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Eckenstein, Lina, d. 1931 / Woman under monasticism: chapters on saint-lore and convent life between A.D. 500 and A.D. 1500 (1896)


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The Convent of Helfta and its Literary Nuns.[1*]

The mystic writings with which the present chapter has hitherto dealt are works written for nuns, not by them, for of all the English mystic writings of the 13th century, womanly though they often are in tone, none can claim to be the production of a woman. It is different on the Continent, where the mystic literature of the 13th century is largely the production of nuns, some of whom have secured wide literary fame. 'Their writings, which were looked upon by their contemporaries as divinely inspired, are among the most impassioned books of the age. They claim the attention both of the student of art and the student of literature. For strong natures who rebelled against the conditions of ordinary life, but were shut out from the arena of intellectual competition, found an outlet for their aspirations in intensified emotionalism, and this emotionalism led to the development of a wealth of varying imagery which subsequently became the subject-matter of pictorial art. In course of time the series of images offered and suggested by Scripture had been supplemented by a thousand floating fancies and a mass of legendary conceits, which were often based on heathen conceptions; and the 13th century mystic first tried to fix and interpret these in their spiritual application. His endeavours may appear to some a dwelling on fruitless fancies, but since this imagery in its later representations, especially in painting, has become a thing of so much wonder and delight, the writers who first tried to realise and describe these conceptions deserve at least respectful attention.

The convent of Helfta near Eisleben in Saxony stands out during the 13th century as a centre of these mystic tendencies and of contemporary culture, owing to the literary activity of its nuns. All the qualities which make early mysticism attractive,-- moral elevation, impassioned fervour, intense realism and an almost boundless imagination,--are here found reflected in the   [p. 329]   writings of three women, who were inmates of the same convent, and worked and wrote contemporaneously.

The convent to which these women belonged was of the Benedictine order. It had been founded in 1229 by Burkhardt, Count von Mansfeld, and his wife Elisabeth, for the use of their two daughters and for other women who wished to join them in a religious life. So many of the daughters of the Thuringian nobility flocked thither that the convent was removed in 1234 to more spacious accommodation at Rodardesdorf, and again in 1258 to a pleasanter and more suitable site at Helfta.

The convent was then under the abbess Gertrud[2*] of the noble family of hackeborn, whose rule (1251--1291) marks a climax in the prosperity and influence of the house. The convent numbered over a hundred nuns, and among them were women distinguished in other ways besides writing. In the annals of the house mention is made of Elisabeth and Sophie, daughters of Hermann von Mansfeld;--the former was a good painter, and the latter transcribed numerous books and held the office of prioress for many years before she succeeded Gertrud as abbess. Reference is also made to the nun Mechthild von Wippra († c. 1300), who taught singing, an art zealously cultivated by these nuns.

This enthusiasm for studies of all kinds was inspired in the first place by the abbess Gertrud, of whose wonderful liberality of mind and zeal for the advance of knowledge we read in an account written soon after her death by members of her convent.[3*] She was endlessly zealous in collecting books and in setting her nuns to transcribe them. 'This too she insisted on,' says the account, 'that the girls should be instructed in the liberal arts, for she said that if the pursuit of knowledge (studium scientiac) were to perish, they would no longer be able to understand holy writ, and religion together with devotion would disappear.' Latin was well taught and written with ease by various members of the convent. The three women writers who have given the house lasting fame were Mechthild,--who was not educated at the convent but came there about the year 1268, and who is usually spoken of as the beguine or sister Mechthild,--the nun and saint Mechthild von Hackeborn, the sister of the abbess Gertrud, who was educated in the convent and there had visions between 1280 and 1300,-- and Gertrud--known in literature as Gertrud the Great. Her   [p. 330]   name being the same as that of the abbess caused at one time a confusion between them.

The writings of these nuns were composed under the influence of the same mystic movement which was spreading over many districts of Europe, and therefore they contain ideas and descriptions which, forming part of the imaginative wealth of the age, are nearly related to what is contemporaneously found elsewhere. In numerous particulars the writings of these nuns bear a striking resemblance to the imagery and descriptions introduced into the Divine Comedy by Dante. Struck by this likeness, and bent upon connecting Matelda of the Purgatorio with a real person, several modern students have recognised her prototype in one of the writers named Mechthild.[4*]

The writings of both these women are anterior in date to the composition of the Divine Comedy, and as they were accepted by the Dominicans, certainly had a chance of being carried into distant districts. But there is no proof that Dante had either of these writers in his mind when he wrote in the Purgatorio of Matelda as appearing in an earthly paradise to the poet on the other side of the river Lethe.

'A lady all alone, she went along
Singing and culling flower after flower,
With which the pathway was all studded o'er.
"Ah, beauteous lady, who in rays of love
Dost warm thyself, if I may trust to looks,
Which the heart's witnesses are wont to be,
May the desire come unto thee to draw
Near to this river's bank," I said to her,
"So much that I may hear what thou art singing.

It is she who makes the triumph of the Church apparent to the poet while Beatrice descends to him from heaven.

Without entering into this controversy, it is interesting to note the similarity of the visions in which Mechthild von Hackeborn describes heaven, and those which Mechthild of Magdeburg draws of hell, to the descriptions of the greatest of Italian poets.

In order to gain an idea of the interests which were prominent at the convent at Helfta it will be well to treat of the lives, history   [p. 331]   and writings of its three women writers in succession,--the beguine Mechthild,--the nun Mechthild,--and the nun Gertrud. Their characters and compositions bear marked points of difference.

Mechthild the beguine[5*] was born about 1212 and lived in contact with the world, perhaps at some court, till the age of twenty-three, when she left her people and came to Magdeburg to adopt the religious life. She was led to take this step by a troubled conscience, which was no doubt occasioned by her coming into contact with Dominican friars. At this time they were making a great stir in Saxony, and Mechthild's brother Balduin joined their order. Mechthild lived at Magdeburg for many years in a poor and humble way in a settlement of beguines, but at last she was obliged to seek protection in a nunnery, because she had drawn upon herself the hatred of the clergy.

The origin and position of the bands of women called beguines[6*] deserve attention, for the provisions made for them are evidently the outcome of a charitable wish to provide for homeless women, and to prevent their vagrancy and moral degradation. The name given to these women lies in great obscurity. It is sometimes connected with a priest of Liège (Lüttich) Lambert le Bègue (the stammerer, † 1172), a reformer in his way whose work recalls that of the founders of orders of combined canons and nuns, and who was very popular among women of all classes and advocated their association. Many settlements of beguines were founded in the towns of Flanders and Brabant, some of which have survived to this day; and in German towns also the plan was readily adopted of setting aside a house in the town, for the use of poor women who, being thus provided with a roof over their heads, were then left to support themselves as best they could, by begging, or by sick nursing, or by the work of their hands. These women were not bound by any vow to remain in the house where they dwelt, and were not tied down to any special routine. This freedom led to different results among them. In some instances they were attracted by mysticism; in others they advocated ideas which drew on them the reproach of heresy and gave rise to Papal decrees condemning them; in others again they drifted into ways which were little to their credit and caused them to be classed with loose women.

  [p. 332]  

In one of the houses allotted to these women in Magdeburg Mechthild spent the years between 1235 and 1268, and during that time, under the encouragement of the Dominican friars, she wrote prayers, meditations, reflections on the times, and short accounts of spiritual visions, some in prose, some in verse, which had a wide circulation. The fact of their being written in German at a time when writings of the kind in German were few, was the cause of their being read in lay as well as in religious circles. These writings were afterwards collected, presumably in the order of their composition, by a Dominican friar who issued them under the title of 'The Flowing Light of Divinity.' Six of the seven books into which the work is divided were composed before Mechthud went to Helfta, and the visions and reflections she wrote after her admission were grouped together in the seventh book. These writings were originally issued in the German of the north, but the only German copy now extant is a south German transcript, which was written for the mystics of Switzerland. The work was translated into Latin during Mechthild's lifetime by a Dominican friar, but his collection only contains the first six books, the contents of which are arranged in a different order. Both the German and the Latin versions have recently been reprinted.[7*]

Among these writings were several severely critical and condemnatory of the clergy of Magdeburg, who resented these attacks and persecuted Mechthild. On this account she sought admission at Helfta, which was not far distant from Halle, where her special friend the Dominican friar Heinrich was living.[8*] The nuns at Helfta were on friendly terms with the Dominicans, who frequently visited them,[9*] and it appears that the nun Gertrud the Great knew of the writings of the beguine and advocated her admission to the nunnery. She came there in 1268 and lived there for about twelve years; passages in the writings of her fellow nuns refer to her death and burial.[10*]

With regard to her writings we are struck by their diversified contents, by their variety in form, and by their many-sided sympathies. The 'Flowing Light of Divinity' (Fliessende Licht der   [p. 333]   Gottheit), consists of a collection of shorter and longer compositions, some in poetry, some in prose, which may be roughly classed as spiritual poems and love-songs, allegories, visions, and moral reflections or aphorisms. Against mysticism the charge has been brought that it led to no activity in theological thought and did not produce any religious reformation, but surely enquiries into the nature of the soul and its relation to God such as these are full of speculative interest, and have played no small part in paving the way towards a more rational interpretation of the position of man with regard to faith, to merit, to retribution and to the other great questions of dogma.

Turning first to the poems which treat of spiritual love, many are in dialogue, a form much used by the Minnesingers of the eager but rarely by its religious poets. Among them is a dialogue[11*] between the Soul and the queen Love, who sits enthroned. The Soul accuses Love (spiritual love of course) of robbing her of a liking for the goods of this world, but Love justifies herself by saying that she has given to the Soul instead all that constitutes her true happiness. In another dialogue[12*] the Soul exclaims in wonder at Love, who in eloquent strains describes the power that is within her. By this power she drove Christ from heaven to earth; is it then to be wondered at that she can capture and hold fast a soul.

One of the longer pieces,[13*] less complete in form but more complex in ideas, describes how a call comes to the Soul, and how she urges her servants the Senses to help her to adorn herself to go forth to the dance, that her craving for joy may be satisfied. The Soul justifies her desire in strains such as these:

'The fish in the water do not drown, the birds in the air are not lost,
The gold in the furnace does not vanish but there attains its glow.
God has given to every creature to live according to its desire,
Why then should I resist mine?'

The Soul then describes the various experiences which led to her union with Christ, which she expresses in passionate strains suggestive of the Song of Solomon.

  [p. 334]  

Again, we have the Soul[14*] complaining to Love of the ties which bind her to the body, and Love directs her how to overcome them. Understanding too discourses with the Soul,[15*] and the Soul admits the greater capacities of Understanding, but she insists that Understanding owes to her the capacity both of contemplation and spiritual enjoyment. In other poems like points of abstract interest are touched upon. One of the most curious of these productions is a dialogue in which Understanding converses with Conscience[16*] and expresses surprise at Conscience, whose attitude is one of proud humility. Conscience explains that her pride comes through her contact with God, and that her humility is due to her contrition at having done so few good works.

The question of how far good works are necessary to salvation, in other words justification by faith versus justification by works, is a thought prominent in the beguine's mind, and gives the keynote to a curious and interesting allegory on admission to the communion of the saints.[17*] A poor girl longing to hear mass felt herself transported into the church of heaven, where at first she could see no one. Presently youths entered strewing flowers,-- white flowers beneath the church tower, violets along the nave, roses before the Virgin's altar, and lilies throughout the choir. Others came and lighted candles, and then John the Baptist entered bearing the lamb, which he set on the altar and prepared to read mass. John the Evangelist came next, St Peter and so many more of heaven's inmates that the poor girl felt there was no room left for her in the nave of the church. She went and stood beneath the tower among people who wore crowns, 'but the beauty of hair, which comes from good works, they had not. How had they come into heaven? Through repentance and good intention.' There were others with them so richly clad that the girl felt ashamed of her appearance and went into the choir, where she saw the Virgin, St Catherine, holy Cecilia, bishops, martyrs and angels. But suddenly she too was decked with a splendid cloak, and the Virgin beckoned to her to stand by her side. Prompted by the Virgin she then took part in the religious service and was led to the altar, where John the Baptist let her kiss the wounds of the lamb. 'She   [p. 335]   to whom this happened is dead,' says the writer, 'but we hope to find her again among the choir of angels.'

This allegory was severely censured, and in a later chapter[18*] Mechthild says that a 'Pharisee' argued that it was forbidden for a layman, like John the Baptist, to hold mass. Mechthild's arguments in reply to the charge are somewhat involved, but she boldly declares that John, who was in close communion with God, was better fitted in some respects to say mass than Pope, bishop or priest.

With Mechthild, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and St Peter, patron saint of the Dominicans, stand foremost among the saints of heaven. There is a beautiful account[19*] of a Soul who found herself in company with God and the saints, who each in turn explained how they had helped to bring her there.

Glimpses of heaven and hell are frequent in these writings, and a full description of hell[20*] and one of paradise[21*] deserve special attention from the point of view of medieval imagery. Hell is here characterised as the seat of Eternal Hatred, which is built in the deepest depths from stones of manifold wickedness. Pride, as shown in Lucifer, forms the foundation-stone; then come the stones of disobedience, covetousness, hatred and lewdness, brought thither through acts of Adam. Cain brought anger, ferocity, and warfare, and Judas brought lying, betrayal, despair and suicide. The building formed by these stones is so arranged that each part of it is occupied by those who were specially prone to the various sins. In its depths sits Lucifer, above him Christians, Jews and heathens, according to the kind of crime committed by each. The horrors of their sufferings recall those pictured by Herrad, and at a later period by Dante and Orcagna. The usurer is gnawed, the thief hangs suspended by his feet, murderers continually receive wounds, and gluttons swallow red-hot stones and drink sulphur and pitch. 'What seemed sweetness here is there turned into bitterness. The sluggard is loaded with grief, the wrathful are struck with fiery thongs. The poor musician, who had gleefully fed wicked vanity, weeps more tears in hell than there is water in the sea. Many horrible and impressive scenes, such as the medieval mind loved to dwell upon, are depicted.

The picture drawn of paradise is correspondingly fair. Ac-   [p. 336]   cording to the beguine there is an earthly and a heavenly paradise. Regarding the earthly paradise she says: 'There is no limit to its length and breadth. First I reached a spot lying on the confines of this world and paradise. There I saw trees and leaves and grass, but of weeds there were none. Some trees bore fruit, but most of them sweet-scented leaves. Rapid streams cut through the earth, and warm winds blew from the south. In the waters mingled earth's sweetness and heaven's delight. The air was sweet beyond expression. But of birds and animals there were none, for God has reserved this garden for human beings to dwell there undisturbed.' In this garden Mechthild finds Enoch and Elias who explain what keeps them there. Then she sees the higher regions of paradise in which dwell the souls who are waiting to enter the kingdom of God, 'floating in joy as the air floats in the sunshine,' says Mechthild; and she goes on to explain how on the Day of Judgment paradise will altogether cease to exist and its inhabitants will be absorbed into heaven.

The beguine's writings contain various references to herself and her compositions, and considerable praise of the Dominican friars. In one place[22*] she describes how she was told that her writings deserved to be burnt, but she turned in prayer to God as was her wont from childhood, and He told her not to doubt her powers for they came through Him. 'Ah Lord,' she exclaimed in reply, 'were I a learned man, a priest, in whom thou hadst made manifest this power, thou would'st see him honoured, but how can they believe that on such unworthy ground thou hast raised a golden house? Lord, I fail to see the reason of it.' But the attacks against her roused her to anger, and she closes the poem with a stern invective against those who are false.

Another passage contains an autobiographical sketch of Mechthild's early experiences.[23*] She says that when she was twelve years old she felt drawn to things divine, and from that time to the present, a period of thirty-one years, she had been conscious of God's grace and had been saved from going astray. 'God is witness,' she continues, 'that I never consciously prayed to be told what is written in this book; it never occurred to me that such things could come to anyone. While I spent my youth with friends and relations to whom I was most dear, I had no knowledge of such things. Yet I always wished to be humble, and   [p. 337]   from love of God I came to a place (Magdeburg) where with one exception I had no friends.' She describes how at that time two angels and two devils were her companions, and were to her the representatives of the good and evil tendencies of which she was conscious. The devils spoke to her of her physical beauty, promised fame 'such as has led astray many an unbeliever,' and prompted her to rebellion and unchastity. Obviously her passionate nature rose against the mode of life she had adopted, but the thought of Christ's sufferings at last brought her comfort. She was much perturbed by her power of writing. 'Why not give it to learned folk?' she asked of God, but God was angered with her, and her father-confessor pressed upon her that writing was her vocation. In another impassioned account she describes how she was oppressed by a devil.[24*]

In the third book of her writings Mechthild says[25*] that God pointed out to her the seven virtues which priests ought to cultivate, and we gather from this that she did not consider the clergy devout or pure-minded. In further passages[26*] she dilates on the duties of prelate, prior and prioress, and severely attacks the conduct of a deacon of Magdeburg. Even more explicit in its severity to the priesthood is an account[27*] of how God spoke to her, and told her that He would touch the Pope's heart and make him utter a prayer, which is given, and in which the Pope declaims against the conduct of his clergy who are 'straightway going to hell.' In the Latin translation God's admonition is amplified by the following passages: 'For thus says the Lord: I will open the ear of the highest priest and touch his heart with the woe of my wrath, because my shepherds of Jerusalem have become robbers and wolves before my very eyes. With cruelty they murder my lambs and devour them. The sheep also are worn and weary because you call them from healthy pastures, in your godlessness do not suffer them to graze on the heights on green herbs, and with threats and reproof prevent their being tended with healthful teaching and healthful advice by those men who are supported by faith and knowledge. He who knows not the way that leads to hell and would know it, let him look at the life and   [p. 338]   morals of the base and degenerate clergy, who, given to luxury and other sins, through their impious ways are inevitably going the way to hell.'[28*]

The friars, it is said, must come to the rescue and reform the world, and Mechthild being especially inclined to the Dominicans dwells on their usefulness to true faith in a number of passages.[29*] There is a long description of how God saw that His Son, with the apostles, martyrs, confessors and virgins, was unable to lead back the people who had gone astray, and therefore He sent into the world two other children, that is the two orders of friars, to save them. In another vision.[30*] God explains to Mechthild the special purpose for which He has lately sent five new saints into the world, one of whom is Elisabeth of Thüringen 'whom I sent,' said the Lord, 'to those wretched ladies who sit in castles with much unchastity, puffed up with conceit, and so absorbed by vanities that they ought to be cast into the nether regions. Many a lady however has now followed her example in what measure she would or could.' The other saints are Dominic, who has been sent to reclaim unbelievers,--Francis, who has come as a warning to covetous priests and conceited laymen,-- a new St Peter, the Martyr († 1252),--and the sister Jutta von Sangershausen. History tells us of Peter that he was appointed inquisitor against the heretics in Lombardy and murdered at their instigation;[31*] and of Jutta that, having lost her husband in 1260, she placed her children in convents and went among the heathen Prussians where she tended the leprous till her death four years afterwards.[32*] From later passages in the writings of Mechthild, written after she had come to live at Helfta,[33*] it appears that she felt that faith was not increasing in the world; perhaps she was disappointed in her exalted anticipations of the influence of the friars.

The writings of Mechthild of this later period are more mystic and visionary than those of earlier days. She is distressed at the troublous times that have come to Saxony and Thuringen,   [p. 339]   and tells[34*] how she fell ill and was so perturbed that she lost the power of prayer for seventeen days. Many prayers and visions, some of great sweetness and beauty, were the production of these later days. A long allegory called the 'Spiritual Convent or Ghostly Abbey'[35*] shows the high opinion she had of life in a nunnery. In this poem the inmates of the convent are personified as the Virtues, an idea occasionally used during the Middle Ages, and one which at a later date in England, as we shall hear afterwards,[36*] was handled in a very different manner, the convent inmates being represented as the Vices. In Mechthild's convent Charity is abbess, Meekness is chaplain, Peace is prioress, Kindliness is sub-prioress, and among the inmates of the convent there is Hope the singing-mistress, and Wisdom the schoolmistress 'who with good counsel carefully instructs the ignorant, so that the nunnery is held holy and honoured.' Bounty is cellaress, Mercy sees to the clothes, Pity tends the sick, and Dread sits at the gate. The provost or priest is Obedience, 'to whom all these Virtues are subject. Thus does the convent abide before God,' the poem ends, '...happy are they who dwell there.'

The writings of Mechthild offer many more points of interest. Not the least curious among her compositions are the amplified descriptions of Biblical history, as of the Creation, the Nativity, and the early experiences of the Virgin,[37*] which enter minutely into the feelings and emotions of those immediately concerned and give them an allegorical and spiritualised application. Short spiritual poems are also numerous, but so much depends on their form that a translation cannot convey their chief beauty. Their general drift is exemplified by the two following.[38*]

'It is a wondrous journeying onwards, this progress of the Soul, who guides the Senses as the man who sees leads him who is blind. Fearlessly the Soul wanders on without grief of heart, for she desires nought but what the Lord wills who leads all to the best.'

And again, [39*] 'My Soul spake to her Spouse: Lord, thy ten   [p. 340]   derness is to my body delightful ministration; thy compassion is to my spiritual nature wondrous comfort; and thy love is to my whole being rest eternal.'

Thoughts such as these are found scattered up and down in the beguine's writings, and give one a high estimation of her poetic power, her ready imagination and her mastery of language. Her vigorous nature guided into the channel of spiritual aspirations frequently filled her poems with a passionate eloquence.

In conclusion may stand a few of the beguine's moral reflections, which, if they are not borrowed from elsewhere, argue well for her power of condensing thoughts into short sentences; but here also it is not easy to find the exact words in which to render the chief points of these reflections.[40*]

'Vanity does not stop to think what she is losing;
Perseverance is laden with virtues.
Stupidity is ever self-sufficient;
The wisest never comes to the end of what he would say.
Anger brings darkness unto the soul;
Gentleness is ever sure of attaining grace.
Pride would ever raise herself aloft;
Lowliness is ever ready to yield...
Sluggishness will never gain wealth;
The industrious seeks more than his immediate advantage.'

And the following,--which are the product of a later period and have in them the ring of a deeper experience--' [41*] None knows how firm he stands, until he has experienced the prompting of desire; none how strong he is, until hatred has attacked him; none how good he is, before he -has attained a happy end.'

From the writings of the beguine Mechthild we pass to those of her companion at Helfta, the nun Mechthild von Hackeborn. Her 'Book of Special Grace'[42*] consists entirely of visions or revelations described by her and put into writing by her fellow-nuns; it was widely read, and gave rise to similar productions in other nunneries. There are many early manuscript copies of the book in existence; it was originally written in Latin, but has been translated into German, English, Italian and French, and has repeatedly been printed.

  [p. 341]  

The visions are so arranged that those contained in the first part of the book have reference to festal days of the Church, to Christ, Mary and the saints. The second part treats of the manifestations of divine grace of which Mechthild was conscious in herself, and the third and fourth describe how God should be praised and what is conducive to salvation or 'soul-hele.' In the fifth part Mechthild holds converse with those who have departed this life, chiefly members of the convent, for the belief that it was possible to hold communion with the souls of the departed was readily accepted at Helfta as in other religious houses.

A sixth and seventh part were added to Mechthild's book after her death by her fellow-nuns and contain information about her sister, the abbess Gertrud, and details about Mechthild's death and the visions other nuns had of her.

The nun Mechthild von Hackeborn, who was nine years younger than her sister Gertrud, had come to the house as a child on a visit with her mother, and was so much attracted to it that she remained there. She is described by her fellow-nuns as a person of tender and delicate refinement, whose religious fervour was remarkable, and these characteristics are reflected in her writings. She was often suffering, noticeably at the time when her sister, the abbess Gertrud, died (1291). She is praised for her lovely voice, and references to music and singing in her visions are frequent. It is not quite clear when her fellow-nuns began to put her visions into writing, presumably between 1280 and 1300, and authorities also differ on the year of her death, which the Benedictines of Solesmes accept as 1298,[43*] whereas Preger defers it till 1310.[44*]

In the description of her visions Mechthild von Hackeborn appears throughout as a person of even temper and great sweetness of disposition, one who was not visited by picturesque temptations, troubles and doubts, and who therefore insisted chiefly on the beautiful side of things; for hell with its torments and the whole mise-en-scène of the nether regions have no meaning and no attraction for her. In her revelations Christ, the Virgin, and other members of the vast hierarchy of heaven enter as living realities. She is particularly fond of the angels, whom she loves to picture as the associates of men on earth and in heaven. In conformity with the conceptions of her age Christ is to her the wooer of the soul,   [p. 342]   the chosen bridegroom, who combines all that makes humanity attractive and divinity sublime. Christ and the Virgin love to confer with Mechthild, or rather with her Soul,--the terms are used indiscriminately,--and enter into converse with her whenever she seeks enlightenment. Flowers and precious stones, the splendour of vestments, and occasionally some homely object, supply her with similes and comparisons.

The following descriptions occurring in visions will give some idea of the spirit in which Mechthild wrote.[45*] Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 2 ('Liber Specialis Gratiae, bk I, ch. 30, De angelis), p. 102.

'After the feast of St Michael.. .she saw a golden ascent divided into nine grades, crowded by a multitude of angels, and the first grade was presided over by angels, the second by archangels and so on upwards, each order of angels presiding over one grade. She was divinely informed that this ascent represented the abode of men in this way,--that whoever faithfully, humbly, and devotedly fulfils his duty to the Church of God, and for God's sake, to the infirm, to the poor and to travellers, abides in the first grade, consorting with the angels. Again, they who by prayer and devotion are closer to God and in nearness to Him, are devoted to knowledge of Him, to His teaching and help, are in the next grade and are the companions of the archangels. Those again who practise patience, obedience, voluntary poverty, humility, and bravely perform all virtues, mount to the next grade with the Virtues. And those who, opposing vice and greed, hold the fiend and all his suggestions in contempt, in the fourth grade share the triumph of glory with the Powers. Prelates who fully respond to the duties the Church has entrusted to them, who watch day and night over the salvation of souls and discreetly give back twofold the talent entrusted to them,--these in the fifth grade hold the glory of heaven as a recompense of their work with the Pre-eminences. Again, those who with complete submission bow before the majesty of the Divine, and who out of love for Him love the Creator in the created, and love themselves because they are fashioned after the image of God, who conform to Him as far as human weakness permits, and, holding the flesh subservient to the spirit, triumph over their mind by transferring it to things celestial, these glory in the sixth grade with the Rulers. But those who are steadfast in meditation and contemplation, who embracing pureness of heart and peace of mind make of themselves a temple meet for God, which   [p. 343]   truly may be called a paradise, according to Proverbs (viii. 31 ) "my delights were with the sons of men," and about which it is said (2 Cor. vi. 16) "I will dwell in them and walk in them," these dwell in the seventh grade with the Enthroned. Those who outstrip others in knowledge and apprehension, who by a singular blessedness hold God in their minds as it were face to face and give back what they have drawn from the fountain of all wisdom, by teaching and explaining to others, these abide in the eighth grade of the ascent together with the Cherubim. And those who love God with heart and soul, who place their whole being in the eternal fire which is God itself, love Him not with their own but with divine love being the chosen ones of God, who see all creatures in God and love them for His sake, friends as well as enemies, those whom nothing can divide from God nor stay in their ascent--for the more their enemies attack them the more they grow in love,--those who, fervent themselves, awake fervour in others, so that if they could they would make all mankind perfect in love, who weep for the sins and faults of others, because, indifferent to their own glory, they seek but the glory of God, these shall for evermore dwell in the ninth grade with the Seraphim, between whom and God there is nought in closer nearness to Him.

'During mass she (Mechthild) saw that a large number of angels were present, and each angel in guise of a lovely youth stood by the side of the maiden entrusted to his care. Some held flowering sceptres, others golden flowers. And as the maidens bowed they pressed the flowers to their lips in sign of everlasting peace. Thus angels assisted at the entire mass.

'And as the maidens advanced to partake of the communion, each of the angels led her who was entrusted to his care. And the King of Glory stood in the place of the priest surrounded by shining splendour, on His breast an ornament in the shape of a branched tree, and from His heart, in which lies hidden the wealth of wisdom and knowledge, flowed a stream which encompassed those who advanced with a flood of heavenly joy.'

In the preceding passages we see Mechthild in the state of rapture called forth by the moments of celebration and service; the extracts which follow describe one of the divine visitations which came to her as a special manifestation of grace'.

  [p. 344]  

'On a certain Sunday, while they were singing the Asperges me, Domine, she said "Lord, in what wilt thou now bathe and cleanse my heart ?" Straightway the Lord with love unutterable bending to her as a mother would to her son, embraced her saying: "In the love of my divine heart I will bathe thee." And He opened the door of His heart, the treasure-house of flowing holiness, and she entered into it as though into a vineyard. There she saw a river of living water flowing from the east to the west, and round about the river there were twelve trees bearing twelve kinds of fruit, that is the virtues which the blessed Paul enumerates in his epistle: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, benignity, meekness, faith, modesty, temperance, chastity.[46*] This water is called the river of love; thereunto the soul entered and was cleansed of every stain. In this river there were numerous fish with golden scales, which signified those loving souls which, separated from earthly delights, have plunged themselves in the very well-spring of all good, that is, into Jesus. In the vineyard palm-trees were planted, some of which stood erect, while others were bent to the ground. The palms that stand erect are those who despised the world with its flowers, and who turned their minds to things divine; and the palms that are bent down are those wretched ones who lie in the earthly dust of their misdeeds. The Lord in likeness of a gardener was digging in the earth, and she said: "0 Lord, what is thy spade ?" And He answered: "My fear."--Now in certain places the earth was hard, in others soft. The hard earth signified the hearts of those who are hardened in sin and who know not how to be corrected either by advice or by reproof; the soft earth the hearts of those who are softened by tears and true contrition. And our Lord said: "This vineyard is my Catholic Church, in which for thirty-three years I laboured with my sweat; do thou labour with me in this vineyard." And she said: "How ?" To whom the Lord replied: "By watering it." And straightway the Soul ran eagerly to the river and set a vessel filled with water on her shoulders, and as it was heavy, the Lord came and helped her, and its burden was lightened. And the Lord said: "Thus when I give grace to men, do all things performed or borne for my sake seem light and easy. But if I withdraw my grace, then do all things seem burdensome." Moreover round about the palms she saw a multitude of angels like unto a wall...

In a similar strain the visions of Mechthild proceed, always   [p. 345]   gentle and rarely impassioned but shining with the glow of endlessly changing imagery. There is no limit to the pictures which rise before her mental eye or to the points which suggest analogy with things divine.[47*]

'To rouse the piety of believers in relation to the glorious image of our Saviour Jesus Christ, on the Sunday Omnis terra (the second after Epiphany), that is on the day when the exposition at Rome of the image of Christ takes place, she was granted this vision. On a mountain overgrown with flowers she beheld our Lord seated on a throne of jasper decorated with gold and red stone. The jasper which is green is typical of the power of eternal divinity, gold represents love, and the red stone the sufferings which He endured through love of us. The mountain was surrounded by beautiful trees covered with fruit. Under these trees rested the souls of the saints, each of whom had a tent of cloth of gold, and they ate of the fruit with great enjoyment. The hill is emblematic of the mortal life of Christ, the trees are His virtues, love, pity and others. The saints rest under different trees according as they adhered to the Lord's different virtues; those who followed Him in charity, eat of the fruit of the tree of charity; those who were full of pity, eat of the fruit of the tree of pity, and so on according to the virtue each has practised.

'Then those who were ready to honour the holy face with a special prayer approached the Lord, carrying on their shoulders their sins, which they laid at His feet; and they were forthwith transformed into jewels of glowing gold (xenia aurea). Those whose repentance had come out of love, because they were sad at having offended God without having been punished, saw their sins changed into golden necklaces. Others who had redeemed them by saying the psalms and other prayers, had them transformed into golden rings such as are used at festivals (Dominicalibus). Those who had made restitution for their sins by their own efforts, saw before them lovely golden shields; while those who had purified their sins by bodily suffering, beheld them as so many golden censers, for bodily chastisement before God is like the sweetness of thyme.

The following is an example of a homely simile.[48*]

  [p. 346]  

'On a certain occasion she was conscious of having received an unusual gift through the Lord's bounty, when feeling her inadequacy she humbly said: "O bounteous King, this gift, does it befit me who deem myself unworthy of entering thy kitchen and washing thy platters?" Whereupon the Lord: "Where is my kitchen and where are the platters thou wouldst wash ?" She was confounded and said nothing. But the Lord, who puts questions not that they may be answered but that He may give answer unto them Himself, made her rejoice by His reply. He said: "My kitchen is my heart which, like unto a kitchen that is a common room of the house and open alike to servants and masters, is ever open to all and for the benefit of all. The cook in this kitchen is the Holy Ghost, who kindly without intermission provides things in abundance and by replenishing them makes things abound again. My platters are the hearts of saints and of chosen ones, which are filled from the overflow of the sweetness of my divine heart."'

From a passage in these books[49*] we learn that a large number of Mechthild's visions had been put into writing by her fellow-nuns before she was made acquainted with the fact. For a time she was sorely troubled, then she gained confidence, reflecting that her power to see visions had come from God, and indeed she heard a voice from heaven informing her that her book should be called the 'Book of Special Grace.'

She had all her life been distressed by physical suffering. During her last illness she was generally unconscious and her fellow-nuns crowded about her praying that she would intercede with God in their behalf.

Neither of the Mechthilds makes any reference in her writings to the nun Gertrud, but Gertrud's works contain various references to her fellow-nuns,[50*] and it is surmised that Gertrud helped to put the nun Mechthild's visions into writing before she wrote on her own account. A passage in her own book of visions[51*] refers to revelations generally, and the Lord explains to her how it is that visions are sometimes written in one, sometimes in another language. This idea may have been suggested by the fact that the beguine Mechthild's writings were in German and the nun Mechthild's in Latin.

  [p. 347]  

Gertrud was very different from both of these writers in disposition.[52*] Probably of humble origin, she had been given into the care of the convent as a child (in 1261), and in her development was greatly influenced by the sisters Gertrud the abbess, and the nun Mechthild von Hackeborn. Of a passionate and ambitious nature, she devoted all her energies to mastering the liberal arts, but in consequence of a vision that came to her at twenty-five, she cast them aside and plunged into religious study. She mastered the spirit and contents of Holy Writ so rapidly that she began to expound them to others. Then she made extracts and collections of passages from the Fathers, out of which we are told she made many books. The influence of her personality was such that 'none conversed with her who did not afterwards declare they had profited by it.' The admiration she aroused among her fellow-nuns was so great that they declared that God had compared her to the nun Mechthild and that He said:'In this one have I accomplished great things, but greater things will I accomplish in Gertrud.'[53*] As a proof of her industry we are told[54*] that she was occupied from morning till night translating from Latin (into German), shortening some passages, amplifying others 'to the greater advantage of her readers.' From another passage it appears that she compiled a poem (carmen) from the sayings (dictis) of the saints,[55*] and as an illustration of her moral attitude we are told that when she was reading the Scriptures aloud and 'as it happened,' passages occurred which shocked her -by their allusions, she hurried them over quickly or pretended not to understand them. 'But when it became needful to speak of such things for some reason of salvation, it was as though she did not mind, and she overcame her hesitations.'[56*] Her great modesty in regard to her own requirements is insisted on by her biographer. Many bore witness to the fact that they were more impressed by her words than by those of celebrated preachers, for she frequently moved her audience to tears.[57*] In addition the writer feels called upon to mention a few incidents that happened to Gertrud, giving them a miraculous rendering, no doubt from a wish to enhance her worth.

The information about Gertrud is supplied by the first part of her book called 'The Legacy of Divine Piety,'[58*] which as it does '   [p. 348]   not mention Gertrud's death, seems to have been written while she was alive, perhaps as a preface to a copy of her revelations. It was only after many years of study and literary activity that she determined to write down her personal experiences, and these accounts, written between 1289 and 1290, form the second part of the book as it stands at present and constitute its chief and abiding interest.

The admiration bestowed on the 'Legacy of Divine Piety' was almost greater than that given to the writings of the nun Mechthild. The perusal of a chapter will show Gertrud's attitude of mind. Starting from the occasion when she first became conscious of a living communion with God, she describes how step by step she realised an approximation to things divine, such as reverence, love, and the desire of knowledge alone can secure. She speaks of experiencing in herself a deeper religious consciousness which reacted in making her feel herself unworthy of the special attention of her Creator, and she continues in this strain:[59*]

'If I look back on what the tone of my life was before and afterwards, in truth I declare that this is grace I am grateful for and yet unworthy of receiving. For thou,O Lord, didst grant unto me of the clear light of thy knowledge to which the sweetness of thy love prompted me more than any deserved correction of my faults could have done. I do not recall having felt such happiness save on the days when thou didst bid me to the delights of thy royal table. Whether thy wise forethought had so ordained, or my continued shortcomings were the reason of it, I cannot decide.

'Thus didst thou deal with and rouse my soul on a day between Resurrection and Ascension when I had entered the courtyard at an early hour before Prime, and sitting down by the fishpond was enjoying the beauties of the surroundings which charmed me by the clearness of the flowing water, the green of the trees that stood around, and the free flight of the birds, especially the doves, but above all by the reposeful quiet of the retired situation. My mind turned on what in such surroundings would make my joy perfect, and I wished for a friend, a loving, affectionate and suitable companion, who would sweeten my solitude. Then thou, O God, author of joy unspeakable, who as I hope didst favour the beginning of my meditation and didst complete it, thou didst inspire me with the thought that if, conscious of thy grace, I flow back to be joined to thee like the water; if, growing in the knowledge of virtue like unto   [p. 349]   these trees, I flower in the greenness of good deeds; if, looking down on things earthly in free flight like these doves, I approach heaven, and, with my bodily senses removed from external turmoil, apprehend thee with my whole mind, then in joyfulness my heart will make for thee a habitation.

'My thoughts during the day dwelt on these matters, and at night, as I knelt in prayer in the dormitory, suddenly this passage from the Gospel occurred to me (John xiv. 23), "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." And my impure heart felt thee present therein. O would that an ocean of blood passed over my head that my miserable inadequacy were washed out now that thou hast made thy abode with me in dignity inscrutable! Or that my heart snatched from my body were given to me to cleanse with glowing coal, so that, freed of its dross, it might offer thee if not indeed a worthy abode, yet one not altogether unworthy. Thus, O God, didst thou show thyself from that hour onwards, sometimes kindly, sometimes stern, in accordance with my improved or neglectful way of life; though I must admit that the utmost improvement to which I sometimes momentarily attained, had it lasted all my life, never had made me worthy of the least part of the sustenance which I received in spite of many sins and, alas! of great wickedness. For thy extreme tenderness shows me thee more grieved than angered by my shortcomings, a proof to me that the amount of thy forbearance is greater when thou dost bear with me in my failings, than during thy mortal life, when thou didst bear with the betrayer Judas.

'When I strayed in mind, tempted away by some deceitful attraction, and after hours, or alas! after days, or woe is me! after weeks, returned to my heart, always did I find thee there, so that I cannot say that thou hast withdrawn thyself from me from that hour, nine years ago, till eleven days before the feast of John the Baptist, save on one occasion, when it happened through some worldly dispute, I believe, and lasted from Thursday (the fifth feria) to Tuesday (the second feria). Then on the vigil of St John the Baptist, after the mass Nec timeas etc., thy sweetness and great charity came back to me, finding me so forlorn in mind that I was not even conscious of having lost a treasure, nor thought of grieving for it, nor was desirous of having it returned, so that I cannot account for the madness that possessed my mind, unless indeed it so happened because thou didst wish me to ex   [p. 350]   perience in myself these words of St Bernard: "We fly and thou pursuest us; we turn our back on thee, thou comest before us; thou dost ask and art refused; but no madness, no contempt of ours makes thee turn away who never art weary, and thou dost draw us on to the joy of which it is said (I Cor. ii. 9), 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard it, neither has it entered into the heart of man. These passages must suffice. Anyone desirous of following Gertrud through the further experiences which guided her to the knowledge of God and gave her an insight into the working of spiritual love must turn to her writings, which bear the reader onwards in continuous flow, and with much self-analysis and self-realisation give evidence of the conscious joy which develops into rapture in the presence of the Divine. A passage contained in the last chapter of the book describes Gertrud's hopes regarding her work, and fitly summarises her aspirations.[60*]

Behold, beloved God,' she writes, 'I here deposit the talent of thy most gracious friendship, which, entrusted to me, the lowliest and least worthy of thy creatures, I have set forth to the increase of thy power; for I believe and dare affirm that no reason prompted me to write and speak but obedience to thy will, desire for thy glory, and zeal for the salvation of souls. I take thee to witness that I wish thee praise and thanks, for thy abundant grace withdrew itself not from me on account of my unworthiness. And herein also shalt thou find praise, that readers of this book will rejoice in the sweetness of thy bounty, and, drawn to thee, learn greater things through it; for as students progress from first learning the alphabet to acquaintance with logic (logica), by means of the imagery here described they will be led to taste of that hidden divine sustenance (manna) which cannot be expressed even by allegory.. ..Meanwhile in accordance with thy faithful promise and my humble request, grant to all who read this book in lowliness that they rejoice in thy love, bear with my inadequacy, and feel true contrition themselves, in order that from the golden censers of their loving hearts a sweet odour may be wafted upwards to thee, making full amends for my carelessness and shortcomings.'

Before the personal interest of this portion of the book the other parts written by fellow-nuns fade into insignificance. They contain accounts of Gertrud's thoughts on various occa   [p. 351]   sions, and are chiefly interesting for the comments they contain on various accepted saints; we here see what thoughts were suggested to the Helfta nuns by the personalities of St Benedict, St Bernard, St Augustine, St Dominic, St Francis, St Elisabeth, and others. Thus the feast of St John the Apostle gives rise to an account of him[61*] sitting in heaven, where he keeps the holy record, and writes in different colours, sometimes in red, sometimes in black, sometimes in letters of gold--a simile which recalls the art of writing. The 'Legacy of Divine Piety' of Gertrud has repeatedly been printed in the original Latin, sometimes in conjunction with the 'Book of Special Grace of the nun Mechthild, and, like the revelations of Mechthild, the writings of Gertrud have been translated into German and English. Both in their original form and in selections the writings of these nuns are used as books of devotion among Catholics to this day, but neither Gertrud nor Mechthild have till now been given a place in the Acta Sanctorum.

Gertrud outlived her distinguished contemporaries at Helfta; she died in 1311[62*] her thoughts having been engrossed by the anticipation of death for some time before. During these last years of her life she composed a number of prayers called 'Spiritual Exercises'[63*] for the use of her fellow-nuns, the religious fervour of which has perhaps rarely been surpassed.

They are written in rhyme but in varying rhythm; perhaps they are best designated as rhymed prose. Only the original Latin can give an idea of their eloquence, but, in the interest of the general reader I have added one in English prose. It is one of the series designated as 'a supplication for sinfulness and a preparation for death.' There is one prayer for every canonical hour; the following[64*] is intended for repetition after the hour of prime, 'when the Soul holds converse with Love and Truth; and when the thought of eternal judgment, at which Truth will preside, causes the Soul to beseech Love to help her to secure Jesus as her advocate.'

'And thus shalt thou begin to effect a reconciliation with God.

'O shining Truth, O just Equity of God, how shall I appear before thy face, bearing my imperfections, conscious of the burden   [p. 352]   of my wasted life, and of the weight of my great negligence? Woe, woe is unto me; I did not make the payment of a Christian's faith and of a spiritual life there where the treasures of love are stored, that thou mightest receive it back with manifold increase of interest. The talent of life entrusted to me, not only have I left it unused; but I have forfeited it, debased it, lost it. Where shall I go, whither shall I turn, how can I escape from thy presence?

'O Truth, in thee undivided abide justice and equity. In accordance with number, weight and measure dost thou give judgment. Whatever thou dost handle is weighed in truly even scales. Woe is unto me, a thousand times woe, if I be given over to thee with none to intercede in my behalf! 0 Love, do thou speak for me, answer for me, secure for me remission. Take up my cause, that through thy grace I may find eternal life.

'I know what I must do. The chalice of salvation I will take; the chalice, Jesus, I will place on the unweighted scale of Truth. Thus, thus can I supply all that is wanting; thus can I outweigh the balance of my sins. By that chalice can I counterbalance all my defects. By that chalice I can more than counterpoise my sins.

'Hail, O Love, thy royal bondservant Jesus, moved in His inmost being, whom thou didst drag at this hour before the tribunal, where the sins of the whole world were laid on Him who was without spot or blemish, save that out of pity of me He charged Himself with my sins,--Him the most innocent, Him the most beloved, condemned for love through my love of Him and suffering death for me, Him I would receive from thee to-day, O Love Divine, that He may be my advocate. Grant me this security that in this cause I have Him as my defender.

'O beloved Truth! I could not come before thee without my Jesus, but with Jesus to come before thee is joyful and pleasant. Ah Truth, now sit thee on the seat of judgment, enter on the course of justice and bring against me what thou wilt, I fear no evil, for I know, I know thy countenance cannot confound me, now that He is on my side who is my great hope and my whole confidence. Verily, I long for thy judgment now Jesus is with me, He the most beloved, the most faithful, He who has taken on Himself my misery that He may move thee to compassion.

'Ah, sweetest Jesus, thou loving pledge of my deliverance, come with me to the judgment court. There let us stand together side by side. Be thou my counsel and my advocate. Declare what   [p. 353]   thou hast done for me, how well thou hast thought upon me, how lovingly thou hast added to me that I might be sanctified through thee. Thou hast lived for me that I may not perish. Thou hast borne the burden of my sins. Thou hast died for me that I might not die an eternal death. All that thou hadst thou gayest for me, that through the wealth of thy merit I might be made rich.

'Verily in the hour of death judge me on the basis of that innocence, of that purity which came to me through thee when thou didst make atonement for my sins with thine own self, judged and condemned for my sake, so that I, who am poor and destitute in myself, through thee may be wealthy beyond measure.'


[1*] Comp. Revelationes Gertrudianae ac Mechtildianae, edit. Oudin, for the Benedictines of Solesmes 1875, vols., which contain the works of these three nuns; Mechthild von Magdeburg, Offenbarungen, oder Das Fliessende Licht der Gottheit, edit. Gall Morel. 1869; Preger, W., Geschichte der deutschen Mystik im Mittelalter, 1874, vol. I, pp. 70--132.

[2*] Revelations,etc. Edit. Oudin, vol. I, Praefatio.

[3*] Ibid. Vol. I, pp. 497 ff.

[4*] Comp. Preger, 'Dante's Matelda' Acad. Vortrag, 1873; Paquelin and Scartazzini, 'Zur Matelda.Frage' in Jahrbuch der Dante Gesellschaft, Berlin, 1877, pp. 405, 411; Lubin, Osservasioni sulla Matilda svelata, 1878.

[5*] Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, article 'Mechthild' by Strauch, Ph.

[6*] Keller, L., Die Reformation und die alteren Reformparteien, 1885, pp. 29 ff.; also Hallman, E., Geschichte des Ursprzengs der Beguinen, 1843.

[7*] Mechthild von Magdeburg, Offenbarungen, oder Das Fliessende Licht der Gottheit, edit. Gall Morel, 1869; the abridged Latin version in Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 2, pp. 423--710.

[8*] Heinrich not to be confounded with Heinrich who translated her work.

[9*] Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 2, pp. 298, 329, 332, etc.

[10*] Ibid. vol. I, p. 542; vol. 2, pp. 325, 330.

[11*] Mechthild, Offenbarungen, etc. edit. Gall Morel, p. 3 'Wie die minne und die kuneginne zesamene sprachen.'

[12*] Ibid. p. 6 'Von den rnegden (ler seele und von der minne schlage.'

[13*] Ibid. p. 18 'Von der minne weg,' etc.

[14*] Mechthild, Offenbarungen, p. 43 'Wie die minne vraget,' etc.

[15*] Ibid. p. 38 'Wie die bekantnisse und die sele sprechent zesamne,' etc.

[16*] Ibid. p. 232 'Wie bekantnisse sprichet zu dem gewissede.'

[17*] Ibid. p. 30 'Von der armen dirnen' (I have retained the designation 'saint' where it is used in the allegory).

[18*] Mechthild, Offenbarungen, p. 210 'Da Johannes Baptista der armen dirnen messe sang.

[19*] Ibid. p. 46 'Wie sich die minnende sele gesellet gotte, etc.

[20*] Ibid. p. 82 'Von der helle,' etc.

[21*] Ibid. p. 270 Em wenig von deni paradyso.

[22*] Mechthild, Offenbarungen,p. 52 'Von diseme buche,' etc.

[23*] Ibid. P. 90. 'Dis buch ist von gotte komen,' etc.

[24*] Mechthild, Offenbarungen, p. 110 'Von einer vrowe, etc.

[25*] Ibid. p. 68 'Von siben dingen die alle priester sollent haben.'

[26*] Ibid. p. 177 'Wie em prior, etc.' p. 177 'Von der regele eines kanoniken, etc.' p. 178 'Got gebet herschaft.'

[27*] Ibid. p. 198 'Wie bose pfafheit sol genidert werden.'

[28*] Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 2, p. 524.

[29*] Mechthild, Offenbarangen, p. p.. 115 'Von sehs tugenden St Domenicus' p. 116 'Dur sehszehen ding hat got predierorden liep' ibid. 'Von vierhande crone bruder Heinrichs' p. 154 'Von sehsleie kleider, etc.'

[30*] Ibid. p. 166 'Von funfleie nuwe heligen.'

[31*] A. SS. Boll., St Peter of the Dominican Order, April 29.

[32*] Ibid., St Jutta vidua, May 5, appendix.

[33*] Mechthild, Offenbarungen, p. 256 'Wie em predierbruder wart gesehen.'.

[34*] Meclithild, Offenbarungen, p. 243 'Von der not eines urluges.'

[35*] Ibid. p. 249 'Von einem geistlichen closter.'

[36*] Comp. below, ch. II, § I .

[37*] Mechthild, Offenbaruugen, p. 68 'Von dem angenge aller dinge' p. 107 'Von der heligen drivaltekeit, etc.' p. 147 'Von sante marien gebet, etc.'

[38*] Ibid. p. 14 'In disen weg zuhet die sele, etc.'

[39*] Ibid. p. 16 'Von der pfrunde trost und minne.'

[40*] Mechthild, Offenbarungen, p. 98 'Von zwein ungeleichen dingen, etc.'

[41*] Ibid. p. 214 'Bekorunge, die welt und em gut ende prüfent uns.'

[42*] 'Liber Specialis Gratiae,' in Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 2, pp. 1--421.

[43*] Revelationes,etc. Edit. Oudin, vol. 2, p. 727.

[44*] Preger, W.,Geschichte der deutschen Mystik im Mittelalter,1874, vol. I, p. 87.

[46*] Cf. Gal. v. 22--3, to which Mechthild adds.

[47*] Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 2 ('Liber Specialis Gratiae,' bk I, ch. 10, De veneratione imaginis Christi), p. 31.

[48*] Ibid. vol. 2 ('Liber Specialis Gratiae,' bk 2, ch. 23, De coquina domini), p. 165.

[49*] Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 2 (bk 2 ch. 43, De nomine et utilitate hujus libri), p. 192.

[50*] Ibid. vol. I, pp. 46, 269.

[51*] Ibid. vol. I, p. 218.

[52*] Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. 1, pp. 1 ff. on her life.

[53*] Ibid. vol. I, p. 14.

[54*] Ibid. vol. I, p. 23.

[55*] Ibid. vol. 1, p. 227.

[56*] Ibid. vol. I, p. 27.

[57*] Ibid. vol. I, p. 39.

[58*] 'Legatus Divinae Pietatis' in Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. i, pp. I ff.

[59*] 'Legatus Divinae Pietatis' in Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. I, p. 61.

[60*] Revelationes,etc. Edit. Oudin, vol. I, p. 113.

[61*] Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. i, p. 351.

[62*] Preger, W., Geschichte der deutschen Mystik im Mittlalter, 1874, vol. I, p. 78.

[63*] 'Exercitia Spiritualia,' in Revelationes, etc. edit. Oudin, vol. I, pp. 617--720.

[64*] Ibid. pp. 701 ff.

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