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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, September 25, 2002
    Fiery Yorkshire Lover
    Looking through the events on offer at The Mirfield Centre over the coming months I was drawn by a name only vaguely familiar, by the prospect of an intriguing 'Richard Rolle Pilgrimage' next June.

    Rolle, I discover, was a fourteenth-century English mystic, author of the Incendium Amoris (The Fire of Love), a work of spiritual autobiography written not for those already initiated in the mystic way, but for those "magis Deum diligere quam multa scire conantibus" ("seeking rather to love God than to amass knowledge"). So this work, written in 1343, in Latin, in Yorkshire, still resonates enough today to provoke a pilgrimage to the site of his hermitage in Hempole. I must read it. There's a few translations around, a brief web search reveals:

    I cannot tell you how surprised I was the first time I felt my heart begin to warm. It was real warmth, too, not imaginary, and it felt as if it were actually on fire. I was astonished at the way the heat surged up, and how this new sensation brought great and unexpected comfort. I had to keep feeling my breast to make sure there was no physical reason for it! But once I realized that it came entirely from within... I was absolutely delighted, and wanted my love to be even greater.

    Now, that is astonishing language, especially coming from a Yorkshireman....