Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe

I really enjoyed reading the texts about the lives of these two women.  I enjoyed it much more than the actual texts written by Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe.  Although they are both recognized in the Anglican and Catholic faiths, I couldn’t help but picture this…

Julian of Norwich on the left, Margery Kempe on the right.

I know it’s not an accurate depiction of the two (as they are both ‘saintly’ figures) but from what I gathered from the biographies I read, Julian of Norwich had nothing on Margery Kempe in terms of dramarama.  An attempted suicide, many psychiatric problems, being strapped to her bed for 8 months…a much more interesting read than the righteous life of poor ol’ Julian.

I have to say, I was impressed with the works of Julian of Norwich in regards to her outlook on sinning in the 14th century. I was raised in a Catholic family, went to church every Sunday while growing up…but I have never heard of either of these women (or maybe I have, but it’s been so long since I have been to church, I have forgotten).  Having been taught the values of this faith, I can see how she has become such an important figure in both the literary and religious worlds.  Her thoughts were basically that sinning was necessary in achieving self knowledge. She didn’t believe that people sinned because they were evil (which many people considered to be the case in this era); but rather that their sins were on account of their naivety and ignorance.  To learn in life, one must fail and in order to fail, one must sin.  Simple enough, right??

One thing that I did notice while reading about these two women, was that their writings were lost for hundreds of years before they were found and fully recognized.  Until this time, they received very little recognition for what should be considered outstanding accomplishments – so many female voices of the 14th century and beyond are silenced due to their gender and position within society at that time.  Whether or not there were actual visions of God or Christ can be debated, but by using the only medium available to them at the time – religion – Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe are still able to get their points across, hundreds of years later, through their works.  How many of us are able to claim the same?


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