The Role Of Saint During Medieval Times

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How would a woman achieve the role of Saint during medieval times when their visionary legitimacy is questioned? For Margery Kempe, trying to prove herself as a viable candidate through martyrdom is a difficult task. Throughout her story, she is constantly having to prove herself to her community and to the church hierarchy, but it always comes at a cost. Consequently, Margery is ridiculed, taunted, and accused of many negative things, yet she stands firm in her belief that her gifts are real. The physical threats she receives, such as being burned, are all part of her performance. Although these gifts of visions and miracles are questionable, she is able to mold them in order to achieve her spiritual goals. In The Book of Margery Kempe, translated and edited by Lynn Staley, Margery gives the performance of a lifetime by using her visionary gift to spiritually manipulate her community and the church officials into fulfilling hers and God’s requests. Margery Kempe has mastered the best way to seek attention which is her weeping and she uses this gift a way to punish herself in order to please God. As with Marie d’Oignies, Margery is given the gift of tears from the Lord, which causes many public disruptions since she puts herself on display in front of her community and religious authorities. Consequently, she uses her excessive weeping as a way to attract negative attention since, in the chapter, “The Radical, Yet Orthodox, Margery Kempe,” written by Fiona Tolhurst, states, “…she [Margery] presents herself as a social martyrdom by annoying her fellow pilgrims so greatly that they punish her” (193). Therefore, Margery seeks to attract this type of reaction which causes her to be constantly ridiculed, “…the people…spoke against thi... ... middle of paper ... ... a performance in order to fulfill her needs. She uses her gift as a visionary to punish herself so that she can please God, for this is what Margery believes will make her a martyr. Therefore, she solicits this abuse from her community and members of the church in order to make this happen by constantly weeping. Margery also utilizes her visionary gift as a way to gain merit within the church hierarchy since she has a close relationship with Christ. By manipulating both the church and her community, Margery successfully completes each spiritual task given to her, whether its receiving verbal abuse and threats in order to please God, or wearing white clothing. Margery becomes a master in performing in front of an audience, whether it’s her community, the church, or even God himself. She is quite the actress, ultimately gaining herself a unique reputation in society.
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