Marguerite Porete - In Her Own Words

I was to learn that to be a religious mystic one risks death. 

I was born in the village of Hainaut in France in the 12th century, and even in my childhood, I felt the spiritual pull to serve God. As soon as I was old enough, I joined a small group of women, part of the Beguine movement. Women of my era had begun to experiment with the possibility of a way of life outside of being a wife or cloistered nun. Beguines were small communities of women who wanted to be more useful and followed Christ by working among the sick and poor. It was easier to become a Beguine than a nun, for I need not pay an exorbitant dowry and need not wait for a vacancy in a convent. Further, they were not officially affiliated with the Church, and therefore not subject to all their rules and doctrines. This appealed to me even more because it gave me the freedom to do things my own way.

And do things my own way, I did. I chose to live on my own, and worked hard for the sick and poor. At every opportunity, I preached publically, and even translated the Bible into French. This whetted my appetite for writing and I soon began to write my own book, based upon my own personal religious views, I entitled THE MIRROR OF SIMPLE SOULS. It became immediately popular and circulated throughout France. But it was also controversial, and shocked Church officials, who soon had me arrested and brought to trial for heresy. 

My trial was a travesty. Throughout the trial, I maintained my silence, refusing to answer their questions or acquire a solicitor to defend me. They took my preachings out of context and soon, I was found guilty of heretical mysticism. I was condemned to burn at the stake, refusing to recant my beliefs. On June 1, 1310, while I burned, the crowd was moved to tears by the calmness of how I faced my end. 

My death only made others believers, and despite the fact my book was banned and ordered destroyed, it survived in monastery libraries in France and beyond. MIRROR OF SIMPLE SOULS continued to circulate anonymously for my name had been ordered struck. The book became so popular that centuries later, a Flemish mystic by the named of Jan tried to take credit for my work. 

“Reason, you'll always be half-blind.” 


“They have no shame, no honor, no fear for what is to
come. They are secure, says Love. Their doors are open. No one can harm them.”  

Marguerete Porete
Mirror of Simple Souls 

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Unknown said…
This is an excellent tribute to the essence of Marguerite Porete and her women followers, far better than any weighty tome. In so many words of her own, she reminds us how we can know God's love and peace as Jesus taught.

But who would dare to know this love and die for it as Marguerite and her Beguines did? Rather than burn her book, they chose to burn with it. The fire in their heart was greater than the fire they were put to. We can know this fire in our own heart as they did, if we dare to.

Jesus is The Mirror Of Simple Souls, if one can see and avoid any desire other than the desire for God's love. In serving others, especially the least among us, Marguerite and her Beguines served God and knew the peace that surpasses all understanding.

But Marguerite and her Beguines will never be made saints like Mother Theresa. The power and authority of the Church is more important. Just as Jesus was condemned and crucified by His high priests, so were Marguerite and her Beguines condemned and burned to death by the Church.

Love is a threat to any power and authority. Jesus refused this power and suffered His enemies that we might also, to love as Marguerite and her Beguines did. Sin is nothing more than having power over others to get what we want, even in God's Holy Name, same as the insane.

This is an evil that can never be cast out as Jesus tried to warn His apostles to His dying day. That we need to know what can come out of us, if not face the Devil as He did to be delivered as He was. But the lesson of the lowly repentant and the Pharisee who exalts himself was lost on the apostles who argued who was greatest among them. It is also lost on many of us, as well.

Who can stoop low enough rather than look down on others?

Jung confirmed what Jesus taught.

Perhaps if St. Peter had answered Jesus' question about St. Mary Magdalene, "Why do I love her more than you?", he might not have denied Jesus, and the Church might not have the history it has. Peter had just received the 1st sacraments, the promises of Heaven and the bliss of oneness, besides walking and talking with Jesus.

The problem of evil clearly remains.

For all the mercy shown Peter, he had none for the brave converts Ananias and Sapphira, setting the stage for the Church to come. Jesus never demanded strict obedience or caused the death of anyone. In living by the sword the Church nearly perished from it. Had St. Paul answered Jesus' question, the Church wouldn't have persecuted Jesus either, or Marguerite and her Beguines. Clergy steal to this day while denying sacraments to the poor who fail to tithe. Jesus also made it clear about not harming children or covering anything up, how we need to be like children to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.

Satan will get his wish any time we deny any iniquity, even the possibility that we could deny Jesus. God put the serpent in the garden that we might have knowledge of good and evil, which Moses raised up and Jesus would have us remember. At least Eve became wise as the serpent.

Jung would simply say to know how much good and evil we're capable of.

He showed how our dreams can help.

If St. Mary Magdalene had been recognized as Jesus' apostle to the apostles, forever reminding them of what He said, women might've been given equality and the Church wouldn't be what it is. The lost children of Israel are no different than the lost children of the Church. As Jesus wept for Jerusalem for not hearing His message of peace, He weeps for any of us who are also deaf to His words, which Marguerite tried to remind us of.

As Jesus loved St. Mary Magdalene, He can love us too, if we can have gnosis like her, which Marguerite and her Beguines clearly had. As Jesus appeared to Mary first after His resurrection and continued to appear to her, He can appear to us, as well.

It is thru the Divine in us all that Marguerite and her Beguines lived and died for.

So must we, if we dare.

Stan Current
Denver Colorado USA
1 June 2015
Mirella Patzer said…
Thank you, Stan, for writing such a thoughtful comment. May God's peace always be with you. God Bless.
Anonymous said…
This picture is also used for Julian of Norwich. Were they from the same order?