Friday, May 2, 2008

Marguerite Porete

Marguerite Porete was a mystic of the late 13th/early 14th century. She wrote a book, The Mirror of Simple Souls. While other mystics criticized the corrupt officials of the church, Marguerite went so far as to criticize the institutionalization of the church. She believed she could have a relationship with God outside an institution. In other words, she believed her soul transcended the rituals, rules and dogmas of the church. Here is what she wrote in the The Mirror of Simple Souls, regarding virtue:

"Virtues, I take leave of you forever. I will possess a heart most free and gay.... I was once a slave to you, but now am delivered from it. I had placed my heart completely in you, you know well. Thus I lived a while in great distress. I suffered many grave torments, many pains endured. Miracle it is that I have somehow escaped alive. This being so, I no longer care. I am parted from you. For which I thank God, good for me this day. I am parted from your dominions, which so vexed me. I was never more free, except as departed from you. I am parted from your dominions, in peace I rest."

The church repeatedly arrested her for distributing the book, but she kept doing it. She was finally arrested and imprisoned for a year and a half, but she wouldn't testify to her accusers. She was burned at the stake for heresy on June 1, 1310.

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