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Though a familiar name, little was known about the English mystic Margery Kempe (c. 1373-c. 1440) for hundreds of years except that she had an association with the great Julian of Norwich. This all changed in 1934 with the discovery of The Book of Margery Kempe in a library where it had lain hidden for four hundred years. Finding Margery's own story was important not just because of the light it shed on her life, but it also turned out to be the first known autobiography in the English language. Even more intriguing to the experts of the day, this unique document was written by a woman. But if anyone had expected to find her anything like her cloistered contemporary, Julian, they were in for something of a surprise. Far from being a typical holy woman, Margery Kempe was married and mother of fourteen children. Moreover, she had been a woman of substance, even running a large brewery for a time. After turning to religion, she traveled thousands of miles around the known world on pilgrimages to distant lands. Beyond the circumstances of her life, what's most compelling about the text is the inner Margery that emerges. Her account of spiritual awakening, far from being a blissful episode is instead full of conflict and recrimination. What good was this new way of life if it caused her such trouble? Was this really the only way to lead a holy life? Margery remained unsure of the answers. But her patience in her struggle is a wonder to behold, and an example for us today.
The autobiography of one of the most popular saints in history, now available in a new translation.Beyond being recognized as the patron saint of Ireland (perhaps for having chased some nonexistent snakes off the Emerald Isle), little else is popularly known about Saint Patrick. And yet, Patrick left behind a unique document, his Confession, which tells us much about both his life and his beliefs. This autobiography, originally written in the fifth century, and short by modern standards, is nonetheless a work that fascinates with its glimpse into the life of an intriguing man, and inspires with its testament of faith. Here, in this new edition from internationally acclaimed translator John Skinner, the character of Patrick, his era, and his world vividly come to life. Also included in this volume is the only other document known to have been written by Patrick, a letter he wrote to the soldiers of Coroticus--also Christians--who had raided parts of Ireland and taken away prisoners who were then sold into slavery. This letter is a wonderful demonstration of Patrick's rhetorical fire. Quite irate, Patrick harangues his fellow Christians, and the results are every bit as autobiographically revealing as the Confession. John O'Donohue, author of Anam Cara, provides an insightful foreword that re-creates the unique spirituality of Patrick and of the Irish people, and shows how it applies to our lives today.From the Paperback edition.
A collection of monastic readings are drawn from a full range of writings from the early and contemporary monastics of various orders and from differing denominations, and includes background information on each author.