Contemplative Profiles: Margery of Kempe

Some of the most important reforms (or attempts at reforms!) in the history of the church came from women who not only held themselves to far more rigorous standards than men but who were rarely trusted. In fact, many female contemplatives were threatened with death, exile, or imprisonment.

Margery Kempe was one of the spiritual leaders of the Medieval Church who predated many of the critiques leveled by the Reformation, calling Christians to love and devotion to Christ rather than relying on external practices.

Today’s contemplative profile of Margery Kempe comes from a list of Women in the Medieval Church featured in Christianity Today: 


“Accused by her contemporaries of fraud or heresy, and often ridiculed by later scholars as hysterical or even crazy, Margery Kempe was born in Lyon, England, c. 1373, and died after 1438. She was an illiterate laywoman turned religious enthusiast who dictated her spiritual autobiography, The Book of Margery Kempe. It is the earliest known autobiography in English…”


“Margery’s message is the exhortation to a simple, direct relationship with Christ based on unconditional faith and fervent love. She repeatedly downplays the importance of externals (such as fasting and the wearing of hair shirts), which, as Christ teaches her, are nothing compared to fervent love and devotion.”




In what ways can external practices become a substitute for devotion to Christ today?

Take 5 minutes to receive the love of Christ for you without precondition or limits.