John Mirk, Sermon on St. Mary Magdalen
JOHN MIRK, SERMON ON ST. MARY MAGDALEN: FOOTNOTES1 suche a day, on such and such a day [to be inserted by the speaker].
3 comyn, come.
4 dud, did.
5 be, by.
6 that scheo hadde . . . flesse, what she had lost by (following) the desire(s) of the flesh; The wyche, who (that is, she).
7 alle synful, all sinful [people]; schewon, show; levon, desist from.
8 done, do.
9 An, And; and how ye schul here, and you shall hear how (all this came about).
10-11 comyn of, descended from.
11-12 the wyche . . . dying, which he gave at his death.
16 sewond, follow.
17 maydenhed, virginity; dud, did; Herfore, For this reason; gaf hyr al, gave herself entirely.
18 namely, especially.
19 kallyd, called; gresteyste, greatest.
20 seygh, saw.
22 atte . . . houce that, at dinner in the house of a man who.
23 Pharasen, Pharisee; boyste wyth oynement, jar of ointment; os, as.
24 usenden, used; for1, because of; yode, went.
25 durste note, dared not.
26 fette, feet.
27 terus, tears; heyen, eyes; woschon, washed.
28 fax, hair; wypud, dried.
29 cussyd, kissed; box, jar [of ointment].
30 heghly, earnestly.
32 an, and; fendes, devils (fiends).
33 herryng, the hearing.
33-34 there weron, were present.
35 delyverhud, delivered.
36 fayne, eager.
37 sewon, follow; ay forth, from then on.
38 flowen, fled.
39 othyr, others.
40 durste, dared; for, for fear of; kep, guarded.
41 spared, held back; dawyng, dawn.
42 bawmus, balms; yod, went; bawmet, embalmed.
43 levyng, living.
44 yytte in Hys lyve, while He was still alive; helyd, healed.
45 rede flux, flow of blood; payned, afflicted; reysyd, raised.
47 rosse, arose; bodyly, in the flesh.
48 suffred, allowed; an cussyn, and kiss.
49 schewod, showed; synus, signs/proofs.
50 steyed up, ascended.
52 dyden hem, put them.
53 to a drowned, to have drowned; ordeneth, ordains; aftur, according to.
54 lust, pleasure; holle, whole.
55 bonke, bank; see, saw.
55-56 grete pepul, a great crowd.
57 mawmentis, idols.
58 ageyne hom, against them (the idols).
59 sethe, saw (lit., sees); gentryes, nobility; luste, pleasure.
61 grete of mythe, powerful.
62 leven, believe.
64 schappode, planned.
65 whether . . . othour no, whether what Magdalen preached was true or not.
66 vytaylyd, provisioned [with food].
67 moste wende, be allowed to go.
68 schylde, child; graunte, permission.
69 bothe assente, mutual agreement; betokyn, entrusted; godys, possessions.
70 eyther, each; schyldyr, shoulders.
71 ryved, journeyed.
73 wendon . . . spylled, all expected to be killed.
74 began to travayle, went into labor; knave schylde, baby boy.
75 dyod, died.
77 modur pappes, mother's breasts; wrynggyd, wrung.
78 on uche syde, on both accounts; mythe done, could do; Wondyr, Terribly.
79 nedys . . . dyen, he must inevitably see his child die.
80 wommanus sokur, woman's assistance.
81 duste thou thus harde, do you deal so cruelly.
82 behettyst, promised.
82-83 moste nedys dyen, must inevitably die.
84 namely, especially.
85 wolde han caste, wanted to throw.
86 cors, corpse.
87 helte, confidently.
88 schare for of myne cost, projecting rock before us, at my expense; gravyn, bury.
90 for ther was none erthe, since there was no dirt.
91 hongyng skare, overhanging cliff; the schylde wyth, the child with [it]; hylled, covered.
95 discounforded, thof, discouraged, although.
96 os, as; so lad, so [Peter] led.
99 formyd hym in the feyth, instructed and strengthened him in the faith; too, two.
101 grete, greet; ferus, companions.
102 skyrre there he lafte, projecting rock where he had left.
104 bot, unless.
105 setton, steer.
106 see-sonde, sea shore; as schyldron wyllon, as children like to do.
107 sued, followed.
108 fond, found.
109 sokyng the modur pappes, sucking the mother's breasts.
110 mythe, strength (might).
111 fede, fed; of, from; too, two.
112 nogh, now.
113 were I bondon, I would be obliged (bound); wyl, will [be].
115 mote, may; bythe-tyme, delivery; norised, fed (nourished).
118 Ye, syr, I lyf, Yes, sir, I am alive.
120 gate, way.
120-21 fayled in no poynte, recounted it all accurately.
121 heven, raise(d).
123 prechyng, preaching [to].
124 mythe, strength (might).
125 schulde done, ought to do [from then on].
126 tempulles, [pagan] temples.
127 schyrches, churches; reron fontes that, build baptismal fonts so that.
129 wolde gef hyr alle, wanted to devote herself completely.
131 sythes, times.
132 fullud, filled.
132-33 that hur . . . fode, so that she needed no other bodily nourishment.
134 sene, see.
134-35 for to wytton the sothe, in order to know the truth [about].
135 halsodde, called out [in greeting].
138 whesse, washed; badde hym gone, asked him to go.
139 Astur morowon, Easter morning.
140 meton, meet.
142 too cubitus, two cubits (about 3 feet).
143 agaste, afraid; to hyr, to [approach] her; gone, to go.
144 ben uselled, be houseled (receive the Eucharist).
147 makyd . . . lyf of hur, had it carved on all sides with [scenes from] her life.
148 that dud so goddely be hur, who had dealt so graciously with her; alse, also; heygh, great.
JOHN MIRK, SERMON ON ST. MARY MAGDALEN: EXPLANATORY NOTESAbbreviations: C = British Library MS Cotton Claudius A.ii, fols. 91v-93v [base text]; D = Durham University Library MS Cosin V.III.5, fols. 118r-121v; Dd = Cambridge University Library MS Dd.X.50, fols. 126r-129v; G = Bodleian Library MS Gough Eccl. Top. 4 (SC 17680), fols. 116r-119r; H 2403 = British Library MS Harley 2403, fols. 130r-133v; H 2417 = British Library MS Harley 2417, fols. 53v-56v; U = University College, Oxford MS 102, pp. 195-200 (on deposit in the Bodleian Library, Oxford).
1 Gode men. This opening does not imply a single-sex audience. Other manuscripts make that explicit, beginning with such terms of address as Dere frendes (Dd), Gode men and women (H 2403 and H 2417), and Crystyn men and woymen (G).
suche a day [N]. Evidently Mirk expected sermons for saints' days to be given on the preceding Sunday, rather than on the actual day of the saint's feast. A number of the manuscripts insert the abbreviation "N" to remind the preacher where to insert the name of the appropriate weekday.
4 in tyme of grace. That is, Mary is the first repentant sinner mentioned in the New Testament. The era of the law was understood to have given way to the era of grace with the birth of Jesus.
10-15 For the properties left to Mary and her siblings, see explanatory notes to lines 17 and 47-48 of the early SEL version.
15-17 This traditional explanation of Mary's fall is explicitly rejected by the Legenda aurea (Jacobus de Voragine, trans. Ryan, 1.382), partly on the grounds that Albert the Great supplied a different identity for John's intended bride.
22-34 For the Biblical sources of this scene, see the note to lines 79-136 of the early SEL version. Notice that Mirk retells only the narrative of Mary's repentance and forgiveness, omitting both the issue of her extravagance, raised by the apostles, and the issue of her daring to touch Jesus (and His tolerating her ministrations) when she is so flagrant a sinner.
32 clensed hur of seven fendes. By incorporating the exorcism from seven devils into the scene in which Jesus declares Mary forgiven, Mirk suggests a figurative reading of those seven devils as sins.
35-43 Mirk says more about Mary's courage and faithfulness at the time of the Crucifixion than either the early SEL or the Speculum Sacerdotale. This theme, suggested more strongly in John 20:1-2, 11-18 than in the other Gospels, was extensively developed in the larger medieval tradition surrounding Mary Magdalen, including sermons and commentaries; see Caxton A Critical Edition, ed. Mycoff, pp. 164-65, 168-70.
44-45 On the healing of Martha, see explanatory note to lines 141-46 of the early SEL version.
45-46 The resurrection of Lazarus is recounted in John 11:1-44. Although the story in John suggests a good deal about the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalen, the prose retellings of her legend in this collection mention it only in passing, and the early SEL omits it entirely.
47 He aperud to hur bodyly furste of alle othyr. The Gospels do not suggest any kind of post-Resurrection appearance by Jesus before he greeted Mary in the garden, but there is at least one MS of Mirk's sermon (H 2417) which inserts "after His moder" after "first" - thus explaining the qualification bodyly by reminding us that there was a medieval tradition which claimed that the Virgin Mary saw her resurrected Son in a vision even before Mary Magdalen encountered him in the flesh.
51 Maximius. That is, Maximinus. On the various forms of his name, see explanatory note to line 169 of the early SEL version.
57 mawmentis. As the OED explains, the terms "maumet" or "mawment" ("idol") and "maumetrie" or "mawmentry" ("idolatry") were derived from the name "Mahomet," due to the erroneous belief among medieval Christians that the followers of Mohammed worshiped him as a god.
58-63 Notice that Mirk omits all the dramatic appearances of Mary Magdalen at the prince's bedside (lines 239-72 in the early SEL version). In this account the poverty of the apostles is not mentioned and the prince's conversion sounds easy and almost instantaneous.
70 scheo sette on eyther of hyr schyldyr a crosse. See explanatory note to lines 334-36 of the early SEL version.
85-86 On the shipmen's superstitious fear, see explanatory note to line 368 of the early SEL version.
87 helte. This adverb, meaning "confidently," is surprising in this context, and some of the MSS replace it with alternatives that suggest the prince is speaking heedlessly or by chance: lyghtly (H 2403), happis (D), or happely (U).
150 etc. In C the sermon ends here. Other MSS continue: and pray to God as he foryaf Mary Maudelen hur synnys, soo he forgeve you your synnys, and grawnt you the blys that he boght you to. Amen (quoted from G [EETS]. H 2403, H 2417, and Dd all have the first two clauses of the same closing formula, ending with "your synnys.").
JOHN MIRK, SERMON ON ST. MARY MAGDALEN: TEXTUAL NOTESAbbreviations: see explanatory notes.
12 Betanye. C: Betayn(e).
15 as many bokys. Emended from C: as many as bokys.
17 and so he dud. C: omits the he found in most MSS.
20 wherfore. C: whefore.
27 the terus. Emended from C, which has combined the two words into therus.
52 an old schyppe. This is the reading in most MSS. C: a holde schyppe.
54 Marcile. "Marseilles." C: Martile.
55 nygh a tempul. This is the reading in most MSS. C: nyght for nygh.
69 hor godys. This is the reading in most MSS. C: his godys.
85 the dede body. This is the reading in most MSS. C: omits body.
88 for of myne cost. This is the reading in some MSS, including G [EETS]. C: omits cost. Other MSS substitute a much easier interjection, I praie thee (D) or I pray yow (Dd).
97 Crystes. C: crytes.
108 lyft. C: lyf.
111 too yere. Most MSS have the too (or two) omitted by C.
113 were. C: where.
Gode men, suche a day [N] ye schul have the feste of Mary Magdalé, that was
so holy that oure Lorde Jhesu Criste aftur Hys modur He lovid hir moste of alle
wommen. Wherefore ye schal comyn to the chyrch that day to worchep God and
this holy womman, for scheo was the furste in tyme of grace that dud penaunce
for hyr synnes, and so recovred ageyne grace be doing of penaunce, and repentyng
that scheo hadde loste be luste of the flesse and so synnyng. The wyche is made
a myrroure to alle synful to schewon how alle that wollon levon hur synne, and
done penaunce for hur trespace, thei schul recovre grace ageyn that thei have
loste and ofte myche more. An so dude this womman, and how ye schul here.
This womman Mary Magdaleyne hadde a fadur that was a grete lorde and comyn
of kyngus blode, and hadde grete lordeschep in Jerusalem, the wyche he gaf at
hys dying to Lazarus hys sone. And the lordschep that he hadde in Betanye, he gaf
to Martha, hys doghtor. Magdaleyn Castele wyth alle the lordschep he gaf to
Mary, hys other doghtyr, of the whyche castel scheo was callyd Mary Magdaleyne,
for scheo was lady therof. Than, as many bokys tellyth, whan John Evangeliste
schulde have weddyd hyr, Criste hadde John sewond Hym, and lyvon in
maydenhed; and so he dud. Herfore Mary was wroth and gaf hyr al to synne and
namely to lechery, insomyche that scho loste the name of Magdaleyne and was
kallyd the synful womman. Than, for it was often seyne that Cryste of the gresteyste
synnerres He made the moste holy aftyr, wherfore whan He seygh tyme, He gaf
this womman grace to knowyn hyrself and repentaunce of hur mysdedus.
Then, whan scheo herde that Cryste was atte the mete in a mannus houce that
was kalled Symond the Pharasen, scheo toke a boyste wyth oynement, such os
men usenden in that cuntré for hete of the sonne, and yode thidur. But for scheo
durste note for schame gon before Cryste, scheo yode behynde Hym, and toke
Hys fette in hyr handes; and for sorow that scheo hadde in hur herte, scheo wepte
so tendurly, that the terus of hur heyen woschon Cristes fette; than wyth hyr fayre
fax sche wypud hem aftur; and than wyth alle the love that was in hyr herte, scheo
cussyd Hys fette and so wyth hyr box anoynted hem. Bot no worde spake scheo
that man myght here, bot softely in hyr herte heghly scheo cried to Criste of mercy,
and made a vow to Hym that scheo wolde nevre trespace more. Than hadde Criste
compassion of hur, an clensed hur of seven fendes the whyche scheo hadde
wythinne hur, and forgaf hur alle hur gylte of synne in herryng of alle that there
Than for joy that scheo was thus delyverhud of the devellys bondys, scheo
toke suche a tendur love to Cryste, that evre aftur sche was gladde and fayne to
leven alle hur ladyschep and sewon Hym ay forth wyth so fervent love, that in
Hys passion thereas Hys disciplus flowen away from Hym for drede of the deth,
scheo lafte Hym nevre tyl scheo wyth othyr hadde layde Hym in Hys tombe. And
whan no man durste go thyddur for the armyd knytus that kep the tombe, scheo
spared for no drede of lyf ne deth, bot in the dark dawyng toke wyth hur swete
bawmus and yod thidor to have bawmet Crystus body. Thus scheo lovid Criste
bothe levyng and dede.
Wherefore He, yytte in Hys lyve, for love of hur He helyd Martha, hur systur,
of the rede flux that payned hur seven yere, and also reysyd hur brother Lazar
from deth to lyfe, aftur he hadde layne foure dayes stynkyng in hys grave. And
whan He rosse from deth to lyfe, He aperud to hur bodyly furste of alle othyr and
suffred hur to touche Hym an cussyn Hys fette.
Than, for it was knowen to Jewes that Cryste schewod hur so many synus of
love before many othyr, aftur that Cryste was steyed up to Heven, the Jewes tokon
Mary Magdaleyne, Martha hur systur, and Lazarus and Sent Maximius, a byschop,
and many othur, and dyden hem alle in an old schyppe, and putthyn hem into the
see, hopyng so to a drowned hem alle. Bot God that ordeneth for alle aftur Hys
lust, He broght hem alle holle and sounde to the londe of Marcile. There, undyr a
bonke that was nygh a tempul, thei tokyn here reste. Than see Magdaleyn grete
pepul comyng towarde this tempul and the lorde of that cuntré to han done offer-
ing and sacrifice to here mawmentis. But Magdaleyne was so ful of grace of the
Holy Goste, that scheo be hur gracious wordys turned hem alle ageyne hom. And
for this lorde sethe hyr ful of alle swetnesse and gentryes, he had grete luste to
heren hyr spekyn and sayde thus to hur, "If thi God that thou prechyst of is so
grete of mythe as thou sayste, pray to Hym that I may have a chylde be my wyf
that is bareyne, and I wyl leven on Hym." Than graunted Magdaleyne; and so
wythinne a schorte tyme the lady conseyvid and was wyth chylde.
Than schappode this lorde to gone to Jerusalem, to speke wyth Seynte Petur
and wytte whether it where sothe that Magdaleyne prechud othour no. And whanne
he hadde vytaylyd schyppus and made alle redy, than come the lady hys wyfe,
praying wepyng that scheo moste wende wyth hym, thogh scheo were grete
wyth schylde. And so wyth grete strenth of praying scheo gate graunte. Than,
wyth bothe assente, thei betokyn alle hor godys to Magdaleyne to kepon; and
scheo sette on eyther of hyr schyldyr a crosse, and badde hem wende forth in the
name of God. Bot whan thei hadde ryved a day and a nyght, than gan the see to
swellen, and the wynde sternely to blowen, and suche a tempeste to ryson that
thei wendon alle to han ben spylled. Wherefore this lady was so afryght that scheo
began to travayle of chylde, and so anone was delyvered of a knave schylde. And
scheo in the burthe fel doun and dyod.
Than, whan the fadyr saw hys wyf dedde and the chylde borne and graspyng
towarde the modur pappes, he began to wepe and wrynggyd hys handys and was
so sore and so woo on uche syde that he ne wyste whatte he mythe done. Wondyr
sory he was for hys wyfes deth, and nedys he moste sene hys schylde dyen, for
ther was no wommanus sokur for to helpon hym. And than cryed he to Mary
Magdaleyne and sayde, "Allas, Mary Magdeleyne, why duste thou thus harde
wyth me? Thou behettyst me a chylde, bot now is his modyr ded and it moste
nedys dyen, for it hath no helpe, and I myselvyn am redy to be drowned. Help
now, lady, and have compassyon of me, and namely of the chylde that is borne!"
Than toke the schypmen the dede body, and wolde han caste hyr into see, and
saydon thei schuldon have no rest whyl the cors was in the schyppe. Than seyde
he ful helte, "Scheo is not dede bot swowned for drede. Wherefore bryngge the
schyppe to yondur schare for of myne cost, that I may rather gravyn hyr than caste
hur into the watur to be drownyd and devowred of cursyd bestys." Than toke he
this cors and bare it up. And for ther was none erthe to makyn a grave, he leyde it
undir a hongyng skare and the schylde wyth, and hylled hem wyth a mantyl that
he betoke Mary Mawdeleyne to kepon, and yode ageyne to the scheppe wyth
wryngyng hys handys and wondur sore herte.
Than, whan he cam to Jerusalem, Seynt Petur was redy and welcomyd hym and
bad he schulde not ben hevy nor discounforded, thof hys wyf were dede; for God
was of myght to makyn hym another tyme as glad os he was than sory. And so lad
hym forth and schewed hym alle the places of Crystes doing in erthe, of Cristes
nativité, of Hys passyon, of Hys sepulture, and of Hys ascencion; and so evre
formyd hym in the feyth fully. And whan he hadde ben ther too yere, Sent Petur
sent hym home agayne and bad hym ben in ful beleve of Criste, and gaf hym hys
blessyng and bad hym grete wel Mary Magdaleyne and alle hyre ferus.
Than, whan this lorde cam ridyng in the see, he sagh the skyrre there he lafte
hys wyfe and hys chylde. And than ther felle suche longyng in hys herte to go
thydor that hym thoght he schuld dye bot he yode thydyr. Than made he the
schypmen to setton the schypp thidur; and whan he cam thidur, than sawe he a
schylde syttyngge on the see-sonde, pleying wyth smale stonys as schyldron wyllon.
But whan the chylde saghe hym, he ran forth into the skyrre. Than sued the fadur
aftur and cam ther he lafte hys wyf dede, and lyft up the mantyl and fond the
schylde sokyng the modur pappes. Than thankyd he Mary Magdaleyn wyth alle
hys mythe and sayde, "O Mary Magdaleyne, thou arte of grete myght wyth God
that thus haste kept and fede this schylde of this dede body now too yere in grete
comforde and joy to me! Woldest thou nogh of thi godenesse reyse my wyfe to
lyfe, than were I bondon evre to be thi servaunde, and wyl wyth a ful gode wille!"
Than, wyth that worde, the lady satte up and sayde, "Mary Magdaleyne, yblessyd
mote thou be that was mydwyf to me in my bythe-tyme, and sythen hast norised
my chylde wel and sounde whyl I have ben in my pylgrymage!"
Than sayde he, "My wyf, lyvest thou?"
And scheo answerod and sayde, "Ye, syr, I lyf, and now com oute of my
pylgrymage, as ye don. For as Seynte Petur hath ladde thee abowton, so hath
Mary Magdaleyne ladde me the same gate," and tolde hym alle thyng and fayled
in no poynte. Than heven thei her handys up to God, and thankyd Hym and Mary
Magdaleyne of that grete miracul that thei schewed in hem.
And whan thei comyn hom, thei foundon Magdaleyne prechyng the pepul. And
than anone thei fellon doun to hur fette and thankud hyr wyth alle here mythe and
prayd hur to telle hem whatte thei schulde done, and thei wolde wyth glade herte.
Than Magdaleyn bad hem distroy the tempulles of that londe and make ther
schyrches, and reron fontes that the pepul myghte be cristened. And so in schorte
tyme alle the londe was turnyd to Cristen feyth.
Than, for Magdaleyne wolde gef hyr alle to contemplacion, scheo yode prively
fer into wyldernesse and was ther thirty yere unknowon of alle men wythoute
mete or drynke. Than, uche day seven sythes, angelus beron hyr up into the ayre,
and there sche was fullud wyth melody of angellus, that hur nedud none othyr
bodyly fode. Bot whan God wolde that scheo schulde passon oute of this worlde,
He made an holy preste to sene how angelus beron hur up and doune. And he, for
to wytton the sothe whate that was, he yode to the place and halsodde yyf there
were any Cristyn creature that he schulde speken and tellyn hym whatte he were.
Than answerid Magdaleyne and sayde that scheo was a synful womman that
the Gospel spake of, that whesse Crystes fette, and badde hym gone to Maxcencius
the byschoppe, byddyng hym that he come on Astur morowon to chyrch, "for
there I wyl meton hym."
Thus whan this byschop harde this, he was ful gladde; and whan he com to
chyrch, than sawe he Magdaleyne borne up wyth angelus too cubitus fro the erthe,
and than he was agaste. Than Mary callyd to hym and bad hym to hyr, and gone
and sayne a masse, that scheo mythe ben uselled. So in syght of alle the pepul,
whan masse was done, scheo wyth hye devocion reseyvid Goddys body; and anone
therwyth scheo gaf up the goste. Than toke the byschop hyr body and leyde it in a
tombe of stone and makyd for to graven alle aboghtyn the lyf of hur, in worchep
of God, that dud so goddely be hur, and in honour of hyre and alse in heygh
comforde to alle synful.
Wherefore ye schul knelon adoun etc.