Archive for the ‘mediaeval’ category

Better than shouting

July 3, 2006

The priest understood no English and did not know what she was saying, and she knew no other language than English, and therefore they spoke through an interpreter, a man who told each of them what the other said.

Then she prayed the priest, in the name of Jesus, that he should make his prayers to the blessed Trinity, to our Lady, and to all the blessed saints in heaven, also urging others who loved our Lord to pray for him, so that he might have grace to understand her language and her speech in such things as she, through the grace of God, would say to him.

[…]

Desiring to please God, he followed the advice of this creature, and he prayed to God as devoutly as he could every day, that he might have grace to understand what this creature would say to him, and he also got other lovers of our Lord to pray for him. They prayed in this way for thirteen days. And after thirteen days the priest came back to her to test the effect of their prayers, and then he understood what she said in English to him, and she understood what he said. And yet he did not understand the English that other people spoke; even though they spoke the same words that she spoke, he still did not understand them unless she spoke herself.

From The Book of Margery Kempe. (Penguin Classics edn.)