò a riscaldarsi e a respirare. Brigida aveva restituito l'udito ai sordi, la parola ai muti, la vista ai ciechi, aveva raddrizzato schiene ricurve e salvato marinai dal naufragio. Sulla base di molte testimonianze, compresa quella della rigina Margherita di Svezia, il Papa dichiarò Brigida santa e stabili la sua festa il 23 luglio, giorno della sua morte. Seguirono due concessioni d'indulgenza da parte del Papa Urbano VI, la prima estendendo al monastero di Vadstena l'indulgenza di S. Pietro in Vincoli, concessa per mezzo della figlia di S. Brigida, Caterina; la seconda estendendola a tutti i monasteri fondati dall'Ordine del Santo Salvatore e di S. Brigida, la cui regola ufficiale è quella di S. Agostino. In ultimo, Johannes Johannis (Jön Jönsson), prete della diocesi di Linköping, notaio imperiale, conferma mediante firma autografa in calce l'autenticità di questa trascrizione. Vadstena, 10 giugno.


ASF Monastero di Santa Brigida detto del Paradiso 79

[On cover, folio 1] Canonizacio Sancte Brigide et indulgentie Sancti Petri ad Vincula et omnium Indulgenciarum ordinis Sancti augustini. CCVIIII /This number, 209, written in a different hand than is the rest of the document and appears to indicate a file number at a later date./ .

[Fol. 2] N/Ornamented chancery-style capital/overint universi quorum interest seu interesse poterit quemmodo libet in futurum. Nos henricum divina miseracione archiepiscopum upsalensem, Kanutum /who consecrated Johannes Johannis a Brigittine deacon, 1404/ , et Thordonem eadem gracia lincopensis, et strenginensis ecclesiarum episcopos, quasdam litteras apostolicas, utrique litteram canonizacionis Sancte byrgitte domini nostri, domini bonifacii Pape, noni cum vera bulla plumbea ipsius domini Pape, filoque canopeo more romane curie bullatam. Necnon bullas felicis recordacionis urbani Pape sexti Indulgenciarum ecclesie Sancti Petri ad vincula in roma. Ac eciam indulgenciarum et aliarum graciarum ordinis Sancti augustini heremitarum cum veris bullis plumbeis et cordis sericeis rubei croceique modo ut supra bullatas Monasterio Sanctarum marie virginis, et byrgitte in vazsteno concessarum, vidisse, tenuisse, et diligenter perlegisse, quarum tenor sequitur de verbo ad verbum in hac forma.

B onifacius episcopus servus servorum dei. Venerabilis fratribus, patriarchis, arhiepiscopis, et episcopis. ac dilectis filiis Electis et patriarchalium metropolitanarum, et cathedralium ecclesiarum capitulis ubilibet constitutis. Salutem et apostolicam benediccionem. Ab origine mundi post primi parentis lapsum cum eamobrem universum genus humanum eterne morti teneretur obnoxium. Cunctipotens et misericors deus ex alto prospiciens ne in totum perderet hominem quem crearat. Sed sue divinitatis faceret esse participem. Cum primos parentes et spiramine Sancti spiritus afflatos prophetas adventus filii sui in carnem sub typicis enigmatibus. ac divinis revelacionibus nuncios premisisset eundem unicum filium suum ante secula genitum adveniente plenitudine temporis in uterum preelecte virginis matris, que imperscrutabili Sanci spiritus obumbracione angelo nunciante concepit, de proprio sinu transmisit, qui ex eadem virgine natus et progressus in tempus cepit facere et docere, omnibusque monstrare qualiter sacri [fol 1v] baptismatis fonte renatis, de eterna morte via pateret ad vitam, ed coadunatis discipulis, ne quis fidelis huius transitorie et fugacis vite molestias vel tedia, seu temporalis acerbe necis penas pro eterne adepcionem vite perhorreret, sese hostiam immaculatam consumato debito cursu in ara crucis morte cruenta obtulit deo patri, et militantem ecclesiam fuso precioso sanguine fundavit, consecravit, et eternaliter stabilivit. Tandem vero de mundo transiturus ad patrem. Principi apostolorum Petro celesti clavigero in suam, suorumque successorum summorum pontificum personas collatis clavibus, ligandi videlicet et solvendi tondita potestate, supremum pontificium specialem curam sui gregis et regimen universale commisit. Pollicitus nichilominus ecclesiam in eternum se non deserturum eandem. Ad cuius uberem utilitatem divisiones graciarum per Spiritum sanctum tribuit suis fidelibus. Nam secundum apostolum unicuique datur manifestacio spiritus ad utilitatem, alii quidem per spiritum datur sermo sapientie alii sermo scientie seundum eundem spiritum, alii fides in eodem spiritu. Alii gracia santitatum in uno spiritu alii operacio virtutum, alii prophecia, alii discrecio spiritum, alii genera linguarum, alii interpretacio sermonum. Hec autem omnia operature unus atque idem spiritus singulis dividens prout vult. Quamque militantem eclesiam Pater luminum sustulit in eodeam Spiritu sancto structura mirabili preciosorum lapidum mira varietate decoram, ipso summo angulari lapide christo jhesu quos elegit ante mundi constitucionem conformes fieri hymaginis eiusdem filii, ut sit ipse primogenitus in multis fratribus, in quo eos gratificavit donans carismata meliora, qui suo exemplo via ostenderent, excellenciorem. Hinc igitur apostoli sancti prodiere per universum [fol. 2] orbem genus humanum quo sub peccati Iugo tenebatur ad vitam et salutem excitantes, et cum firmissima constancia predicantes verbum dei, ut in omnem terram exiret sonus eorum. Et in fines orbis terre verba eorum. Splendidi quoque martires fidei loricam induti, et inconcusse stabilitatis balteo succinti laverunt stolas suas in sanguine Innocentis agni et initiati candidato exercitu Christum Jhesum ad structuram superne Ierusalem, hoc est triumphantis ecclesie cum gloriosa victoria plamas gestantes in manibus sese vivos lapides addiderunt exemplum venerabilie et eternam dignamque memoriam militanti ecclesie relinquentes. Progressi sunt et doctores lucidissimi, qui pseudo christianis falsisque prophetis supersticiosas et vanas opiniones in vera fide catholica adducere ipsamque fidem subvertere satagentibus se opponentes, talium confutatis erroribus miro eloquio et solidis ac rectis sentensiis operante Sancto spiritu ipsam fidem et militantem ecclesiam illustrarunt, quibus eadem ecclesia communita progreditur quasi aurora consurgens pulcra ut luna, electa ut sol, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata. Sequuntur et limpidi confessores ornati gemmis, et virtutibus corruscantes domino rationem de talentis creditis reposcenti cum se assidua et vigili sanctarum operationum exercuerint mercatura utpote fidelies et boni servi multiplicitem de suis laboribus fructum afferunt et domini reponunt in archam. Eciam anachorite et solitudinis, ac heremi sectatores blandientis et capciosi sed venenosi mundi vana specatcula fugientes ut securir ad patriam pervenirent latibula pecierunt, at, antris abditi parvo et rudi victu scaturientis aque et levi potu carnem propriam macerantes, et sathane stimulos reprimentes paliastro vel tegmine hirto amicti, et ut plurimum nudis [fol. 2v] pedibus et squalida humo aut stramineo ucubili fessa membra sompno refoventes in sacra contemplacione et superne maiestatis laude vacantes demum ex hac lacrimarum valle et miseriarum acervo ad dei provincian evocati immarcessibilibus deliciis pociuntur Assunt et virgines nitide mundo corpore et corde sincero mentem sanctam spontaneam, et oleum secum suis deferentes in vasis venienti sponso obviam exeunt, eique deonsantur qui est pre filiis hominum speciosus. Devote autem et continentes vidue et alie sexus utriusque persone piis sanctisque operibus semper nitentes se ante dei tribunal cum plenis manipulis representant, et cum sanctis angelis canunt gloriam in altissimis deo et in terra pacem bone voluntatis hominibus deprecantur. Hec omnia profecto ille idem spiritus de quo supra operatur ministerio multiformiter admirando. Et secundum sanctam promissionem christ ihesus hanc vineam suam militantem ecclesiam post eius admirabilem ascensionem talibus cultoribus et cultricibus usque in diem hodiernum visitavit, fovit, defensavit, firmavit, Iuvit et auxit, et per sui graciam sic in futurum faciet temporibus successivis. Novissimis vero diebus ut eciam ab aquilone aliquid boni esset ille celestis agricola eandem vineam suo de more visitans mulierem fortem procul et de ultimis finisbus suum secum precium deferentem ad huiusmodi vinee culturam adduxit in esse beatam scilicet viduam Byrgittam, quam vulgare Brigidam appelant, tam sacro superius descripto cetui merito sociandam seu verius sociatam. Cuius propter quod presentem operam nobis damus, ut originem, vitam, mores, et merita, necnon miracula que in premium sanctitatis eius deus benedictus mundo monstrare dignatus est. Ne de tam celebri muliere etas presens remaneat ignara, et surda, [fol. 3] posteritas famam ingratam accusere vel protendere possit summotenus percurramus, de multis pauca ad modum eaque non pretereunda silencio excerpsimus. Vestreque caritati harum serie volumus intimari. Hec nemppe mulier gloriosa ex patre Byrgero, et matre sigrida [All early documents name her so, but 'Ingeborg' is the form modern scholars use. See ASS , Oct 4, 50.377-378; Magnus O. Celsius, Monasterium Sko in Uplandia (Stockholm: Wernerianis, 1728), p. 14] coniugibus de nobilissima regia stirpe catholicorum swecie regum procedentibus, nec minus fice ortodoxa et animi constancia ac virtutibus, quam nobilitate claris duxit originem. Quequidem mater dum eam gestaret in utero maris in quodam sinu, passa naufragium, cum multos promiscui sexus in eodeam naufragio procella absorbuisset, sana pervenit ad litus, et nocte sequenti in visione astitit sibi persona, admirando vestitu refulgens, et ne vidue tam benerande sine pronuncio foret adventus, dixit, salvata es propter bonum quod habes in utero, ideo nutri illud cum caritate dei que tibi a deo donatum est. Cumque puella Byrgitta de genitricis alvo in mundum recenter fuisset educata, sacerdos parrochialis in ecclesia propinqua approbate vite et etatis perfecte dum nocte oracioni vacaret, nubem lucidam et in medio nubis virginem sedentem vidit, librum habentem in manu , sibique dicentem, Nata es Bygero quedam filia cuius vox per mundum admirabilis audietur. Nata ergo puella usque ad finem Trienni quasi elinguis visa est. Sed mox contra naturalem decursum non babluciendo infancium more fari gestiensium que audierint, sed completa et formata verba de auditis per eam loquebatur, et visis. Procedens vero in annis [in margin, eius vita ] puericiam mira devociam transegit, oracionibus videlicet ac jeiuniis et alias nuymquam a bonis operibus ociosa. Tandam licet in statu virginali servire domino totis desideriis affectaret, tamen per parentes compulsa quondam Ulfoni de Ulfasoni principi Nericie nobilis [fol. 3v] simo quippe et christianissimo juveni in matrimonium desponsatur. Et cum insimul convenire deberent quaquam ydonei essent ad viriles amplexus, maritus videlicet in decimo octavo et spona in tercio decimo anno constituti, communi tamen voluntate, thobiam Iuniorem, et sarram raguelis imitati, annum continuum ut ubera a concubitu abstinuerunt deum humiliter deprecantes, ut si coniugi foret expediens in commistione non peccarent, et deus illis talem prolem concederet que ad servicium eius esset. Simul post ea convenerunt in rimore domini ac tremore, non libidini sed posteritati vacantes. Cum interim devota mulier, ne jejunia nec orationes nec alia pia et solita opera preteriret. Et cum semper beate virgini precipue devota foret, ac tempore precedente pene party perclitaretur, et obstetrices, ac mulieres astantes de vita illius desperarent, visa est quedam imperiosa sed icognita mulier albis syriceis induta vestibus intrare cubile, et assistere strato, et singula jacentis membra pertractare, mox cum talis mulier disparuisset, eadem puerpera sine dolora partu integro exonerata remansit. Et c um eciam dicti iugales adhuc essent iuvenes et recentes, maritus felicies uxoris sanctis monicionibus persuasus/ Cor enim viri spoliis non indigens confisum in ea reddidit ei bonum et non malum omnibus diebus vite sue, ispaque mulier indixerunt sibi sponte invicem et perpetuam continenciam servaverunt, et nichilominus coniuges devoci, in dei timore, et amore proximi semper fervenciores limina beati Jacobi apostoli in compostella, communi voto peregre visitarun. Et ad propria reversi cum deliberassent ut liberius devocioni vacare possent, pro sexus diversitate, diversa ingredi monasteria dictus princeps in tali deliberacione quievit in domino. Sancta autem [fol. 4] vidua que ab ineuntis etatis principio deo dedicata fuerat, jeiuniis et oracionibus indefesse vacarat soluto coniugo et sui iuris effecta, quasi navis insticoris de longe portans panem suum a spiritu sancto premonita, egrediens de terra et cognacione sua, ad almani urbem ac hiersolimam deinde perrexit, et loca singula in quibus redemptor noster ihesus christus annunciatus, natus, educatus, baptizatus, conversatus, mirabilia operatus, illusus, crucifixus, et sepultus fuit, et ad celos ascendit, insigni devocione et venerabunda conspexit. Ad urbem quoque regressa cum antea sive in sua patria et partibus circumstantibus, sive in germania, sive in galiis sive in hispania, sive in Italia, sive in aliis cismarinis aut ultramarinis partibus sanctorum ac sanctarum corpora, seu memorande relique quiescerent pauca admodum, absque personali visitacione dicte sancte vidue fuissent pretermissa, in eadem urbe reliqum vite peregit. Sed post mariti mortem, ob reverenciam sancta trinitatis ad nudam carnmem quandam cordam de canape cum plerisque nodis detulit stricte ligatam. Et similiter circa singulas tibias subtus genua, singulas cordas similiter connodatus, eciam tempore infirmitatis, nec pannis lineis preterquem in capite usa, vestes hispidas circa carnem, superius vero non secundam persone condicionem, sed multum humilies et abiectas. Et non solum eas quas sancta mater jubet ecclesia vigilias seu jeiunia observabat, sed alia multa superaddebat, ut eciam ultra ecclesie mandatum quater in ebdomada jeiunaret, et similiter quater in ebdomada coniuge nondum vita functo et post obitum eius continue usque ad paucos annos ante suum felicem transitum solitis pannis induta super tapeto absque paleis, culcitra vel similibus ad terram vel pavimentum posito, corpus aboracionibus, abstinenciis, ad di [fol. 4v] vino labore fessum tenui et brevi sompno recreabat. Singulis sextis feriis ob memoriam sacratissime passionis domini nostri ihesu christi, pane dumtaxat et aqua contenta jeiunium non omisit cum eciam multos alios dies ob diversorum sanctorum reverenciam simili abstinencia pertransiret. Et sive jeiunio abstineret, sive aliter discumberet cum sobriissima foret de mensa surgebat non saturata, sed refota. Eisdem quoque sextis feriis de candelis cereis accensis stillas candentes et ignitas eliquabat super nudam carnem, ita ut aduste cicatrices continue remanerent, et gencianam amarissimam herbam seu radicem eius retinebat in ore. Roma insuper degens, non rigorem frigorum, non estivos calores, non impediemtna vie lutose, non pluviarum aut nivium seu grandinum asperitates curans, staciones per ecclesiam ordinatas variasque alias sanctas ecclesias licet eques pro suis facultatibus ire potuisset, tamen supra extenuati corporis vires enitens, peditans visitabat quacumque die. Tot tamque longis genuflexionibus usa fuit ut genua eius vigerent in duriciem ut ita dixerimus camelorum. Admirabilis et spectate humilitatis extitit, ita ut nonnunqaum cum pauperibus peregrinis incognita simul sedens apud monasterium Sancti laurencii in panisperna de urbe ordinis Sancte clare elemosinam reciperet, et oscularetur cum graciarum actionem. Et frequenter propriis manibus, et ob dei reverenciam reparabat pauperum vestimenta. Tenacem obedienciam prelatis et suis superioribus et confessoribus observabat, adeo que absque saltem confessoris licencia pene oculos attollere non presumeret. Et superstite marito cum singulis sextis feriis confessa fuisset, post eius transitum veram confessionem semel saltem in die cum [fol. 5] magna contricione studuit iterare, tam amare levia sicut alii gravissima deplorans, et nichil de suis verbis, moribus, cogitacionibus et actibus preteriens indiscussum. Verbi dei predicacionibus quas viri probati facerent, assidua aderat et intenta. Singulis quoque diebus dominicis et solemnibus cum devocione et lacrimis sumpsit venerabile christi corporis sacramentum. Considerans semitas domus sue, ne panes comederet ociosa, manus suas apperuit inopibus, et palmas suas extendit ad pauperes, inexhauste enim caritatis officia erga egentes, infirmas, et abiectas personas ob dei reverenciam exercuit indefesse. Nam dum eciam adhuc maritus superesset die qualibet duodecim pauperes consuevit propria in domo cibare illis inserviens et necessaria ministrans. Et quintis feriis memor cene domini propris manibus lavit pedes eorum. De propria quoque facultate reparavit in partibus sue originis multa hospitalia desolata, et pauperes et infirmos ibi degentes pia, benigna, misericors et sedula ministratrix cum summa pietate visitavit, ulcera eorum absque horrore vel fastidio actretavit, lavit, circumligavit et fovit. In loco eciam de vazsteno lincopensis diocesis de suis facultatibus unum venerabile monasterium canonice construi fecit, pro sexaginta monialibus sub clausura viventibus, et vigintiquinque fratribus ordinis Sancti augustini Sancti salvatoris nuncupati, qui tam moniales quam fratres certas constituciones per ipsam beatam viduam editas, et post ea per sedem apostolicam approbatas observare tenentur, sufficienti dote nichilominus assignata. Admirabilis paciencia viguit in ea ut infirmitates propri corporis, iniurias illatas mariti, et caroli filii mortem et adversa reliqua toleravit pacienissime sine murmure, sine querela, sempter in cunctis [fol. 5v] cum humilitate summissa dominum benedicens, in fide semper constanciorum prestanciorum spe vera caritate arednciorum justiciam summe dilexit et equitatem. Stimulos carnis et vanas illecebras, pravitatem et arroganciam, pompam et inanem gloriam magnanimi curiositate contempsit. De singulari continencia et modestia sua satis est superius recitatum. Sed quis inveniretur illa prudentior cum optima discrecione ab etate primeva usque ad horam ultimam quantum sinebat humana fragilitas cuncta secernens non dixit bonum malum, neque malum bonum, nec posuit lucem tenebras nec tenebrar ispam lucem. Quibusquidem graciam sancti spirito promeruit, multis eorum cogitaciones et affectiones intimas et gesta secretissima propalare, et visiones ac revelaciones varias divere et audire ac spiritu prophetico multa predicere quorum nonnulla effectu completa fuere, prout hec et alia in eius revelacionum volumine plenissime describuntur. Quinta vero precendente die prenunciavit sue vite finem adesse. Et cum fuisset annum septuagesimum supergressa, adveniente. Iam termino prenunciato vocata familia, qua fieri oporteret edixit. Ac demum Byrgero filio et catherina filia tunc supersticibus accersitis, et de multis connonitis ut super omnia in dei timore, et amore proximi, ac sanctis perserverarent operibus ultima confessione debite facta, sumpto viatico, et extrema unctione delibuta, cum usque ad flatus emissionem sua memoria integra perdurasset dum missa coram ea celebraretur post adoratum corpus christi, oculis elevatis ad celum dicens In manus tuas domine commendo spiritum meum vocanti benemeritam animam reddidit creatori. Extimplo de transsitu huius vidue venerande magna fit fama per urbem, concurrit frequens popu [fol. 6] lus cum summa devocione ac reverencia sacrum videre coprus deum unanimiter glorificans et collaudans. Ad monasterium santi laurencii supradictum ubi se indicarat, funus in longe maiori populi frequencia defertur, et premunia multitudine usque ad biduum apte non potuit sepeliri, quod tamen cum eximia dei laude fuit humatum. Dum autem celebris hec vidua Neapoli degeret Nolanensis quedam mulier picciolella nomine que vilentum mali spiritius in humanam se himaginem transformantis paciebatur accubitum, cui nec forcium vigilie aut excubie obsistere potuerant, ad viduam sanctam accessit, eam super tali materia et expedienti remedio consultura. Mox vidua precellens et secreta mulieris pervidens quesivit a muliere an secum aliquid arte magica compilatum, vel quid tale defferet, cum illa respondisset que non, egregia vidua subiecit, quere in capillis seu tricis tuis et contrarium invenies. Confusa et recordata mulier que certum breve cum caracteribus et cantimine propris habebat in crinibus suum fuit errorem sponte fassa. In signis autem vidua iniunxit et suasit illi ut devote confitereter et veraciter peniteret, et communicaret ac eciam jeiunaret. Quod et fecit. Ac meritis et precibus memorate vidua numquam similem accubitum passa fuit. Cum autem spectabilis hec vidua de longa peregrinacione ad ortonam Theatum diocesis terram in quam beatissimi Thome apostoli reliquarum pars magna servatur vice secunda supervenisset fuerat enim antea longe per visionem sibi revelatum, que secunda vice fui adventus ad ipsam terram devotum eius desiderium impleretur, et dum sanctas reliquas devocione solita visitaret, idem apostolus devote vidue apparens dixit dabo tibi diu desideratum, et mox neimine tangente [fol. 6v] vel alias impellente de capsa reliquarum quoddam frustulum unius ossis dicti apostoli supate vidue expectantis prosilit ad manus, quod illa cum gaudio ac devocione recipiens summa veneracione servavit. Fuit quoque hec admirabilis vidua dum oracioni et contemplacioni vacaret per plerasque devotas personas elevata a terra per hominis mensuram vel circiter cum splendida et radiante facie sepe visa. Funus nondum erat traditum sepulture [margin, Mirac' ] cum mulier quedam agnes de contessa nomine in urbe commorans que a nativitate guttur habebat grossissimum ac deforme cum aliis venerandum concurrit ad funus, et cum propria zona manus sancte jacentis byrgitte cum devocione tangi fecisset zonam eandem simili devocione circumduxit ad collum et paulo post guttur detumuit, et ad conformitatem debitam divino [margin, aliud de sabell' ] miraculo fuit redactum. Verum francisca de sabellis dicti monasterii sancti laurencii monialis, que biennio debilitatem et adversam stomachi valitudinem passa, fere semper lecto ducubuerate infirma, et honorande vidue familiaris fuerat dum adhuc insepultum corpus intra claustrum servaretur cum gravi labore de lecto surrexit, tam longam infirmitatem paciens, et adiuta pervenit ad ferretrum et secus illud jacuit tota nocte, nec deum desiit cum devocione et instancia deprecari que meritis et precibus Vidue cuius corpus aderat, tam molesta, tamque diutina valitudine in tantum saltem alleviaretur, que cum reliquis monialibus divinis officiis interesse, et per claustrum cum expediret adiuta per neminem, ire posset, et mane facto repperit se circa proprii sanitatem corporis efficacius remedium quam deprecata fu [fol. 7] erat impetrasse. Verum ut deus benedictus huius dilecte vidue mundo magna merita demonstraret, contigit ut elssebi snara mulier dicte lincopensis diocesis cum infantulum mortuum [margin, mortuum suscitasi ] peperisset summo dolore plena, ac tandem ad se reversa deum prece humili exoraret, que meritis vidue tantopere celebrande, infantulus vitam susciperet, et emisso voto quod cum infantulo si ad vitam veniret, et himagine cerea sepulcrum vidue sante visitaret, extimplo infantulus calescere et palpitare cepit, vitamque plene suscipit. Mulier vero plena devocione atque gaudio votum implevit emissum. Sed quid pluribus immoramur cum deus omnipotens huius alme vidue meritis, surdis aures apperuerit, mutis lingue officium solverit, tremulis paraliticis soliditatem prebuerit, curvis erectionem, contractis et invalidis liberorum beneficium gradiendi, cecis visum, mulierbius partu periclitantibus liberacionem, morbis alias incurabilis sanitatem. Naufragos et aquis vehementibus laborantes perduxerit salutis ad portum. Et si ea que deus benedictus vidue sepedicte meritis tam illa superstite quam post eius resoluciones felicem mirabilia preca et supra vires nature fuit operatus, nec desinit operari, vellemus per singula recensere. Nos aliis diversis implicos longa valde in tali recitacione prolixitas detineret, possunt tamen fideles avidi talia gesta pernoscere, librorum in quo fideliter annotantur perquirere curiose. Vota autem apud monasterium in vazsteno supradictum, ad quod venerabile corpus huius benedicte vidue translatum fuit, persoluta, et apposite himagines ac statue magnum testimonium perhibent veritati. Et quoniam per sancti spiritus operacionem hec vidua pervigil per excellencia merita in die patris gloria collocata, militantem prope modum illustrat ecclesiam. [fol. 7v] Nostque gustamus et videmus quia bona fuit et est negociacio eius, et propterea in nocte supernientis temporalis mortis eius virtutem et meritorum lucerna non debet extingui, est enim non sub modio sed super candelabrum postia, et per diem universam domum inextinguibile lumen affert quin pocius filii sancte matris ecclesie surgant et beatissimam predicent eique dent de fructu manuum suarum, laudentque eam in portis interioris ecclesie opera eius. Nos qui pro iniuncto ministerii pastoralis officio sumus sapientibus et insipientibus debitores, per ea que tam de felicis recordacionis Gregorii xi, et urbani vi Romanorum pontificum predecessorum nostrorum quam nostro mandato super hiis habita sunt de veritate premissorum per testes ydoneos et alias probaciones legitimas cercius informati eisque veris compertis et pro parte Carissime in christo filie nostre margarete regine swecie illustris ac prelatorum et procerum regni sui necnon dilectorum filiorum populi et officialium alme urbis, ac dilectarum in christo filiarum sancti laurencii et de Vazsteno monasteriorum predictorum abbatissarum, et conventuum sepius et cum instancia requisiti, in nomine domini ut jam tandem viduam eius celeberriman beneicentres benedicamus, et super eam effloreat sanctificacio nostra ad honorem dei omnipotentis patris et filii et spiritus sancti, et ad exaltacionem ortodoxe fidei, et christiane religionis augmentum necnon ad sedacionem scismatus ac fidei et ecclesie unionem, auctoritate ipsius dei omnipotentis patris et filii et spiritus sancti, ac beatorum apostolorum petry supradicti et pauli, atque nostra de fratrum nostrorum consilio et assensu omniumque prelatorum in romana curia consistencium, decernimus, declaramus, diffi [fol. 8] numus sive pronunciamus bone memorie beatam Byrgictam [margin, canonicati oni s ] alias brigidam supra sepis nominatam sanctam esse, et tamquam sanctam ab universali ecclesia venerari, ac sanctorum cathalogo ascribi debere, et ipsam nuns ascribimus de presenti. Statuentes ut universali ecclesia anno quolibet in die qua illam post devicum triumphatumque mundum in perpetuas eternitates presens vita partuiir, videlicet x kalendas augusti festum ipsius et officium sicut pro una sancta non virgine, nec martire devote et solemniter celebratur. Et ut ad venerabile sepulcrum ipsius ardencius et affluencius christi fidelium confluat multitudo et eiusdem sancte celebrius colatur festivitas, et eius nomen crebrius recolatur, auctoritate predicta, omnibus vere penitentibus et confessis qui sepulcrum eius huiusmodi apud ipsum monasterium in vasteno in eiusdem festi, necnon v kalendas juinii, quo videlicet die huiusmodi corpus venerandum apud ipsum monasterium translatum fuit, et sub ad presens occurrenti diebus devote visitaverint annuatim singulis videlicet eorundem dierum diebus quibus dictum sepulcrum visitaverint ut prefertur septem annos et totidem quadragenas de iniunctis eis penitenciis misericorditer relaxamus. Quocirca universitatem vestram monemus, requirimus, et hortamur attente, vobis nichilominus in virtute sancta obediencie et ad eternorum premiorum augmentum districtius, iniungentes quatinus presentes litteras nostras, Cleris et Populis vestris auctoritate nostra solemniter publicantes, festum huiusmodi venerabilis sancte cum solemnitate debita celebretis, et faciatis eciam celebrari, omnipotentem deum a quo sancta desideria, recta consilia, et iusta sunt opera, totis cordis affectibus [fol. 8v] humiliter deprecantes, ut eiusdem sancte precibus ut meritis exoratus det servis suis illam quam mundus dare non potest pacem, ut et corda nostra mandatis suis dedita, et hostium sublata formidine tempora sua protectionem tranquilla, nobisque concedat ut post peractum nostrem villicacionis ministerium nuacum credito nobis grege mereamur ad sempiterna gaudia pervenire. Datum rome apud sanctum petrum Nonis octobrum pontificatus nostri Anno Secondo.

U rbanus episcopus servus servorum dei. Ad perpetuam rei memoriam. Dum precelsa meritorum insignia quibus regina celorum virgo dei genitris gloriosa sedibus prelata sidereis quasi stella matutina prerutilat devota consideracionis indagine perscrutamur dum eciam in pectoris archano revoluimus que ipsa utpote mater misericordie et gracie pietatis amica, humani generis consolatrix pro salute fidelium qui delictorum onere pregravantur sedula exoratrix et pervigil ad regem quem genuit intercedit, dignum quin pocius debitum arbitramur ut oratoria ad honorem sui nominis dedicata graciosis remissionum prosequamur impendis, et indulgenciarum muneribus honoremus. Cupientes itaque ut ecclesia monasterii monialium in casto Watsstene lincopensis diocesis quod per dilectam in christo filiam nobilem mulierem Catherina quondam Ulfonis de Ulfasono militis natam dicte diocesis et quondam Brygidam eius matrem ad honorem et sub vocabulo eiusdem beate marie de bonis suis de novo fundatum, et copiose dotatum dicitur, et in qua quidem ecclesia corpus dicte Brigide requiescit, et in qua omnipotens deus presertim in festo sancti Petri ad vincula, in quo ad ispam ecclesiam [fol. 9] numerosa multitudo fidelium regni suecie, et aliarum nacionum causa devocionis peregre annuatim ut asseritur confuit, multa signa ostendit et miracula operatur congruis honoribus frequentetur, et ut christi fideles devocionis causa eo libencius ad ipsam ecclesiam confluant quo ex hoc ibidem uberius dono celestie gracie conspexerint se refectos, de omnipotentis die misericordia et beatorum petri et pauli apostolorum eius auctoritate confisi omnibus vere Penitentibus et confessis qui in dicto festo prefaam ecclesiam devote visitaverint annuatim omnes et singulas indulgencias et remissiones peccatorum ac relxaciones iniunctarum penitenciarum quas quicumque Romani pontifices predecessores nostri, ecclesiam Sancti petri ad vincula de urbe in eodem festo annuatim visitantibus indulserunt sive indulgencie remissiones et [marg, ad vincula ] relaxaciones huiusmodi quas haberi volumus presentibus pro expressis in perpetuum sive ad certum tempus concesse fuerint modo et forma et ad tempus quibus per eosdem pontifices concesse existunt auctoritate apostolica misericorditer concedimus per presentes. Nulli ergo omnino hominum liceat hanc paginam nostre concessionis infringere vel ei ausu temerario contrarie. Siquis autem hoc attemptare presumpserit indignacionem omnipotentis dei et beatorum petri et pauli apostolorum eius se noverit incursurum. Datum Tibure iii kalendas augusti Pontificatus nostri Anno Primo.

U rbanus episcopus servus servorum dei. Ad perpetuam rei memoriam. Dum precelsa meritorum insignia quibus regina celorum virgo dei genitrix gloriosa sedibus prelata sidereis quasi stella matutina prerutilat, devota consideracionis [fol. 9v] indagine perscrutamur, dum eciam in pectoris archano revoluimus que ipsa utpote mater misericordie et gracie, pietatis amica, humani generis consolatrix pro salute fidelium qui delictorum onere pregravantur sedula exoratrix et pervigil ad regem quem genuit intercedit, dignum quin pocius debitum arbitramur, ut oratoria ad honorem sui nominis dedicata graciosis remissionum prosequamur impendis, et indulgenciarum muneribus honoremus. Cupientes itaque ut ecclesia monasteri monialium de castro wastene ordinis Sancti augustini lincopensis diocesis quod per dilectam in christo filiam nobilem mulierem Catharinam quondam Ulfonis de Ulfassoni militis natam dicte diocesis et per quondam Brigidam eius matrem ad honorem et sub vocabulo eiusdem beat marie de bonis suis denovo fundatum et copiose dotatum dicitur et in quaquidem ecclesia corpus dicte Brigide requiscit, et in qua omnipotens deus multa signa ostendit et miracula operatur, congruis honoribus frequentetur et ut christi fiedeles eo libencius huius modi devocionis cause confluant ad eandem ecclesiam quo ex hoc ibidem dono celestis gracie uberius conspexerint se refectos, de omnipotentis dei misericordia et beatorum Petri et pauli apostolorum eius auctoritate confisi omnes et singulas indulgencias et remissiones peccatorum ac relaxaciones iniunctarum penitenciarum quas tam felicis recordacionis Alexander Papa iiii quam alii predecessores nostri Romani pontifices personis visitantibus quascumque ecclesias locorum dicti ordinis hactenus indulserunt seu concesserunt, sive volumus presentibus pro expressis in perpetuum, sive ad certum tempus concesse fuerint modo et forma et ad tempus quibus per eosdem pontifices concesse existunt, dummodo de iure non fuerint revocate auctoritate apostolica ad vere penitentes et confessos qui prefatam ecclesiam devote visitaverint extendimus, et eis misericorditer concedimus per presentes. Nulli ergo omnio hominum liceat hand paginam nostre extensionis et concessionis infringere, vel ei ausu temerario contrarie. si quis autem hod attemptare presumpserit, indignacionem omnipotentis dei et beatorum Petri et pauli apostolorum eius se noverit incursurum. Datum tibure iii kalendas augusti pontificatus nostri Anno Primo. Nos igitur quas prefatas litteras apostolicas sicut premittitur diligenter inspeximus et perlegimus easque non cancellatas, non rasas, non abolitas, nec in aliquibus suis partibus viciatas, sed cum bullis et signis ut superius diximus more Romane curie bullatas et munitas esse invenimus. Ideo presens ex ipsis apostolicis litteris transcriptum de verbo ad verbum nostrorum sigillorum munimine una cum sigillo prefati monasterii duximus roborandum. Scriptum in monasterio sanctarum marie virginis et byrgitte wazstena, Anno domini M o ccc oxco septimo decima die mensis Junuii . . .

[Fol. 10v]

E t ego Johannes Johannis presbiter lincopensis dyocesis publicus auctoritate Imperiali notarius Quia predictarum litterarum apostolicarum seu bullarum transscripcionem omnibusque aliis permissis dum sit ut praesuntiturfierent, et agerentur, una cum pronotarius testibus primus interfui Rogatus pro priorem et fratres Conventuales monasterii predict requisitus Eaque fit fieri, vidi et audivi ideoque presens transscriptum me aliis arduis occupatis negociis pro alium fideliter scriptis exinde confeci, et in hanc publicam formam redegi quam, Signo Manu et nomine meis solitis propris et consuetis una cum Reveredorum prefatorum dominorum Episcoporum Sigillorum quibus, dicuntur, appensionem subscribendo signavi. In testimonium omnium singulorum et premissorum.




{ The Merchant of Prato, Messer Francesco Datini, kept every scrap of paper. Today they are Prato's Archives, still kept in his merchant palace in the city's centre. Among them are letters written by his great friend, Ser Lapo Mazzei , the lawyer for the hospital, Santa Maria Nuova, in Florence, a hospital founded by Beatrice Portinari's father. Dante Alighieri had allegorized his love for the rich banker's daughter, into that for the celestial Beatrice of the Commedia.

In one of these letters, Ser Lapo Mazzei, discusses St Birgitta of Sweden at great length and with the greatest enthusiasm.

He explains that he writes this letter at hand, which I have seen, in the third hour of the night, in his study in Florence, 13 November 1395, to tell his colleague about the Paradiso monastery , for which Antonio Alberti has given all his property as its endowment, and about other such monasteries being founded throughout the length and breadth of Europe. He calls the saint, 'Santa Brisida', especially stressing her prophecies and her other writings in the Revelationes, speaking of her as 'quello ambassadore che Christo ci manda'.

He adds that she can particularly comfort Datini's wife as she also had been married and even had had a large family.

He continues in great detail about her writings concerning her Order and her stipulations concerning its monks and nuns, as a New Vine for Christ, all of which statements were dictated to her by an Angel or Christ or the Virgin, then edited by a bishop.

That bishop, whom Lapo Mazzei says he has met, would be Alfonso of Jaen, Birgitta's confessor, who was likewise confessor to St Catherine of Siena , following Birgitta's death. The letter mentions, too, the Pisan nun, Clara Gambacorta , from a family with far-flung Mediterranean connections, to whom Alfonso de Jaen had given the vita of St Birgitta.


Archivio di Stato (Palazzo Datini, via ser Lapo Mazzei, 41, Prato), 1096. Letters from Lapo Mazzei to Francesco Datini, Letter XCII.

Cesare Guasti. Lettere di un Notaro e un Mercante del Secolo XIV. Florence: Le Monnier, 1880. I. 118-193.

Iris Origo. The Merchant of Prato: Francesco di Marco Datini. London: Jonathan Cape, 1957. P. 217. Republished by Penguin.




St Birgitta gives her Revelations to Christendom
Revelationes, Ghotan: Lübeck, 1492

{ Margery Kempe visited Julian of Norwich perhaps before 1413 and later reported their conversations, thus providing for us not only the early written texts we now have, the Amherst, Westminster , Paris Texts, but also an Oral Text, spoken just prior to the time that the 1413 exemplar to the Amherst Text was being written. Margery's Manuscript thus allows us to go back to fifteenth-century East Anglia with, as it were, a tape-recorder. Both the Amherst and the Butler-Bowden Manuscripts, of Julian's Showings and Margery's Book, are in the British Library. This essay transcribes directly from the manuscript text in the hard copy form of the booklet; on the Internet, however, modernising the letters for thorn, yoch and the long-tailed median s. The foliation of the manuscripts is cited, preceded by A for Amherst (the Julian Showings Manuscript in the British Library, Additional 37,790), W for Westminster (the Julian Showings Manuscript owned by Westminster Cathedral and on loan to Westminster Abbey), P for Paris (the Julian Showings Manuscript in the Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Anglais 40), and M for The Book of Margery Kempe (the Butler Bowden Manuscript, now British Library, Additional 61,823). Letters and words rubricated here are so in the manuscripts. The hard copy booklet presents the original texts in larger type, modern explanatory material in smaller type.

Margery has her scribes tell us (M, folio 21)

Julian's 1413/1450 Short Text concludes with an essay on the 'Discerning of Spirits'. Indeed, if Julian of Norwich had been counseled by Cardinal Adam Easton of Norwich Cathedral Priory, who knew Bishop Hermit Alfonso of Jaén and his Epistola Solitarii, and who had together with him defended Birgitta of Sweden 's canonisation , the Norwich anchoress certainly would have been 'expert' in the discerning of such spiritual matters and such revelatory showings, about which both the Cardinal and the Hermit Bishop had written. This was a matter, at this time when the pros and cons were being debated concerning women's visionary writings, of the greatest topical concern.

Margery and Julian's conversation continues,

Again, we hear in this counsel the precepts written by Adam Easton and by Alfonso of Jaén (and by the Cloud Author in his various Epistles), concerning the discerning of spirits in connection with the validation of the visionary writings of Birgitta of Sweden, whose 1391 Canonisation was to be confirmed at the 1419 Council of Constance despite the 1415 objections of Jean Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, contained in his work, De probatione spirituum . That material had already been given in William Flete's Remedies Against Temptations . And William Flete had left England after writing that work to become the Augustine Hermit at Leccetto associated with St Catherine of Siena . In the passage we also hear Julian's own beloved phrase, 'euyne cristen', and we can clearly recognise the echoes to the concluding section concerning the 'Discernment of Spirits', in the Julian corpus unique to the Amherst Short Text (A114v-115), and which may perhaps be her last words: Julian continues in her conversation with Margery, and is now reported in direct speech: That image of the storm-tossed sea reflects that in the Cloud Author 's A Pistle of Discretion of Stirings (EETS 231:64.7-23).

Julian next cites her authorities, Paul and Jerome , to Margery, who perhaps misremembers one of them:

The only possible corresponding passage in Jerome's writings occurs in the heavily philosophical and theological Epistula 84, Ad Pammachium et Oceanum, 'Iungamus gemitus, lacrimas copulemus, ploremus et conuertamur ad dominum, qui fecit nos; non expectemus diaboli paenitentiam. Vana est illa praesumptio et in profundum gehennae trahens; hic au quaritur uita aut amittitur './1 Perhaps Margery here misremembers and Julian was rather speaking of Augustine's account of Monica's tears, Confessions 3.12, recalled also by Birgitta's vision in the Holy Sepulchre concerning the fate of her son, Charles. /2

Julian next discusses evil :

There is a parallel in Julian/Margery's wording here to the commentaries upon the Psalms Qui habitat and Bonum est, attributed to Walter Hilton and both present in the Westminster Cathedral Julian Manuscript. Has Julian intended not ' city' but ' seat' in W101v, P116 and 144-145, A112, or has Margery misheard the word? But perhaps Julian deliberately plays upon the likeness of the two words. She may be using the concept expressed throughout Luke 14 where guests need to exercise humility to enter the Kingdom of God, a kingdom that is within us.

Apart from the Hilton and Julian texts in the Westminster Manuscript making this same point are other texts associated with Julian: Norwich Castle Manuscript , fol. 78v:. . . iusti sedes est sapiencie . ffor as seith holy write the soule of the ry3tful man or womman is the see & dwelling of endeles wisdom that is goddis sone swete ihe If we been besy & doon our deuer to fulfille the wil of god & his pleasaunce thanne loue we hym wit al our my3te; likewise John Whiterig , Contemplating the Crucifixion; from Anima iusti sedes est sapiencie: Proverbs 10.25b; cited, Gregory , Hom. XXXVIII in Evang. PL 76, 1282.

With that last comment, ' & so I trust, syster, that ye ben ', we realise that we certainly are listening to reported speech and that Dame Julian addressed Dame Margery, her 'evyn cristen', even as 'Sister'. The discussion of evil reminds one more of William Flete's Remedies Against Temptations than it does of Julian's 'sin as nought'. Interestingly, this phrasing concerning the soul as a city is closer to that of the Sixteenth Showing in the 1393/1580 Paris Manuscript (P143v-145v) and the 1413/1450s Amherst Manuscript (A112), which both give vestiges of the Lord and the Servant Parable, than it is to the earlier version, the Fourteenth Showing, present in the Westminster (W101-102v) and Paris (P116-119) Manuscripts.

This can be compared to the 1368/1500s Westminster Manuscript 's more subtle account concerning Julian's vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, the City of God, within one's own soul (W101-102v): The Paris Manuscript gives first the Westminster Manuscript version as part of the Fourteenth Showing, greatly expanding it, while noting that it is to be spoken of again later in the Sixteenth Showing (P116-119). In that Sixteenth Showing it is given just as in the Amherst Manuscript, where it appears to be in the form of Julian's consolatory sermon for those who would have felt lost and bewildered by the subtlety of the earlier, far more precocious account (P144-145). W101v-102v and P116-119 are now excised from the text. But elements of it can be traced elsewhere in Julian's words to Margery, especially where they all speak of 'communynge & da=liance therwith' (W101-101v), 'comenyng and dalyance ther with' (P118v.5-6), (though in Amherst these words, 'daliaunce'. 'commones', sadly occur only in connection with the evil spirit and the soul, A114v.31-115.1), and Margery's use of these same words for her soul talk with Julian: ' the holy dalyawns that the ankres & this creature haddyn be comownyng in the lofe of owyr lord Jhesu crist'.

Of interest, too, is that the Amherst Manuscript contains not only Julian's Showings but also Jan Van Ruusbroec' s Sparkling Stone, translated into Middle English. Both Julian's Sixteenth Showing (P146) and the Sparkling Stone make use of Revelation 2.17. The Amherst Manuscript (A118), gives the text from Ruusbroec's Sparkling Stone discussing the Apocalypse of St John as the 'Book of the Secrets of God' addressed ' To him that overcometh', in which 'the spirit says in the Apocalyps vincenti says he schalle gyffe hym a lytil white stone and in it a newe name the whiche no man knowes but he that takys it'. This is material Julian well could have shared with Margery.

Julian continues:

Margery then ends her account by saying: John Milton and George Eliot have spoken of books as souls and cities as souls. Julian and Margery inscribe within the pages of their books their souls and their cities, black-clad Julian in her anchorhold in Norwich inscribing within that small space all the cosmos and its creator while Margery in her white pilgrim robes trudges to Jerusalem and back. NOTES

1 CETEDOC CLCLT, Université de Louvain, compact disk.
2 Saint Bride and Her Book: Birgitta of Sweden's Revelations, trans. Julia Bolton Holloway, pp. 113-119.


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