An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Kempe, Margery

(c. 1373-d. after 1433). English mystic of the medieval period. She was born in Lynn, Norfolk, England. She was the wife of John Kempe, burgess of Lynn, by whom she had 14 children. After a period of mental illness, she received several visions. She and her husband went on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. In 1413 she began a series of pilgrimages. She went first to the Holy Land, Rome, and Germany. In 1417 she went to Compostela, Spain. In 1422 she went to Norway and Danzig. She describes her travels and her religious ecstasies in The Booke of Margery Kempe, which provides almost all the information we have on her life, her travels, and her mystical experiences. It is written in an unaffected prose style which uses such contemporary expressions as “thou wost no more what thou blabest than Balamis asse.” She believed herself to be favored with singular signs of Christ's love, whereby for long periods she was conscious of her close connection with him. During these times she developed a strong compassion for the sins of the world. Apparently illiterate, she dictated her Booke to two clerks. The location of her death is not known. She has been considered for inclusion in the Episcopal calendar of the church year.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.