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St. Lydwine of Schiedam 

litijil ofrgtat. 

Censor Deputatus. 


Vic. Gen. 


Die 25 Martiii 1912. 

St. Lydwine of Schiedam 



Canon Regular of the Congregation of Windesheim 



Author of " Life of the Venerable Thomas k Kempis " 




MAY 61969 


Who share St. Lydwine s expiatory pains 
One day to partake of her glory 








St. Lydwine of Schiedam 



The Life of Lydwine, Virgin, is of all 
the works of Thomas a Kempis cer 
tainly the least original and to Eng 
lish readers generally the least familiar. 
The latter fact is most probably due to 
the subject matter. That the work is 
not original, Thomas himself is our 
authority, when he states in his Pro 
logue that he has read through the 
" book of the life of the holy and most 
patient virgin Lydwine," and has now 
sent it on to his brothers, the Canons 
Regular of Briel, composed in a style 
more brief and clear, with certain omis 
sions and his own division of chapters 
and books. In fact, our venerable 
Author contented himself with merely 



editing the biography already published 
by one John Brugman. A comparison 
with the latter shows that almost 
throughout a Kempis has retained even 
the language of Brugman. This cir 
cumstance has rendered the task of 
translation somewhat ungrateful: but 
a full compensation has been found in 
the intense interest which a study of 
the life itself of this servant of God 

The first sentiment that arises, as 
one reads the unvarnished and detailed 
account given by the ancient chroniclers 
of the appalling sufferings which afflicted 
Lydwine, may be one of very natural 
repulsion. But a more attentive con 
sideration of this pathetic figure, lying 
motionless there in the darkened hovel, 
enduring the most atrocious pains, with 
never a murmur of complaint, never a 
thought of self, embalms the soul with 
the sweet fragrance of Christian virtue, 
such a fragrance as refreshed the senses 
of those who penetrated into her miser 
able cabin. The thought of the active 
works of charity, which this victim of 
expiation initiated and carried out to 
relieve miseries far less intense than 
her own, fills the mind with admiration 



and amazement. And a further con 
templation of the marvellous, mystic 
delights, with which her soul was 
almost habitually inundated, gives rise 
to a sense of mingled awe and envy. 

It is indeed a wonderful existence to 
which we are here introduced : on the 
one hand unexampled physical suffering, 
wholly unrelieved by natural remedies, 
wholly unsupported by natural nourish 
ment, and on the other supernatural 
visitations as unmeasured only as the 
pains of the poor, tortured, worn-out 
frame. So marvellous an existence may 
well excuse a certain amount of pre 
vious scepticism, and certainly it is such 
as to call for proportionate proof. But 
once that proof is forthcoming, for the 
scientific and unprejudiced mind there 
is nothing for it but to accept the facts, 
be the explanation what it may. 

These facts are of two orders. The 
first regards the sufferings and absti 
nence of Lydwine. However weird, 
however varied, however intense, how 
ever long continued, and under each and 
all these heads, however inexplicable 
from a natural point of view these ail 
ments may be, in themselves they were 
sensible facts, capable of being observed 



and tested by all, and by their very 
strangeness evoking a more close and 
detailed observation and criticism than 
would be given to ordinary events of 
daily life. The same is to be said of her 
continued and absolute fast. Marvel 
lous and miraculous as is the prolonga 
tion of a human life despite such complex 
and malignant maladies, and despite the 
absence for so many years of all bodily 
nourishment and sleep, the only other 
hypothesis admissible contemplates an 
alternative far more incredible, viz. that 
the entire population of a country town 
and who does not know the inten 
sity and ingenuity and malevolence of 
neighbourly curiosity in such centres? 
-should either have been hoodwinked 
itself, or should have entered into a vast 
and meaningless conspiracy to deceive 
the whole kingdom, princes, medical 
men, skilled theologians, and strangers 
of every conceivable quality and degree. 
The second order of facts regards other 
favours more directly supernatural. 
Many of these enter into the same cate 
gory as the first in so far as they fall 
immediately under sensible observation. 
Of the others, as the majority of the 
raptures and visions recorded, Lydwine 



herself is our sole authority. If these 
are to be rejected, it can be only on the 
supposition that the virgin was suffering 
from delusion or that she was living a 
lie : and how far such a theory tallies 
with the ascertained facts of her charac 
ter and her conduct may be safely left 
to the unprejudiced mind to judge. 

It would indeed be difficult to find a 
biography, of which the details, incredible 
as they may seem at first sight, are 
presented to us with more convincing 
authority. The Venerable a Kempis 
himself was a contemporary of the 
maiden whose saintly life he undertook 
to edit ; he was born the same year, 1380, 
and he passed away thirty-eight years 
after her demise. For some of his facts 
he quotes the authority of first or second 
hand witnesses. For the rest, he has 
followed very closely John Gerlac and 
John Brugman; but that, as is suffi 
ciently evident from the Prologue, not 
without considerable deliberation and 
discussion. Finally, the Author of the 
Imitation was not likely easily to lend 
the authority of his name to the recount 
ing of unfounded extravagances. 

John Brugman, whose Life our Author 
chiefly uses, thus enumerates his sources 



of information in his Introduction: 
" Let the readers of this biography know 
that I have received the greater portion 
of it from the lips of Master John Walters 
of Lyden : who for nearly eight years 
was the confessor of that virgin, and 
learnt these things from her : in part [I 
have taken it] from the writings of John 
Gerlac, a certain relative of hers who 
lived in her house many years: and in 
part from a letter which the Governors 
of the city of Schiedam delivered as a 
testimony of her ailments to Master John 
Angels of Dordrecht, of the Order of 
Premontre, of Marienwaer, who was 
then Pastor of the town Church : and a 
little [I have gathered] from the lips of 
others worthy of faith : but the whole 
[has been compiled] with the correction 
or approbation of the aforesaid Master 
John, the confessor of this virgin, and 
of John Gerlac." The extract is cer 
tainly of interest if only as showing that 
hagiographers of the fifteenth century 
were not unaware or careless of the exi 
gencies of historical criticism. 

The John Gerlac here mentioned as a 
relative of the Saint and living many 
years in her house, was an ascetic 
writer of some repute and a Canon 



Regular of Windesheim, a fervent and 
humble religious, according to the testi 
mony of his contemporaries. He wrote 
a biography of his holy kinswoman soon 
after her death in German, and John 
Brugman s first Life, the one later 
edited by a Kempis, is little more than 
a translation into Latin of this. 

Subsequently John Brugman wrote 
another biography with considerably 
more detail and a good deal of expan 
sion. John Brugman himself was a 
Friar Minor, a friend of Denys the 
Carthusian, and he is quoted by Wad 
ding as one of the first preachers of his 
day, a man remarkable alike for elo 
quence and sanctity. 

Both these biographies are edited and 
annotated by Papebroch in the Bollan- 
dists Acta Sanctorum, April, Vol. II. 
There also is found a copy of the Letter 
of the Magistrates of Schiedam, to which 
John Brugman refers in the extract 
above, and which he gives in extenso 
in the Prologue to his second Life. 
This curious document seems worthy 
of a place here, both on account of its 
own intrinsic interest and as a further 
witness to the critical investigation to 
which the actions and sufferings of our 



Saint were subjected. The most exact 
ing in these days of boasted research 
could hardly demand more. A com 
parison of this Letter with Chapters 
VI. and VII. of Part i of a Kempis 
Life will show that he, as well as Brug- 
man before him, made free use of this 
authentic piece. The reader must for 
give the involved phraseology for the 
sake of a literal translation. 

"We, the Baillif, 1 the Mayor, 2 the 
BoUigmaestres, Sheriffs and Councillors 
of the town of Schiedam, in the Duchy 
of Holland, in the Diocese of Utrecht, 
make known to all that we have seen 
and read, in the year of the Lord 1421 
on the twelfth day of September, the 
Letter sealed with the seal of our town, 
containing word for word as follows : 

"To the faithful of Christ, all and 
sundry, spiritual and lay, adults and 
minors, nobles and commoners, to men 
and persons of both sexes of whatever 
state, rank or condition they may be, 
within cities or without, on land or on 
sea, or wheresoever they may tarry, or 
have their home or place of habitation, 

1 Appointed by the Prince. 

2 Elected by the people. 



whom the present letters may reach, the 
Baillif, the Mayor, the Bourgmaestres, 
Sheriffs and Councillors of the town of 
Schiedam, in the Duchy of Holland, in 
the Diocese of Utrecht, greeting with 
ever humble salutation and witness to 
the truth. Whereas right reason judges, 
justice demands and requires that true 
happenings and cases may be openly 
published, reported and manifested, yea 
ought justly to be published, reported 
and manifested ; especially those where 
in the praise, honour and glory of God 
may be present and shine forth. 

Therefore we certify and we make 
known, and we desire the faithful of 
Christ aforesaid all and sundry to know, 
we publish, we report, and we witness 
in truth to these writings, concerning 
the facts and events most wondrous and 
strange, which in the abovenamed our 
city have happened and taken place, and 
still daily take place and happen in a 
certain virgin, named Liedwy Peters. 1 
Be this known that the said virgin and 
maid was grievously sick, and very 
greatly tormented in her bed, whereon 

1 i.e. Liedwy (daughter) of Peter : her father was 
called Peter, his surname Johns, i.e. of John, after 
his father, who was a John Peters. 

17 B 


also she lies and has lain well twenty- 
three years on the Feast of the Purifica 
tion of the Blessed Virgin Mary last 
passed. And within the same time she 
has never taken or received save one 
half a pint of wine a week or there 
abouts, with a little water, or a little 
sugar, or a very little cinnamon well 
ground; except that within the first 
three years of her ailment, occasionally 
and between times, she took a small 
piece of apple or bread, and sometimes 
ate or drank a little fresh milk: but 
within the seven years last passed she 
has used no food or drink at all, nor 
does use any at present. 

"She does not sleep, nor for all the 
above-written seven years has she ever 
slept, except very little, and scarcely 
for the space of two nights, all reckoned 
together. And she lies now so pitiably 
and miserably, that she has lost her 
intestines and is deprived of the same. 
And grey worms, full of water of the 
same colour, thick as a spindle-end, 
about as long as the joint of a finger, 
eat and gnaw her flesh, without any 
fetor or ill odour arising thence, (the 
which we write with the leave and 

reverence of all). And when in times 



past she was wont to be moved or 
handled, then it was necessary to bind 
her body well above about the shoulders 
with bandages, or with a towel, or with 
some such thing : otherwise the whole 
body would have fallen into small portions 
and would have utterly dropped to pieces. 
But now in later times she cannot in 
any way be moved, nor could she be 
within the seven years last passed, 
during which she has lain and still lies 
on her back, and cannot move save her 
head and one arm. 1 

"And sometimes at intervals from her 
mouth, nose, ears and other passages 
she sends forth much blood, notwith 
standing that she takes no food or drink, 
nor has taken save as above described. 
And the same virgin and maid within 
the same seven years aforesaid had and 
still has every third day a great and 
grievous tertian fever, which first comes 
to her with an unutterable heat : and 
not long after this comes a terrible cold : 
and then again heat and cold by turn. 

1 It seems that the right arm was quite withered 
and shrunken, holding- to the body by a single nerve, 
the consequence of an attack of that strange and 
terrible malady of the Middle Ages, known as the 
Sacred Fire, or St. Anthony s Fire. 



And this lasted thus for well half a year : 
but after this period she has cold en 
during: for a time and then heat. And 
when she is freed from this fever, then 
is she quite unconscious for ten or 
twelve hours. And when she has and 
suffers the aforesaid fevers, then she 
vomits or sends out by the mouth at 
night much red water, so that a quart 
vessel is filled thereof in a week : and 
moreover in addition within the year 
she also vomits and throws up well two 
measures full of this water 

"The aforesaid virgin and maid has 
also in her body three openings : of 
which each is well as large as the inner 
hollow or bottom of a common cup, and 
they are as black as pitch, as appears 
to those who look in and see. And from 
one of them, which is in the stomach 
of that virgin and maid, there run and 
overflow at intervals as many sometimes 
as two hundred together of the aforesaid 
worms; and upon it is placed a kind 
of plaster mixed and made of honey and 
fresh flour of the best wheat : and there 
from those worms suck and take their 
nourishment, otherwise they would tor 
ment her even to death : and if this 
flour were old and not fresh, those worms 



would not have such, or use that plaster. 
All these things have been proved and 
found thus by experience : and now 
those openings are closed. 

" Every fortnight also the above-named 
virgin and maid receives the most holy 
and venerable sacrament of the altar, 
the Eucharist ; and the priest who com 
municates her must needs use skill and 
care when he communicates her : other 
wise she could not receive or swallow 
the Eucharist. And then he gives her 
very little water : which also she cannot 
very well pass, or swallow, but first she 
works it in her throat for a time, as 
one who gargles; and sometimes he 
gives her no water on account of the 
difficulty of passing or receiving the 
same. 1 Moreover, this virgin and maid 
from below even to the stomach is 
utterly and wholly putrefied; and it is 
needful to close this wound with a little 
cushion of wool made especially for the 
purpose, about the size of a fist : other 
wise her intestines and lower parts would 
quite fall away. And thus in truth the 
marvels and portents, which in the said 

1 This giving of a little water after the Com 
munion of the sick is in accordance with a. prescrip 
tion of the Roman Ritual. 



virgin and maid have been wrought and 
are still daily wrought, are exceedingly 
great and so numerous and varied, that 
they cannot be clearly and fully written, 
or described by the pen. The oft-named 
virgin and maid was also fourteen years 
of age, when her ailment first overtook 
and befell her. 

"And whereas we, the Baillif, the 
Mayor, the Bourgmaestres, Sheriffs and 
Councillors aforesaid have been well and 
fully informed and certified of the above 
written details, yea daily well perceive 
and witness them : therefore we seal 
the present letters for a plain and true 
testimony, with our seal which we use 
for cases, appended in the year of the 
Lord, 1421, on the eve of the Blessed 
Mary Magdalene, the twenty-first day 
of the month of July." 

In common with the hagiographers of 
his time, our Author does not follow the 
chronological order in his Life. More 
over, he gives us very few dates. The 
same negligence is observable in other 
details, as for instance in the names 
of personages who figure in the story. 
In fact, he wrote simply for the edifica 
tion of his brothers in religion, and for 
this purpose doubtless he considered 



such items superfluous, even when he 
did not regard them as already known. 
Nevertheless he had a very definite 
scheme of his own in the arrangement 
of books and chapters. In the First 
Book he narrates, and that in a roughly 
consecutive order, an account of the 
progress and variety of Lydwine s physi 
cal sufferings, and a history of her 
corporal works of mercy, together with 
the miraculous favours whereby God 
showed His appreciation of her charity. 
The mention of her poverty leads him 
to speak of the spirit of poverty and 
other virtues, and of the death of her 
father. This induces him to digress 
further and dwell on the good qualities 
of her grandfather, and finally of the 
passing away of her mother. Moreover, 
it must not be forgotten that these 
successive bereavements were a part and 
a very sensible part of the afflictions of 
the saint ; for she was tenderly attached 
to the members of her family, and one 
after another she saw them taken away 
from her. The Author returns to this 
subject also in the Second Book. This 
Second Book treats more directly of 
the inner, spiritual life of the Saint, 
and of the prodigious graces of which 



she was finally the object. Here again 
he roughly outlines the progress from 
the innocence, not free from thought 
lessness and other faults, of childhood 
to the ripe perfection attained after long 
years of patient suffering and almost 
uninterrupted union with God. The 
three miracles, with which he fittingly 
closes his history, he received, as he 
tells us himself, directly from Dr. William 
Sonderdank, an eyewitness and a medical 

As, however, it may assist the modern 
reader to a better appreciation of the 
affecting story of this servant of God 
to have an idea of the chronological 
sequence of events, I give here a brief 
epitome of the biography, arranged 
according to the few dates which a 
Kempis and Brugman have supplied. 

1380. The Saint s mother is pain 
lessly delivered of a daughter during 
the singing of the Passion, Palm 
Sunday, March iSth. 

1380-1394. Lydwine passes a bright 
childhood in a poor, but very Christian 
household, and is remarked for her 
piety and other rich gifts both of nature 
and grace. Her father receives on her 
behalf some very advantageous offers 



of marriage, but the child declares her 
intention of remaining; always a maid. 
About her fourteenth year she is stricken 
with illness, and then, before she is quite 
recovered, she receives a fatal fall upon 
the ice, February 2nd, 1394. 

1394-1397. These three years are a 
sad period of material and spiritual 
neglect. One malady succeeds another : 
the child suffers and frets. At this 
time she receives Holy Communion 
once a year, at Easter-tide, when she 
is carried to the Church for the pur 
pose. However, the miracle narrated 
in Chapter V. shows that even then 
the maid must have been possessed of 
remarkable purity and singleness of 

1398. About this time her confessor, 
John Pot, taught the invalid how to 
meditate upon the Passion of Christ. 
This she finds very difficult at first, 
but with persevering efforts and especi 
ally with the grace brought by a fervent 
Communion, she acquires great recol 
lection, and now begins to feel happi 
ness in her pains, recognising therein 
God s will and her special vocation. At 
the same time the Confessor commences 
to communicate her twice a year. 



1400. Lydwine took to her bed, never 
again to touch the earth in life or 
after death. 

1402. About this date Lydwine s 
mother, Petronilla, died. This event 
marks a real epoch in the Saint s life, 
for, having- generously ceded all her 
merits to her dying mother, she now 
regarded herself as under a necessity 
to compensate for this loss by renewed 
efforts and redoubled penance. 

1405. It was about this time that the 
Saint commenced that series of wonder 
ful ecstasies, which were to continue 
with but few interruptions until her 

1406 is marked as a year of a very 
severe winter, during which Lydwine 
suffered indescribably from the cold. 

1413. About this time commences 
Lydwine s complete fast from all food 
save the Holy Eucharist, although in 
deed hitherto her nourishment had been 
so scanty as scarcely to deserve the 
name. From the same epoch dates her 
entire freedom from sleep. 

1421. This is the date of the magis 
terial inquiry, the result of which has 
been given above. In this document 
her confessor is mentioned as com- 



municating her once a fortnight. But 
henceforth until her death she received 
habitually in the intervals of two days 
between her quartan fevers. 

1423 is the date of the death of her 
brother William, over which Lydwine 
grieved so intensely as to be deprived 
for some time of her wonted spiritual 

1425. The sufferings endured by Lyd 
wine at the hands of the Duke of 
Burgundy s mercenaries merit for her 
a martyr s crown. 

1426 witnesses the death of the Saint s 
beloved niece Petronilla, and therewith 
the snapping of the final cord of an affec 
tion, which, however pure and blame 
less, was not entirely for her Divine 

1433. April I4th, the Saint s happy 

1434. A chapel is built in the cemetery 
by her tomb. 

A few words now to bring the story 
of our Saint to the present day. 

In accordance with her own wish 
Lydwine s house was transformed into 
a hospital, or home for aged females, by 
Dr. William Sonderdank, a physician 
remarkable for his piety and generosity, 



and devotion to the holy maid. 1 It 
seems that this hospice was placed in 
the charge of Franciscan nuns; for 
Molanus says that these Sisters had a 
convent on the spot, with a chapel and 
altar in the very bedchamber of the 
virgin. "But," he adds, "the enemies 
of the Faith and of all piety utterly 
destroyed all this in the year [i5]72." 
The destruction, however, does not ap 
pear to have extended to the building 
itself, for this was used as an orphanage 
again in 1605, and was rebuilt in 1771. 

To prevent the profanation of the 
Saint s relics during the religious 
troubles of the sixteenth century, the 
Catholic party under the Archduchess 
Isabelle and Prince Albert bought Lyd- 
wine s mortal remains from the Re 
formers, 1615, and translated them to 
Brussels, where Matthias, Archbishop 
of Mechlin and Primate of Belgium, 
after due authentication, authorised 
their veneration, granting to the same 
effect an indulgence of forty days. A 
copy of the Metropolitan s Act, dated 
Jan. I4th, 1616, is to be found in the 
Bollandists, loc. cit. 

The same year, 1616, the Archduchess 

1 See Note, page 211. 


made a present of a portion of the holy 
relics to the Canonesses Regular of 
Mons, in Hainult, on the occasion of a 
plague which was devastating that city. 
Ten years later a further and very con 
siderable portion of the relics was be 
stowed by the same Princess on the 
Carmelite Nuns of Brussels, whose con 
vent she had founded in 1606. Finally, 
at Isabellas death, the remainder of the 
relics were transferred with great pomp 
to St. Gudule s, the Cathedral Church 
of Brussels. 

The official documents concerning all 
these translations and of these various 
marks of public honour paid to the relics 
were happily never lost an exact copy 
is given in the Bollandists and thus it 
came to pass that when within the last 
fifty years advances were made at Rome 
to obtain Papal recognition and appro 
bation of the veneration of the faithful 
to the holy maid Lydwine, there was no 
difficulty in proving the fact of the cultus 
ab immemorabili tempore. 

It was on the strength of this imme 
morial cultus that, after all the tedious 
process and scrupulous details where 
with such grave matters are ever regu 
lated in the Eternal City, Pope Leo XIII 



issued a short Decree, dated March I4th, 
1890, solemnly approving the veneration 
paid to the virgin Lydwine under the 
title of Blessed, or Saint. At the same 
time an Office and Mass of the Saint 
were approved for the Diocese of Har 
lem; and the Carmelites of Brussels 
were requested to bestow a portion of 
her relics on the Church of Our Lady of 
the Visitation, Schiedam, one of the 
three Churches, which to-day minister 
to the spiritual needs of the ten thousand 
Catholics who now dwell in St. Lydwine s 
native town. 

It was there that the present writer 
had the happiness of seeing and vener 
ating the holy relics, in the July of 1906. 
Ever since I had taken up the study of 
the life and times of the Venerable 
Thomas a Kempis, I had longed to pay 
a visit to the scenes amid which his 
days were passed. I read with intense 
interest the graphic account of such a 
visit given by Sir Francis Cruise in his 
Thomas a Kempis (Kegan Paul & Co., 
1887), and I promised myself that if the 
opportunity should be mine, I also would 
pass over the same holy ground. The 
opportunity presented itself in 1906 and 
pocketing Dr. Cruise s work as my 



Baedeker, and a more reliable guide 
could not be desired, I made a little 
a Kempis pilgrimage by way of Kempen, 
Deventer, Zwolle, this last of course in 
cluding Agnetenberg and Windesheim, 
and finally, in the interests of the present 
volume, Schiedam. 

With regard to my visit to the first 
three named towns there is little to add 
to what has been already so well de 
scribed in the treatise just cited. I note 
merely that at Kempen, the oil painting 
of the Venerable Thomas, which Sir 
Francis Cruise found in the old Fran 
ciscan Church, now hangs in the Study 
Hall of the splendid Collegium Thom- 
maeum, a Convictus or Boarding House 
for scholars from a distance who attend 
the courses in the fine Grammar School 
opposite. Likewise the portrait for 
merly hung in the Town Hall is now 
preserved in the Kempen Museum, to 
gether with another portrait and several 
engravings and editions of a Kempis. 
In the Grammar School Library there is 
a fine a Kempis collection, the initiative 
of which is due to Dr. Pohl, the pains 
taking Editor of the new critical issue 
of the Omnia Opera, from which the 
present translation is taken. 



Finally, since the date of Dr. Cruise s 
visit, there has been erected in the close 
of the Parish Church, and within view of 
the site of the birthplace of a Kempis, 
a magnificent statue in bronze, on a 
massive pedestal in black marble, re 
presenting our venerable Author in the 
habit of a Canon Regular, seated with a 
volume of the Imitation open in one 
hand and a pen in the other. On the 
front of the pedestal is engraved : 
Thomas von Kempen. On the back the 
words in Dutch : Raised by the Thomas 
Institute to the great son of Kempen, 
1901. On Thomas left the verses from 
the Imitation, book iv (iii) ch. i : 
" Happy the soul that heareth the Lord 
speaking within her; and from His 
mouth receiveth a word of consolation. 
Happy the ears that receive the accents 
of the divine whisper, and take no notice 
of the whisperings of the world." On 
the other side, the further quotation : 
" If thou didst know the whole Bible by 
heart and the sayings of all the philo 
sophers, what would it all profit thee 
without the love of God and His grace ? 
Vanity of vanity, and all is vanity, save 
loving God and serving Him alone." It 
is really a striking and most impressive 



monument, and one cannot but rejoice 
that the Venerable Thomas is thus re 
membered and honoured in his native 

At Deventer I found things exactly as 
described by Sir Francis Cruise. There 
I had the consolation of gazing upon 
the skulls of Gerard Groote and Flor- 
entius Radewyn, which having been 
rescued from the old Parish Church in 
the time of the Reformation riots, are 
now reverently preserved in the sacristy 
of the Broedern Kirk. If I may add a 
personal note, I must say that I can 
never forget the intelligent courtesy and 
homely kindness of the Sacristan, or 
Koster, of this church. Indeed through 
out my pilgrimage I met with the same 
consideration on all sides, which was in 
truth the more welcome, as "greatly 
daring " I had undertaken this tour alone 
and quite unconversant with either 
German or Dutch. 

The interest of the pilgrimage culmi 
nated at Zwolle, in which district the 
Venerable a Kempis passed by far the 
greater portion of his long, laborious 
career. But here also everything has 
been so thoroughly described before me 
by my friend, Dr. Cruise, that once more 

33 c 


I must content myself with referring the 
reader to his interesting pages. Since 
his date, however, a magnificent monu 
ment has been erected in the Church of 
St. Michael to enshrine the relics of a 
Kempis. This is minutely described in 
my Life of the Ven. Thomas a Kempis, 
(Washbourne, 1901) ; and I need not go 
over that ground again. There has 
been some talk recently of founding an 
a Kempis Museum in Zwolle, which is, 
by the way, one of the neatest and 
prettiest little towns I have ever seen. 
While awaiting funds and a suitable 
locality for this purpose, two valuable 
portraits and many other items of in 
terest are preserved in the central hall 
of an ancient hospice for the aged, 
named Emmanuel Huis; these were 
shown me with the utmost courtesy by 
M. Th. Heerkens, of Zwolle, a prominent 
member of the Upper Chamber of the 
States-General and an ardent a Kempist. 
Finally, there is a movement on foot to 
erect a statue to the Ven. Thomas in 
the public square of the town. 

On my visit to Windesheim I was 
kindly accompanied by the Rev. B. M. 
Brom, Curate of St. Michael s, Niew- 
straat. Of the famous Canonry nothing 



remains, save part of the Infirmary, now 
used as the Protestant temple of the 
little village. Let into the wall of this 
chapel are two tombstones, one with 
the recumbent figure of a priest, with 
chalice, &c., and an almost illegible in 
scription deciphered by F. Haefer, Pre 
sident of the Society of Thomas a 
Kempis, and furnished me by Fr. Brom, 
as follows: (Hie jacent) venerabiles 
et devoti viri Theodorus de Herxen 
et dominus (Gerardus Scatte de 

I come now to the last stage of my 
pilgrimage, and that which more directly 
concerns the present volume, Schiedam, 
the native town of St. Lydwine. Here I 
parted company with my genial guide, 
Sir Francis Cruise, but I knew that an 
other, J.-K. Huysmans, had been here 
also before me. 1 

The first object of my inquiry was the 
Church of the Visitation, where, as re 
lated above, the relics of St. Lydwine 
are preserved. I called upon the Pastor 
and explained the motive of my visit, 
expressing at the same time a desire to 
celebrate holy Mass at the shrine of the 

1 See his very original and intensely interesting 
Sainte Lydwine de Schiedam. Paris : Stock. 



Saint. Unfortunately, this privilege was 
just then impracticable: the Church 
was undergoing one of those thorough 
"spring cleanings" of which the good 
Hollanders are so prodigal, and one 
altar only was available for the holy 
Sacrifice. The Pastor, however, con 
soled me by promising to have the relics 
exposed for my veneration on the 
morrow. He was as good as his word, 
and the next morning I had the happi 
ness of praying before the exposed relics 
of the holy maid, whom I had learnt to 
reverence and love, as I unravelled the 
story of her sufferings, virtues, and re 
wards from the quaint Latin of a 

The relics are enshrined in a very fine 
altar, constructed in an exquisite little 
chapel off the south aisle. In bas-relief 
over the centre stands a figure of the 
Saint, holding a crucifix, and before her 
an Angel presenting her the traditional 
rose-branch. 1 On the right hand of the 
reliquary is another bas-relief, repre 
senting Our Divine Saviour, attended 
by Angels and Saints, administering the 
last rites to the dying virgin : 2 on the 
left, the Saint, as found by her neigh- 
See Note, page 191. 2 See Note, page 190. 



bours immediately after death, her 
hands joined upon her breast, all traces 
of long years of disease banished, all 
and more than all her youthful freshness 
and beauty restored. 1 Below, occupying 
the whole length of the altar, the Saint 
reclining, earnestly studying her crucifix, 
the Angel hovering near with the rose- 

Round the walls of the Chapel are 
depicted, with considerable verve and 
skill, seven epochs from the life of the 
Saint. The Statue of Our Lady of 
Schiedam smiles upon her in her child 
hood (Part I, chap. ti). The fateful 
fall on the ice (Part /, chap. iv). 
John Pot earnestly exhorts the sick 
maid to essay meditation upon the 
Passion of Christ (Part II, chap. t). 
The Miraculous Host (Part II, chap, 
xxii). Her ecstatic voyage to the 
Holy Land and vision of the Passion 
(Part II, chap. ii). The multiplica 
tion of bread, meat and money given in 
alms (Part I, chaps, xx, xxii}. The 
brutal assault of the mercenaries of 
Picardy, in which an Angel is seen 
hovering above the Saint, holding ready 
a martyr s crown (Part II, chap. vii). 

1 Part II, chaps, xxvii, xxviii. 



Finally, the fire of Schiedam, where 
Angels again appear protecting the 
Saint (Part II, chaps, v, xvi). 

Anent this last incident, it is worthy of 
note that the Saint is regarded by all, 
Catholics and Protestants alike, as the 
Guardian of the town against fire. It is 
certainly a remarkable fact that since 
her death no more than a single house 
has been burnt at a time, a significant 
record considering the inflammable 
material stored in such abundance in 
this town, known the world over for its 
Hollands, or Schiedam schnapps. 

After I had duly noted these various 
points, the good Pastor further devoted 
a considerable portion of his much occu 
pied time in showing me from the Parish 
Archives a collection of various docu 
ments, ancient and modern, connected 
with the history of the Saint and especi 
ally with the process of her recent 
canonization. It is not necessary to go 
into these details here : they would be 
more in place in a full and modern 
English life, such as that already quoted 
of J.-K. Huysmans in French, or that 
other which M. 1 Abbe" Cordurier so 
charmingly composed for the comfort 
and edification of his " dear incurables 



of the Hospital of Bourg." 1 What 
chiefly interested me at the time was 
an old Dutch translation of a Kempis 
Life of the Saint, and a series of twenty- 
two quaint little woodcuts, depicting- 
various incidents from her story. 

The Curd also informed me that 
devotion to St. Lydwine is very popular 
in the town, and that in his Church there 
is a special service in her honour every 
Thursday evening, for which is used a 
manual of prayers compiled for the 
purpose by his predecessor. I noticed 
statues of the Saint in the two other 
Catholic Churches of Schiedam, served 
by Dominicans, who in fact ministered 
to the spiritual needs of this district 
even through the Reformation days. 

One other most interesting relic I was 
also conducted to see, the ancient marble 
slab which formerly covered the Saint s 
tomb. This, it is said, was placed face 
down the figure of the Saint is sculp 
tured thereon in the pavement of the 
now Protestant Church to prevent 
Catholics coming to pay their devotions 
to it. Another account asserts that 
Protestants themselves out of respect 

1 Vie de la Bienheureuse Lidwine, Vierge, Models 
des Malades et dcs Infirmes. Paris : Retaux. 



would walk round rather. than tread 
upon it. Be that as it may, one dark 
night the precious slab disappeared from 
its dishonoured resting-place. Through 
inability or connivance the authorities 
made no active pursuit. And now the 
stone with its figure and its inscription, 
giving the date of Lydwine s death in 
old Dutch, may be seen in the tiny 
Chapel of the Dominican convent, close 
to the Church of the Visitation. While 
I was examining it there, the old ladies 
who are tended and sheltered by the 
gentle Sisters in their destitution or in 
firmity, dropped in one by one to pay 
their visit or tell their beads, and the 
thought passed through my mind how 
pleased St. Lydwine must be that this 
relic should be preserved in a Christian 
home for the poor and aged, such as she 
had destined her own house to be. 

I visited also the ancient parish Church 
of St. John the Baptist, rebuilt after the 
fire in St. Lydwine s own days, and for 
so long the resting-place of her holy 
remains. On my way I noted a gay 
wedding party issue from the portals of 
the Town Hall, and this incident, in 
contrast with the utter void of the huge 
empty white-washed building of St. 



John s its whole furniture the bare 
wooden benches ranged round the organ 
and reading desks seemed to me a 
striking illustration of the sad changes 
wrought by the religious revolt of the 
sixteenth century. 

It is round this venerable Church that 
what remains of ancient Schiedam still 
survives, and as I wandered about amid 
its narrow streets, quaint bulging build 
ings, frequent canals and wooden draw 
bridges, it was not so difficult for the 
imagination to people and animate the 
scene again with the personages and 
incidents of the Life of St. Lydwine. 

But, for the rest, it is well understood 
that Schiedam is not a town of which 
Dutchmen boast, or to which tourists 
crowd. Its staple industry is gin, and 
the whole atmosphere is impregnated 
with the odour of the boiling grain used 
in the manufacture ; and were it not for 
the redeeming native virtue, this town 
alone of all that I had seen in the Nether 
lands would be positively dirty. 

To conclude, the text, on which the 
following translation is based, is that of 
Dr. Pohl, edited from the autograph of 
a Kempis, which is preserved in the 
University Library, Louvain. There the 


original may be seen bound in one volume 
with Thomas Sermons to the Novices 
Regular , the caligraphy still beautifully 
clear and legible. 

The footnotes throughout are the 
Translator s. 

St. Ives, Cornwall, 

All Hallows, 1910. 

1 Translation. London : Kegan Paul. 1910. 


Life of Lydwine, Virgin 
Part I 




To the Religious Brethren, Canons 
Regular of the monastery of St. Eliza 
beth, near Briel in the country of Zee- 
land. Brother N., a poor pilgrim, 
humbly begging the suffrages of your 
prayers. Most beloved brothers in 
Christ, since we profess the same Order 
and Rule, it is just that according to 
the saying of St. James the Apostle 
we pray for one another, and adorn 
our faith with good works, and keep 
the bond of charity in true love. May 
your fraternity then deign to know that 
at the request of your brethren I have 
read through the book 1 of the life of the 

1 Drug-man s first Life, founded chiefly on John 
Gerlac s German MS. See Introduction. 



holy and most patient virgin Lydwine: 
and as you have long desired I now 
out of charity send you the same to 
read composed in a style more brief 
and clear. Do not take it ill that I 
have delayed ; nor attribute to presump 
tion what I have done: because the 
counsel of your venerable Prior came 
and urged me to the doing. For what 
seemed at first difficult to me, by the 
help of God through your prayers has 
at length arrived at completion. I have 
divided the whole matter of the book 
into two parts, and to each part I have 
prefixed its own chapters. Also by the 
advice of certain religious I have omitted 
many things which seemed liable maybe 
to cause doubt or nice questioning to 
some simple souls. I have chosen 
therefore from many things to write 
and gather rather those which might 
instruct in virtue and clearly show a 
way of humble imitation to those who 
should read. But they are almost all 
fit subject for wonder, surpassing my 
experience ; and I leave the judgment 
of them to my betters. But I trust 
that the prayers of the humble will be 
more pleasing and acceptable to God 

and the holy virgin herself, than to 



search into lofty things, and foolishly 
gossip of the secrets of God. Let it 
not disturb anyone if the name is spelt 
sometimes Lydia or Lydwine, for this 
is found in other histories of the saints : 
as Agna is suitably written for Agnes, 
Walburga for Walburgis. We read of 
a Lydia in the Acts 1 of the Apostles, 
whom Paul the Apostle converted, and 
in whose house he received hospitality ; 
and our Lydia willingly received many 
religious to discourse of things divine : 
and taught by a holy angel she very 
often brought the grace of heavenly 
comfort to the troubled of heart. 

1 Acts xv 14, 15. 



Chap. Page 

I. Of the birthplace and birth of the 
virgin Lydwine, and the probity of 

her parents 51 

II. Of her devotion to the image of the 

Blessed Virgin .... 54 

III. Of her strong purpose in the state of 

virginity 56 

IV. Of the beginning of her weakness, 

and the occasion of her long illness 58 
V. Of the opinion of a certain doctor, 

and the miracle that befell her . 60 
VI. Of the scantiness of her nourishment 

for many years .... 63 
VII. Of the various illnesses and pains that 

tormented her day and night . 65 
VIII. Of the severity of her fever, and a 

fresh disease in her leg ... 70 
IX. Of the hardness of her bed, and the 

cold she suffered in winter . . 73 
X. Of her watchings and struggle 

against sleep .... 76 



Chap. Page 

XI. Of the poverty and endurance of her 

father 79 

XII. Of the illusion of Satan who cast her 

father into a ditch . . . .81 

XIII. Of the death of her father on the vigil 

of the Conception of the Blessed 
Virgin Mary . . . . 83 

XIV. Of the death of John Peters her 

grandfather, and his long conti 
nence 85 

XV. Of the death of Petronilla her mother 87 
XVI. Of her state after her mother s death, 

and her pity for the poor . . 89 
XVII. Of the burning of her bed, which she 
put out with one hand without any 

injury 90 

XVIII. Of the ashes ministered to her by an 

angel at the beginning of Lent . 91 
XIX. Of the wine miraculously placed in 

her cup 93 

XX. Of the money paid for her brother, 

and multiplied in her purse . . 95 
XXI. Of the ham given to the poor, and 

miraculously replaced by another . 97 
XXII. Of the meat and peas given to the 

poor, and multiplied ... 99 
XXIII. Of the vision of a heavenly table, filled 

by the alms of the poor . . . 101 



On the western coast of Holland is 
situated a certain city called from a 
neighbouring stream 1 Schiedam, which 
God, Who is mighty and wonderful in 
His saints, adorned with the wondrous 
and unexampled patience of a certain 
holy virgin. This virgin was rightly 
called in effect and name from her much 
suffering Lydwine; 2 because, scourged 
by divers sicknesses, she became most 
pleasing to her heavenly Spouse Christ. 
By the lovers of the world, while she 
lived, she was deemed poor and mean ; 
but by the Creator of Heaven she was 
chosen as a most precious pearl out of 
the waves of the sea, and in the heavenly 
kingdom placed most high with the holy 
virgins. Her origin was noble from 
a military family ; but it was made more 

1 The Schie. 2 Lydcn, to suffer. 



noble and illustrious by the grace of 
the Holy Ghost coming upon her. Her 
father was called Peter ; who, although 
he was noble of lineage according to 
the dignity of the world, nevertheless 
by the permission of God he had come 
down to such poverty that in the time 
of Duke William, the son of Albert 
Duke in the County of Holland, he 
sought food and the necessaries of life 
by keeping the night watches of the 
city; whereby to support himself and 
his family decently. This Peter, when 
after the manner usual with men in the 
world he had earned his livelihood in 
simplicity in much toil for some years, 
took to wife one Petronilla, a woman 
of great probity and virtue, befitting 
his name and nobility; who by the gift 
of God flourished with the seed of many 
children, and, fearing God, strove to rule 
her house religiously. She begot eight 
sons, and one daughter named Lydwine, 
whom certain Latinists call Lydia, con 
cerning whom the present discourse 
intends to relate the many marvels 
which God wrought by her before many 
witnesses. Although, therefore, being 
the mother of so many children she 
had suffered the greatest labour in the 



birth of each, nevertheless in the bring 
ing forth of this daughter she felt almost 
no pain. For having entered the Church 
on Palm Sunday, feeling that the time 
of her childbirth was at hand, with 
speed she returned home; and almost 
without any great pain she brought 
forth this child of election during the 
reading of the Lord s Passion, in the 
year of the Lord s Incarnation, one 
thousand three hundred and eighty, 1 on 
the fifteenth of the Kalends of April 2 
on the morrow of Gertrude Virgin, 3 in 
the time of Pope Urban the Sixth, the 
third year of his pontificate, the reverend 
prelate Florentius, dear both to the 
clergy and the whole people, sitting in 
the See of lower Utrecht. This daughter 
then, having been born in the fifth 
place in the order of children, and re 
generated in the baptism of Christ, 
received the name of Lydwine, or Lydia, 

1 The year which also witnessed the birth of the 
Venerable a Kempis himself. 

2 March i8th. 

3 St. Gertrude of Nivelles, daughter of Pepin of 
Landen, Duke of Brabant and ancestor of Charle 
magne. Her feast is kept in the Lowlands on 
March i8th. This Saint must not be confounded 
with the Benedictine St. Gertrude, whose feast falls 
Nov. 15th. 



given her by her parents. She was 
truly an ornament among- the daughters 
of men and a mirror of modesty; but 
by the ordinance of God from eternity 
she soon became a devout contem- 
plator of the Lord s Passion and con 
formed to the crucified by many wounds 
of bodily sickness. 



When this maiden, then, was seven or 
eight years of age, by the inspiration of 
God she commenced to have a great 
devotion to the image of the blessed 
Virgin Mary, which stood in the church 
of Schiedam. The townsmen of that 
city relate that this statue was obtained 
very miraculously and bought for a small 
sum from a certain man, the sculptor 
of the said image. For when he, wish 
ing to go to the fair at Antwerp and sell 
the image there at a better price, had 
gone on board ship, taking the image 
with him, the image became of such a 
great weight that twenty or more men 



could not move the boat from the shore. 
Seeing this, the seamen in amaze con 
sidered that the difficulty of moving- the 
vessel came from the presence of the 
image, and that it wished to have the 
place of its dwelling there. After a brief 
counsel, then, the artist sold the image 
to the citizens, who for reverence set 
aside a special choir to it in the church. 
And later in honour of the blessed and 
glorious Mary ever a Virgin many of 
the townspeople of both sexes associat 
ing together instituted a certain confra 
ternity. And this image was of wood 
and so light that one man could easily 
have borne it. This image therefore the 
young maiden, when she had carried 
their dinner to her two brothers who 
went to school, before she returned home, 
entering the church, lovingly visited; 
and she devoutly strove to honour the 
same as best she could by the angelic 
salutation. And this good and praise 
worthy beginning indeed was remark 
able in her childish days, and it was 
a presage of greater grace in the future, 
from the years of her youth even to the 
end of her life. When therefore she 
was reproached by her mother for her 
late return, the dove without gall replied, 



that she had entered the church to greet 
the blessed Virgin, and that she in turn 
had smiled upon her. Hearing which 
her mother was satisfied, and gently con 
tented ceased to trouble her. For she 
was a dear and only daughter ; and she 
was found worthily engaged in the work 
of God and the praise of the blessed 
Virgin, and was not therefore to be 
restrained from her devotion. 



Having passed the years of infancy, 
when she was now advancing in the 
age of girlhood, she was endowed with 
such beauty of body and quickness of 
mind and other gifts of nature bestowed 
on her by God, that when she was twelve 
years old she was sought by many in 
marriage. To the which her father ex 
horted her; the mother would by no 
means agree because of her ignorance 
and youth, but rather dissuading, asked 
him not to disturb her. Then she with 
constancy answered her father, that he 



would never induce her to this ; yea, that 
if there were no other means of escape 
she would treat herself in such wise 
that no one would seek her in wedlock. 
Wherefore she daily besought the Lord 
that He would take all harmful and 
fleshly love away from her heart, that 
she might be able to love Him alone, her 
God and Lord, with pure heart and body. 
Whose prayers and desires the loving 
and merciful Lord heard without delay, 
Who had chosen her from eternity a 
spouse unto Himself; and providing by 
a wondrous dispensation, He accom 
plished her will in much bodily suffering, 
according to that saying of His holy 
word. " Every branch that beareth fruit 
My Father will purge it ; that it may 
bring forth more fruit" (John xv 2). 
For the earth was good, producing the 
flowers of modesty ; but lest the vanities 
of the world or the delights of the flesh 
should violate the seal of virginity, 
Christ hedged it round with thorns and 
most grievous pains, that it might not 
be fit for any nuptial bed. 





When therefore she was in her fifteenth 
year, lest she might begin to wander 
after the flocks of her worldly com 
panions, 1 the physician of souls, Christ, 
lovingly visited her for the salvation of 
her soul and fettered her with a certain 
bodily weakness, from which afterwards 
she partially recovered. It happened 
then at the end of the fifteenth year of 
her age about the feast of the Purifica 
tion of the blessed Virgin Mary, 2 that 
she was invited by her girl companions 
to go with them upon the ice shod with 
skates ; when one of her comrades going 
along over the ice at a rapid pace, and 
unable to stop herself, caught Lydia by 
the hand ; and before long she suddenly 
fell upon some fragments of ice, and, 
seriously hurt, broke a small rib in her 
right side. From which fracture many 
pains befell her, and increased. For 
first a hard abscess grew round the place 
of the broken rib; and although her 

1 A reference to Canticles i 6. 2 Feb. 2nd. 



parents expended much to heal it, 
nevertheless they were not able to ob 
tain the wished for cure. And when 
no one could heal her, and she had 
been frequently moved from place to 
place, from bed to bed, as the violence 
of her disease demanded; at length in 
the sixteenth year of her age, on the 
vigil of St. John Baptist, 1 when her 
father had come to her to console her, 
she, starting up from the place where 
she lay, in her weakness fell doubled 
up upon the knees of her father. And 
in this brusque movement the abscess 
was broken, and the matter flowed in 
abundance through her mouth with 
vomiting; and thereupon she became 
so feeble that she was thought to be 
almost dead. From that time forward 
she now began to be afflicted with con 
stant infirmities, in which, before she 
had the taste of things spiritual, she 
accepted human and bodily remedies, 
as need required; although they pro 
fited but little, and did not relieve her 
pain. And so for the first three years 
of her sickness at Eastertide she was 
taken or carried to the church for Holy 
Communion ; and as she could not stand 
or walk upon her feet she used a stick 

1 June 23rd. 



or a crutch, creeping- along inside or out 
of doors. Often also she drank copiously 
of the cold water of the ditch, although 
it was muddy ; or, coming to the fire, she 
would take it hot or warm from the 
saucepans, which nevertheless she im 
mediately threw up from her weakened 
stomach. For want then of human 
counsel, and with an increase of care 
less management, her body wasted 
away; but the soul in its vessel of 
clay was preserved by a hidden grace 
for great merit hereafter, that in her 
might be accomplished what is read 
of blessed Job. " Behold, Satan, he is 
in thy hand: but yet save his life 
(Job ii 6). 



A certain doctor from Delft, Master 
Andrew by name, 1 visiting her, told her 

1 The author has here followed John Brugman in 
his Life translated from Gerlac : but in his later and 
corrected work Brugman attributes these remarks to 
Godfrey of Hague, who is mentioned in ch. iii, and 
whose son, also a doctor, appears in Book II. 



parents as in prophecy, that by no 
means would she obtain health, even 
if they should expend a large sum of 
English nobles for her. The same ex 
perienced Master, to console her parents 
and kinsfolk, also added that God would 
work such and so great supernatural 
wonders in her, that for a weight of 
gold the size of the maiden s head he 
would wish that she were his daughter : 
for from such an offspring he would hope 
to receive the greatest joy. 

And there befell, in the aforesaid three 
years while the maiden, was lying abed 
ill, a thing very miraculous, which God 
deigned to manifest to the glory of His 
name and to make known the virgin s 
merit. Two men in the city excited in 
mind against one another began to 
quarrel, and one pursued the other with 
a drawn sword to strike and wound, 
or kill him. The other of them there 
fore in terror fled to the house and 
chamber of this maiden, that hiding 
there he might escape the hands of 
his pursuer. Whom the other following 
soon after, asked of her mother Petron- 
illa whether he had entered the house. 
And she, wishing to save the fugitive 
by her lie and to hinder the pursuer 



from shedding blood, answered him that 
he had not entered. But he, not believ 
ing the words of the mother, went into 
the inner room of the sick girl. And 
when he had asked her whether he had 
entered her chamber, the holy virgin 
with hope in God confidently replied 
in the affirmative. At which answer her 
mother, being angry, gave her daughter 
a blow, as if she had added to her misery 
the treason of malice by her incautious 
words. Then the daughter replied to 
the mother with constancy: "I there 
fore told the truth, because I hoped that 
the truth would conceal him who fled 
to it." Which also happened, by the 
providence of God. For he who was 
sought unto death stood before the eyes 
of his pursuer, and was quite unseen. 
He departed therefore, giving over the 
pursuit of the fugitive, not knowing that 
the power of God had been there. Seeing 
which, her mother extolled the faith of 
her daughter far exalted above her faith, 
or rather her want of faith ; and hence 
forth she conceived a fuller love towards 
her, and began to bear her infirmities 
more kindly. 





After this her maladies increased and 
multiplied so much, that deprived of all 
strength of body she was entirely con 
fined to her bed, so that for the space 
of thirty-three years before her death 
she did not touch the ground. And her 
nourishment after the first three years 
until the nineteenth year of her sickness 
was of a food slight and little, and that 
cannot be conceived sufficient for the 
sustenance of so very ailing a human 
life. Sometimes she took a small piece 
of apple warmed over the fire, some 
times a little bread with a slight sip 
of white beer, sometimes a little fresh 
milk. Afterwards,. however, she could not 
take such things for weakness of body ; 
for some years she drank through the 
week half a pint of pure wine, without 
any admixture, which nevertheless later 
for some years it was necessary to mingle 
with water. Sometimes also she would 
eat a little spice of sugar or cinnamon, 



or musk, or grapes. But when she 
could no longer take these eating or 
sucking, she took only water, namely 
half a pint of the water of the Meuse 
a week ; which by a special gift of God 
brought her such sweetness, that it sur 
passed all flavour of wine ; for the which 
she used to give great thanks to God. 
At the same time she received this favour 
from God, that by taste alone she dis 
tinguished between the water of the 
Meuse when the tide was in and when 
the tide was out, when she took the 
cup brought her, with a draught there 
from. 1 For many years there was that 
also which is more to be wondered at, 
that she had no sleep and took no bodily 
food or drink except the body of Christ, 
the sole remedy of all her pains, and a 
most sweet solace, most savoury to her 
above all food. 2 

1 Schiedam is at a sufficient distance from the sea 
to have the Meuse water there usually fresh ; but at 
full moon it would be salty enough when the tide 
was in to make a noticeable difference to the poor 
sufferer who took no other drink 

2 This abstinence from all food was made the 
subject of a rigorous inquiry by the town authorities. 
See Introduction. For the rest, as Huysmans re 
marks, no inquiry could be more critical than that 
which would be provoked in such a case by the 
curiosity or envy of neighbours. 





In this virgin was accomplished what 
is read of blessed Job. " In the night 
my bone is pierced with sorrows; and 
they that feed upon me do not sleep: 
with the multitude of them my gar 
ment is consumed" (Job xxx 17). And 
so with the failure of medical arts and 
of the nourishment of food, her weakness 
daily grew worse. And the maiden 
pitiably afflicted lay upon a hard couch 
and was eaten by worms which, rising 
from her virginal body out of the putre 
faction, consumed her flesh : and never 
theless no stench proceeded from them. 
These worms were of a grey colour full 
of grey water, having black heads, large 
as the thickness of the end of a spindle, 
long as the measure of the small joint 
of a man s finger. 

She had also, disciple of the holy 
Trinity, in her body three large open 
ings, from one of which in the stomach 

the aforesaid worms sometimes flowed 

65 E 


abundantly. To this wound was placed 
a plaster made up of fresh wheat and 
honey, that the g-enerated worms might 
feed on this mixture and other in 
gredients; for else they would have 
eaten her even to death. And when 
these plasters were taken off to be 
changed, there remained on them little 
grey worms with black heads, giving 
forth from them no bad odour, but offer 
ing" a sweet smell to those who beheld 
them. The same virgin then was cor 
rupt in the lower part of the body with a 
permanent and large wound; and that 
her holy bowels might not altogether 
fall out, they closed the opening with 
some soft bandage. 

It happened at that time that the 
famous physician of the Duke of Holland, 
Master Godfrey of Hague, came to visit 
this maiden with the Duchess Margaret, 
to examine the cause of her maladies; 
in order to give the maiden some whole 
some remedy if he could. Who, as was 
permissible and befitting, having seen 
some of the intestines of her stomach 
which were taken from her body and 
placed in a dish, found that the aforesaid 
worms came from the putrefaction of the 
spinal cord of her back ; and that that 



putrefaction was caused by a natural 
consequence, because she ate no salt. 
After which, seeing that he could do no 
good for her, he bade that the intestines 
be replaced again in her stomach. The 
same doctor also remarked, that in a 
short time she would be dropsical. And 
she contracted this dropsy about nine 
teen years before her death, during 
which she took neither food nor drink 
nor sleep. And as she received no 
nourishment, so she voided no natural 

About the year of the Lord, 1412, this 
sacred plant of God, dug about by the 
long hoe of suffering, from the vehe 
mence of her pains vomited by little 
pieces her lung and liver, with several 
intestines, but without any stench, as 
was proved by many. For those who 
touched them with their hands, felt a 
sweetness cling to their hands for nearly 
a day. From the fourteenth year until 
the twenty-first she could nowise move 
or turn herself ; and she lay on her back 
that seven years and after even to death, 
nor could any part of her body move, 
except her head and left arm with the 
shoulder. But when she was moved or 
turned in bed, then it was necessary to 


bind round her shoulders with a cloth 
or soft bandage; otherwise there was 
a danger that she would fall to pieces. 

Very many other maladies also the 
virgin of Christ girded with most cruel 
scourges suffered ; which were inflicted 
upon her not to the loss of her soul, but 
to her greater merit as on holy Job, so 
that afterwards she might be the more 
capable and meet for angelic and 
heavenly consolations, the more dis 
tressed and desolate she lay upon earth. 
She often had excessive headaches even 
unto death, very often manifold tooth 
ache even unto death, divers fevers 
also even unto death, a long dropsy even 
unto death, at the time of pestilence 
three abscesses, a very great stone also 
before death, with which likewise she 
paid the debt of death. All this for very 
many years she suffered most patiently, 
that her soul might be saved for ever, 
and with Christ exult in the delights of 
Paradise. For the more bodily sick 
nesses abounded in her, so much the 
greater grew in her the love, strong as 
death, of God and her neighbour. For 
from the plenitude of her chanty and the 
urgency of her internal fervour, she 
dared in a certain way to provoke the 



Lord to multiply upon her miseries and 
pains. And the Lord hearkening: to her 
prayers, when she had two abscesses in 
her body, added a third on her breast. 
In fine, she suffered from all the common 
infirmities wherewith men are usually 
afflicted, the which she lovingly bore 
with wondrous and unparalleled patience 
for the love of Christ, mindful of all His 
even greater dolours. There was 
scarcely any part of her body which did 
not waste away with some special afflic 
tion of suffering. For on her forehead 
she had a fracture extending to the 
middle of the nose; likewise on the 
lower lip and chin a cleft congealed with 
blood, and because of this malady she 
could hardly speak. Her right eye was 
altogether sightless; and her left re 
mained so weak, that it could make use 
of no material light by day or by night, 
yea even she felt torture from any bright 
ness of light. Wherefore she constantly 
lay in darkness; and a simple curtain 
surrounded and veiled the place of her 
bed, so that seldom was she openly seen 
by men. But yet she very often saw an 
angel of light to the comfort of her ex 
ceeding great torture. 





This rose of Christ suffered long and 
divers fevers, often quartan, often tertian, 
and often daily. Amid which thorns of 
affliction she simply gave up her body to 
the will and chastisement of God to be 
crucified ; at Whose bidding all things 
were ordered unto the good of her soul, 
and much better than any man could 
foreknow or design. And in fact the 
tertian fevers she endured for seventeen 
years and more : which for the salvation 
and redemption of souls, she was will 
ingly ready to bear even to death. The 
attacks of these fevers was as follows. 
For first she felt an indescribable heat, 
which was followed by an indescribable 
cold. Then again the aforesaid heat 
and afterwards the intense cold returned : 
which vicissitudes lasted for nearly half 
the year. But afterwards she would 
have the same fever the other way ; for 
first she was in a great and indescrib 
able cold, and then in an immense heat, 
which lasted until the torture finally 



ceased. But when the fever gave over 
she would be so insensible that, uncon 
scious of herself, she could neither hear 
nor speak. For when she felt the attack 
of the fever she applied herself to exer 
cise of the Lord s Passion, commending 
herself and her sufferings to the Passion 
of Him in Whom all bitter things are 
sweetened. Who often withdrew her by 
excess of mind from corporal things so 
that she noticed neither herself nor 
anything else whatsoever. And during 
this fever, she sent out a certain red 
water from her mouth; and when she 
was questioned whence such matter 
came, seeing that she took neither food 
nor drink, she answered by a question 
thus. "Tell me whence so much sap 
comes in the vine ; which during winter 
seems withered and almost dead?" 
But the virgin of Christ was comforted 
exceedingly in her so weak body by 
taking up a good meditation on God; 
and she was much more refreshed 
thereby than another would have been 
by most costly foods. And if the presence 
of men and her maladies had not hin 
dered her, she would not have wondered 
if on account of the abundance of divine 
grace each month, she had fattened the 


flesh in her body beyond the measure 
of a Hamburg vat. 

Once also before the beginning of the 
fast, while the people were amusing 
themselves in the square near her cell, 
she grieved much over these vanities, 
and prayed God that if it were pleasing 
to Him in her regard, or if He Himself 
wrought those things in her which she 
suffered, He would deign to show her 
this by the sign of a new illness. And 
the Lord, hearing her prayers, gave her 
in one of her legs a fresh troublesome 
disease. With which malady indeed she 
was so grievously afflicted until the next 
Easter, that conscious of her weakness 
she did not dare to beg for a further 
increase of her infirmities. But she was 
wont to say in her daily sicknesses to 
some who constantly assisted her, that 
she was quite willing to bear them for 
forty years ; yea even to the end of the 
world for the conversion of any sinner, 
or for the deliverance of any faithful 
soul from the pains of Purgatory. For 
although she was weighed down by such 
great maladies, she retained the full use 
of her senses, and a quick intelligence 
and memory, so that to many who came 
from distant parts to visit her asking 



advice, she afforded comfort in spiritual 
things as well as healing in bodily needs. 
Many women also labouring in childbirth, 
she relieved by loving compassion and 
the assistance of her counsel. In the 
midst of these divine gifts she was not 
puffed up, nor did she presume loftily 
concerning her future glory, but bowing 
down her heart in humility, she most 
patiently bore all her burdens in charity, 
and feared as if she were to suffer 
Purgatory after this life. But she 
merited such grace with God that the 
holy angels numbered the steps of those 
who visited her for the sake of devotion. 
Wherefore she used to console her 
visitors, who sometimes complained of 
the weariness of their journey ; that they 
should not grieve for their fatigue, 
because God would render them a good 
reward for their toil. 



Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 
commending St. John Baptist amid 



many virtues for his rough raiment 
and abstinence, added also this. " For 
they, that are clothed in soft garments, 
are in the houses of kings" (Matt, 
xi 8). But this virgin was not 
nourished in a royal palace; but in 
her father s house, oppressed by divers 
and grievous maladies, she used for a 
time under the stress of her exceeding 
great weakness a small feather bed, not 
to caress the flesh by softness, but to 
support the weakness of nature a little 
in order that it might serve the spirit. 
But when from the multitude of her 
wounds she could not bear a bed of 
feathers, because the feathers hardened 
by the oozing matter tormented her as 
she lay, the easy bed was taken away 
and for a time she lay upon the bare 
straw; for three years she even rested 
uneasily with her naked back upon a 
hard plank taken from the bottom of a 
bin. Lying therefore upon wretched 
straw, the poor virgin full of sores, the 
sister of the beggar and poor man 
Lazarus, left her bed to the son and 
daughter of her brother for their rest ; 
who day and night by mutual charity in 
turn ministered to her needs. 
About the year of the Lord, 1408, so 



severe a cold reigned through the world 
the whole winter, that in duration and 
bitterness it afflicted men much more 
than usual, and destroyed the plants of 
the earth and the fishes under the 
water. In this most terrible winter the 
sick slave of Christ covered with wounds 
was frequently so frozen from the fear 
ful cold and her nakedness, that her 
limbs became black, and the tears of 
her eyes congealed ; so that she was 
unable to see except by melting them 
with the application of heat. Very 
many other pains also she suffered at 
that time from the presence of the cold, 
such as could scarcely be endured by 
the strong, and if the Author of nature 
had not supernaturally cared for and 
preserved her, she would undoubtedly 
have lost her life. In the accumulation 
of all these so many miseries and needs 
of her own, as a kind mother and loving 
nurse she was ever mindful of other poor, 
taking away from her own necessaries 
in order to aid them in their want. 
However, the rich of this world who live 
in luxury, and exult in much wealth to 
the loss of their souls, were entirely 
forgetful of her, and stretched not a help 
ing hand to the poor sufferer. Many 



also not knowing her holiness despised 
her, and deeming her mad mocked at her 
mental ecstasies. Then was fulfilled in 
her, that which is read of holy Job. " The 
simplicity of the just man is laughed to 
scorn ; and the lamp despised in the 
thoughts of the rich " (Job xii 4, 5). 



It seems very wonderful and almost in 
credible to many, how the weak flesh 
could last in so many sufferings and 
pains, which for so long a time was 
nourished by neither food nor drink nor 
sleep. But if we remember the divine 
power, which makes possible the impos 
sible, [we can understand that] the maid 
was able to bear all things in Him Who 
strengthened her ; for that which is be 
yond nature was brought to pass by the 
work of God. Witnesses are the many 
martyrs and virgins thrown into the 
flames, who by God s ordering and pro 
tection were found not only very patient 
in their torments, but even full of joy ; 
and what is more, they remained un- 



harmed amid blows, swords, and fires. 
The hand of God then is not shortened, 
nor the arm of the Almighty feeble to 
save them that hope in Him; but in 
every place and time the Lord is near 
them that call upon and love Him in 
truth. In this feeble servant of God 
therefore let the work of the Divinity 
be acknowledged, and the weakness of 
man cease to distrust. Which, while 
it depends upon its own opinions for 
natural reasons, very often fails and is 
blinded in its search. For nature must 
needs be silent when the divine speaks ; 
and earthly things yield when the 
things of Heaven are treated. This 
virgin, then, lying so long on the bed of 
pain, was not forgetful of her Creator, 
but mindful of the name of the Lord day 
and night, she gave herself fervently to 
holy meditations and prayers; and 
especially at the time of the Divine 
Office and the celebration of the High 
Mass. Whence how strongly she 
struggled against and overcame sleepi 
ness, is worth the telling and pleasant 
to hear. It is commonly the habit of 
many men, to be more tempted to sleep 
at the time of the Divine Office, whether 
from their own weakness or from the 



suggestion of the devil, who ever strives 
to oppose man s salvation and devout 
prayers. When therefore the scholar 
of Christ, having learnt to pray often, 
felt herself more than usually weighed 
down and tempted by the spirit of torpor 
and drowsiness at the time of the 
Divine Office, although she was wont 
to sleep very little at that period, never 
theless she grieved much within herself 
over this temptation of sloth, and dared 
not yield to it. Her confessor therefore 
fearing that danger threatened her if 
she did not sleep, urged her with a view 
to her health not to resist drowsiness 
any more, but whatever feast might 
come at whatever time or hour to set 
herself to sleep. On a certain Easter 
Sunday, then, when the same temptation 
coming grievously molested her; she 
mindful of the Lord very strongly re 
sisted the drowsiness, according to what 
is written. " Resist the devil and he 
will fly from you." Having then gained 
this one victory over sleep, she was so 
strengthened against it by God, that she 
never slept after that until her death, 
nor was ever tempted with drowsiness. 
For as the holy angels, resisting the first 
temptation of pride, were confirmed in 


grace, and those who consented were 
cast out of Heaven, so to this victorious 
virgin was given the gift of inviolable 
fortitude in many watchings and in 
stripes afflicting her beyond measure; 
by which she was proved as gold is tried 
in a burning furnace (Wisdom iii 6). 



This holy virgin s father, Peter Johns 
above named, although he had come to 
such poverty, that he toilsomely obtained 
the necessaries of life by keeping the 
night watches in the city, nevertheless 
he was so honest and conscientious that 
in his need he was unwilling to spend 
the alms of his daughter, saying that 
they would be the sins of men. There 
fore he wished and he persuaded his 
beloved child, that she would use her 
self what was offered for God s sake, 
and expend it on pious purposes. It 
happened then in the aforesaid severe 
winter, that his limbs were numbed 
in the night watches from the excessive 
cold, and the big toe of the right foot 



was frostbitten. In which case indeed 
the probity of the man is shown ; since 
he chose rather to endure the rigour 
of the cold, and to support himself by the 
labour of watching, than to eat up the 
alms of the poor. For it is written. 
" Thou shalt eat the labour of thy hands : 
blessed art thou and it shall be well 
with thee." 

At the same time Duke William, with 
the Duchess Lady Margaret and a large 
company, entered the city of Schiedam ; 
and noticing the poverty of Peter, a 
most noble man of a military family, 
moved with a pious compassion, out of 
reverence for the holiness of his 
daughter, he bade him ask with con 
fidence from him, as much as he 
thought would suffice for his yearly 
expenses and needs. Who replying 
simply, asked for twelve crowns of 
France. The Duke himself marvelled 
at the modesty of the petitioner, and 
ordered that these crowns should be 
given him every year; declaring that 
he was ready to give double the amount, 
that he might not longer suffer such 
want. And this money was at first 
indeed faithfully paid ; but afterwards 
it was bestowed on him less willingly, 



for the favour of man is quickly ex 
hausted in giving: blessed therefore 
the man who has his treasure in 
Heaven. And receiving this alms from 
the aforesaid Duke William, Peter, not 
elated because of the benefit bestowed 
on him, but grateful to God, constantly 
visited the church, intent on devout 
prayer as best he could, perfectly 
contented with his daily food and a 
moderate raiment. 



And when this devout Peter was so 
weak from old age, that he could 
scarcely walk without falling frequently 
from any slight cause and returning 
home injured, nevertheless he did not 
refrain from visiting the church on 
account of his bruises and falls, but as 
if still possessed of youth, drawn by 
fervent devotion visited the temple of 
God, even against the wish of his 
daughter. For the holy child was 

anxious for her father s safety, more 

81 F 


grieving and fearing for his danger than 
for the scourge of her own disease. 

On one occasion, going out on the 
vigil of Pentecost to hear Vespers, he 
met the devil, who appeared to him in 
the likeness of one he knew, as it 
seemed outwardly. Who, wishing to 
deceive the simple man, suggested that 
they should go for a stroll outside the 
city, alleging that they would return 
in good time for the hour of Vespers. 
And he, not knowing that it was Satan, 
agreed, and they went together beyond 
the city gate to the place called 
Damlaen. Then the devil showing the 
wickedness of his deceit, suddenly 
rushed upon Peter, and before he saw 
or knew, cast him into a ditch and 
disappeared. And as he was there 
beginning to drown and there was no 
one at hand to aid, by divine providence 
a certain carter, an acquaintance of his, 
contrary to his wont came by the same 
way from the country with his waggon, 
wishing to enter the city, and he saw 
Peter lying in the ditch, and quite un 
able to help himself. And being moved 
with compassion he at once drew him 
out of the mud ; and setting the injured 
man upon his cart, brought him back 



safe to the town. And immediately a 
false report unexpectedly assailed the 
ears of all ; as if Peter had been drowned 
and was dead. And this news so 
afflicted the ears of his daughter, that 
she could never afterwards recall that 
vigil without deep anguish because of 
the suffering of her father. For the 
crafty enemy reckoned to cause a great 
catastrophe to the virgin, if he added 
her father s distress to the pain of her 
own wounds. But God, the helper in 
afflictions and the comforter of the 
sorrowful, in a short while turned the 
father s weariness into rest, his grief into 
joy, his poverty into heavenly riches. 
For, consoled by the blessed virgin, he 
was snatched by a speedy and blissful 
end from the troubles of this world and 
the guiles of the devil. 



A few days before the Conception of 
the Blessed Virgin Mary, the devout 



maiden Lydwine, the daughter of Peter, 
foreknew that her father was about to 
pass from this world. For she said that 
she had heard in secret from her father, 
that the Blessed Virgin Mary had 
entered into a pact with him, and had 
promised that she would call him from 
the present world about this festival. 
Which also came to pass as she fore 
told. The most faithful maiden there 
fore warned Master John the priest 
who had come to her for advice ; that 
the same day he should go to Ouderschie 
to celebrate, so that on the morrow 
nothing might be wanting for her 
father s funeral. After these words the 
death of her father took place on the 
vigil of the Conception of the Blessed 
Virgin, according to the vision and 
prophecy revealed before. 

And after his death, although the 
maiden, deprived of the temporal solace 
of her father s presence, had asked and 
had been assured of the salvation of her 
father, the perverse demons, the enemies 
of all the good, sometimes saddened her 
exceedingly, asserting that they had her 
father with them in the state of damna 
tion. Whereupon she commenced to 
weep inconsolably, as if what she had 



heard from the demons were true. 
Whence also when questioned by the 
members of the household why she wept 
so much, she answered, "I know that 
all is very well with my father, and 
nevertheless the demons say that he is 
lost." On one occasion, therefore, when 
she was being conducted by a holy 
angel to the gardens of paradise, the 
demons besetting her path, showed her 
a devil transformed into the likeness of 
her father, mocking and tormenting, 
saying, "Ah, ah, look here, we have 
thy father." Then she, knowing that the 
act of the devil was a vain illusion and 
not the truth, said that this could not be 
her father. And at once they vanished 
as smoke; and the maiden joyously 
continued her journey with the angel 



We must not pass over in silence the 
righteousness and continence of John 



Peters, who was the grandsire of this 
virgin and the parent of her father, to 
the praise of God and to exalt the 
dignity of this good family. This John 
Peters, then, of praiseworthy repute and 
life, after the death of his wife remained 
a widower more than fifty years, until 
he attained the ripe old age of nearly 
ninety. And he practised such conti 
nence and abstinence, that as a solitary 
turtledove and lover of chastity, after the 
death of his wife he never knew woman. 
Moreover, for the preservation of this 
continent life he fasted twice a week on 
bread and water, and once only, to wit 
on Sunday, he took meat at dinner. 
And at his death Satan the malignant 
ensnarer, seeing that he could not 
approach him, set up such a tumult in 
other parts of the house, that the 
earthenware vessels were broken, but 
without any loss or spilling of the butter 
which was kept in one of these jars. 
Nor is it strange if the devil dared beset 
and harm the most faithful servant of 
Christ, who inflicted the annoyance of 
temptations on Christ in His fast ; from 
whom nevertheless he departed van 
quished and put to shame, for the 

fraudulent one was unable to deceive 



the Almighty. And as the holy angels 
after the departure of the temptation 
drew near to Christ, so it is to be 
piously believed that the soul of John 
Peters was guarded by angels, and after 
the death of the flesh blissfully con 
ducted to Christ whom he served in life. 



It seems fitting also to insert in the 
present page the passing away of the 
noble woman Petronilla, the mother of 
this holy virgin, and to associate the 
woman to these noble men in due order 
of virtue. After eight years then had 
passed from the commencement of the 
virgin Lydwine s illness, her mother 
Petronilla, who had been most attentive 
to her ailing daughter, also fell into a 
sickness of the body ; of which, as of one 
of the children of Eve, she died. When 
therefore she was nearing death, and 
giving heed to her imperfection, mourned 
that she had not lived righteously 
enough, she begged of her beloved child 



whom she knew to be pleasing and dear 
to God, that she would aid her when 
departed by her merits and prayers. 
And she, casting- all her thought and 
hope upon the Lord, said that she was 
quite willing to die, renouncing her own 
choice so much, that she would not that 
the smallest little worm should die in 
her stead. Hearing this, the holy and 
faithful daughter, deeply touched, and 
compassionating her mother from her 
heart, urged her with holy words to 
trust in the goodness of God ; so as to 
bear with patience the scourge of the 
Lord and death which none can 
escape. And therefore for her succour 
she most willingly offered her, and 
utterly resigned whatever meritorious 
good she had hitherto gained in the 
exercise of virtue, in toils and the 
endurance of patience. When her 
mother had heard and gratefully 
accepted this, trusting in the mercy of 
God she commended herself into the 
hands of her Creator. And the virgin, 
abiding faithful to her mother through 
all unto death, and considering what 
she had now done, and deeming her 
self as emptied of all her former good 
works, to commence afresh a new pen- 


ance, girded herself with a hair girdle, 
hard and broad, adding new pain to the 
old, that God might be propitious to her 
and to every faithful soul. But after some 
years the virgin girded with the hair 
cloth, when on account of the dropsical 
humours of her body, the first girdle was 
rotted, again with mighty zeal girds 
herself with another new one, and suc 
cessively with many others that were 
laid aside as worn out, until with the 
last she passed from this life. 



After the death of her mother, the 
virgin, mindful of her mother s love, to 
pay the debt of filial affection, did not 
bury the talent entrusted to her in the 
earth; but the few silver ornaments, 
and all the other household utensils left 
by her mother for her use because of her 
pressing need, she sold at a low price ; 
and the sum gained thereby, she so 
generously distributed to the poor, that 
in consoling the wretched she was 



brought to the utmost poverty. Those 
things also which she received from the 
faithful in alms, she passed on so cheer 
fully to the poor, as if she seemed to 
have no thought at all of temporal 
things. Thence from the money she 
had and from what was given for her 
needs, she sent to divers poor persons 
bread, meat, dried fish, and cheeses, and 
a measure of beer with a jug which her 
loving mother had left her ; and if God 
bestowed anything further upon her, 
she faithfully gave it away. And while 
she sent these things by her attendants, 
in the meantime she gave herself to 
the leisure of devout prayers, rendering 
thanks to the giver of all good things, 
who had granted her something for 
the use of the poor. 



On one occasion the brother of this 
virgin, who after his father also kept 
the night watches, set a lighted candle 
near the head of her bed in a high place 



of the corner and went out. And this 
falling- on (the straw burnt a great portion 
of the bed, but she with her face covered 
was engaged in her usual devotion. At 
length coming to herself and opening 
her eyes, she saw herself lying in the 
midst of a fire and no one near to put it 
out; by the help of God with her left 
hand she extinguished all the flame 
without any injury to her hand, to the 
great wonder of all who, coming in the 
morning to her, saw what had happened 
in the burning of the bed while the virgin 
remained unharmed. Nevertheless she 
at that time did not use a bed, but the 
children of her brother did, who were 
devoted in serving her; for she herself 
in her illness lay upon straw. 



The most devout maiden, after the 
manner of other Christians, was wont on 
the Wednesday of the beginning of Lent 
to receive with humble reverence from 



the hand of her confessor blessed ashes 
which he, taking from the church, 
brought with him to sign her. One 
Lent, therefore, on Ash Wednesday, her 
confessor coming in to her, asked her 
whether she wished him to bring ashes 
with him from the church. The virgin 
answered saying, " It may be good that 
you do so. However God has provided 
me with ashes." For the angel of the 
Lord had been with her a little before, 
and had signed her forehead with ashes. 
But that her confessor might be assured 
of this ; taking his hand she placed it 
upon the ashes so that he might touch 
them, and he found that beyond doubt 
it was so. Moreover, that he might 
share in so great a favour, with her per 
mission he brought his forehead in touch 
with hers. The angel of the Lord also 
taught her that those who receive the 
holy ashes should receive them with a 
light and a cross to wit, a burning candle 
with the cross on the penny brought to 
the altar as a sign that they offered 
themselves with the light of faith by 
true subjection and mortification to 
God. 1 

1 The Bollandists remark that they can find no 
trace of the custom here mentioned. 





A certain poor woman afflicted with the 
falling sickness was begging* a drink 
from door to door. And when from 
horror of her infirmity all avoided her 
and shut their doors, the virgin, com 
passionate and shunning no one in 
misery, learning of her sad case, gave 
word that the beggar, who was near 
her house, should be called to her and 
brought in. Coming in then to the 
virgin, she begged the alms of a drink. 
Then the sick virgin, pitying the poor 
beggar, since she had nothing better 
at hand to give her, bade her take the 
cup of wine standing on a shelf and 
drink it. "Take that cup, child," she 
said, "and drink what wine is in it." 
And when, having emptied this, the 
thirsty woman asked for still more, 
the virgin answered that she knew not 
what other drink there would be in 
the house. But that she might not go 
away sad and unsatisfied, she gave her 
a penny to buy a drink therewith at a 



tavern. After this, as evening drew on, 
the virgin s lips became parched with 
thirst. She therefore asked her father, 
who was living at that time, to hand her 
a little wine to refresh the dryness of 
her thirst. He answered, "Certainly," 
and taking the aforesaid cup to fulfil 
his daughter s request, at once he 
spilled over himself the wine which by 
God s will had been placed therein. 
And so for the little which she had 
graciously given to the poor woman 
in her need, she received from God 
wine of a much better sort and in 
greater quantity. And when the father 
told his daughter this, she in wonder 
gave thanks to God from her heart. 
And this wine was red and so well 
tempered, that it was not necessary 
to mingle water with it, as she was 
wont to do with the other. And this 
wine lasted from the feast of St. 
Remigius 1 until the feast of the Con 
ception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 2 
At which time she received a visit from 
a certain good matron named Catherine 
Simons, who was accustomed from a 
special devotion to supply her with 
wine. She, not knowing the mystery of 

1 October ist. 2 December 8th. 



the wine given by God, wishing to 
provide some better and fresh, as 
thinking this wine spoilt from being 
there too long, poured it all out, and thus 
she no longer enjoyed that heavenly 
favour. Nevertheless the virgin told 
her friend, the aforenamed Catherine, 
before she poured out the wine, that 
this wine was quite suitable and 
sufficient for her, and that she had 
never tasted the like before. This sign 
of grace was wrought for her in the 
year of the Lord one thousand and 
four hundred and twelve, while she 
still drank half a pint of wine a week. 



After this, in the year of the Lord 1423, 
the brother of this virgin, William 
Peters, died, and he left after him 
certain debts which his children could 
not pay. When the most compassionate 
virgin learnt this, having sold the 
jewelry left her by her mother s legacy, 
she amassed a sum of eight Holland 



pounds, which she had changed into 
pieces of one coin which she knew 
better, and placed in a purse by her 
side. One day, therefore, towards 
evening" she called Nicholas her kins 
man who was dwelling* with her, and 
sent by his hand to pay her brother s 
debts to all his creditors, where she 
knew that they lived. Having there 
fore paid all the debts which she knew 
were due, she told Nicholas to look 
into the purse, if anything had remained 
in it. Who answered, that most 
certainly much money was left in it. 
At once she bade him count the same. 
And when he had counted, he said 
that he found the first eight pounds, 
and that there was something over. 
Then she forbade him count more, 
and giving thanks to God for His 
wonderful gift, she declared that that 
purse should henceforth be called the 
purse of Jesus, and that from it what 
was needful should be given to the poor. 
From this therefore she distributed 
freely to the needy, when she had not 
other money. But if sometimes she 
had some money either her own or 
received in alms, she would first give 
this, but when she had not any other, 



she gave so generously from this purse 
of Jesus, that little remained in it. 
But the mercy of God Almighty pro 
vided, that always for the use of the 
poor all sufficiency abounded therein, 
as at the word of Elias the cruse of 
oil failed not in the widow s house. 
Sometimes also she handed this money 
to one of her special friends to be 
counted, and when he had counted it a 
second or a third time, he always 
found that it had increased by three, 
or four, or five pieces. Having there 
fore paid her brother s debts from this 
purse, she distributed more than forty 
pounds from the same, as she revealed 
to some of her very familiar friends. 
And by this miracle God made evidently 
known, that [even] an accountant 
might have strong faith in the gifts 
of God which were wrought in her. 



When on one occasion the pious and 
pitiful virgin Lydwine had learnt that 

97 o 


some poor people had not eaten meat 
for a long time because of their want, 
and as she had not at that moment any 
flesh meat to give them, she sent to the 
house of a certain friend, begging him 
to boil a ham and send it to her. 
Which he willingly did, and sent. And 
she divided the meat cooked and pre 
pared into parts, and without delay 
sent it on to the aforesaid poor whom 
she knew to be in need. But the 
almighty and merciful God, Who knows 
the hearts of all and leaves no good 
unrewarded, rendered a swift return to 
the charity of this benefactor even in 
the present. For entering his house, 
and looking up by chance to the pieces 
of meat that were hanging, he saw, 
which is wonderful to relate, in the 
place of the ham taken away and sent 
to the virgin for the refreshment of the 
poor, another hanging better and finer. 
Which many hearing, rendered thanks 
to Almighty God; and thereafter were 
much more devoted to her, willingly 
giving whatever white meats the virgin 
asked of them to feed the poor. 





It likewise happened once in autumn 
that the virgin had a quarter of a heifer, 
which she had bought, salted in the 
fourth part of a barrel, and also half a 
certain measure of peas she procured 
for the need of the poor, wishing with 
these to succour during the winter some 
poor people who lived at home. When 
therefore she had sent of the aforesaid 
meat to nearly thirty-six poor families, 
her messenger returning to her, said 
that he had distributed as much as he 
had first salted in the vessel, and that it 
was still diminished but little. In a like 
manner he had done with the peas; 
which also seemed to be very little 
lessened. Hearing which, the virgin 
considering the great goodness of God, 
and giving thanks to her heavenly 
Provider, said to the messenger : " O 
how great is the power of our Lord God, 
O how willingly we ought to give alms 
to the poor ! " And of the aforesaid meat 



and peas ate also all who were in her 
house. So much had God blessed the 
above food, that when Easter was over 
about a half thereof remained. And all 
the winter she bade them prepare and 
cook a great pot of peas once or twice 
a week, and to give thereof to the poor 
with the aforesaid meat; imitating the 
example of Eliseus the prophet, who 
gave word that a pottage should be 
made ready for the sons of the prophets 
in a pot. And seldom did she send aught 
of this to anyone, but she added a coin 
small or great; if however she could 
have one. But neither did she give 
bread, without adding above some dish 
to be taken with the bread, or money to 
buy some condiment for the food. And 
not only the poor, but the rich also 
when they besought, she succoured from 
charity with her alms. It would be too 
long to recite each instance of what 
with unstinted hand, as she was able to 
possess, she gave to the sick, the weak, 
to men, and to women in childbirth. 





And how pleasing to God were the 
alms of this virgin was revealed to her 
in ecstasy by a certain heavenly vision. 
Whence when she was rapt into Para 
dise she often saw first tables set, and 
covered with cloths of green silk, then 
her alms as if set by the citizens of 
heaven placed upon the same, never 
however lessened at all, but rather 
increased. But the liquor which she 
was wont to give in stone jars, she saw 
there presented in transparent vases as 
it were of crystal, and the dried fish 
given for her departed niece Petronilla 
likewise set. She saw also a glorious 
gathering of the blessed, all in their 
rank in different grades, approach the 
table in due time as if to take refresh 
ment; and the priests holding aloft 
chalices, and the rest according to their 
dignity bearing befitting escutcheons, 
and herself also sometimes assist, and 
serve, or sit down with the guests ; and 
drink given to them that were seated 



and to herself, and all filled with un 
speakable joy and gladness, over such 
great charity shown them by her. If 
ever on those tables she saw nothing of 
her own almsgiving represented, she 
was greatly ashamed, as if all had 
brought their respective portions, but 
she herself had contributed nothing. 
Whence both for the sake of increasing 
the glory of almsgiving, and because of 
the confusion suffered, she made haste 
afterwards to add to her alms. Some 
times, however, the angel her guide led 
her to a certain cell apart and spacious, 
in which he served her her refreshment. 
This refection, even if she felt it to be 
ineffable, nevertheless as much as she 
was able to describe it, she said was 
a certain heavenly and divine light, 
whereby she was divinely refreshed and 
inebriated. Sometimes also by prayers 
she obtained of the angel that she might 
take one of those who were familiar and 
dear to her to taste these things; and 
although seeing in their sleep, they felt 
that something of the kind was happen 
ing to them, nevertheless it was in a 
very different and inferior manner than 
befell herself. 

Here endeth the First Part of the Book. 


Life of Lydwine, Virgin 
Part II 



Having spoken briefly of the many 
diseases and sufferings of this virgin, 
and also of the gracious works of her 
mercy and of certain miraculous deeds 
to the praise of God Almighty; now 
also in due course of her spiritual gifts 
and divine consolations and frequent 
raptures, somewhat must be said and 
humbly related to the edification of the 



Chap. Page 

I. Of the beginning of her spiritual 
consolations through the recollec 
tion of the Lord s Passion . . 109 
II. Of her rapture into the Holy Land, 
and to the sacred places of the city 
of Rome ..... 113 

III. Of the wonderful brightness and 

sweetness appearing in her cell . 116 

IV. Of the vision on Christmas night, 

and the abundance of milk in her 

breasts 118 

V. Of the cypress rod which an angel 

brought her from Paradise . . 121 
VI. Of the bereavement of the angelic 
brightness on account of the pre 
sence of another hiding in her 

cell 125 

VII. Of her rapture to the regions of 
Purgatory, and to the joys of 
Paradise, whence she brought 
back a veil given her by the 
Blessed Virgin . , . .128 



Chap. Page 

VIII. Of the glorious crown prepared for 
her because of the insults and 
wounds inflicted on her by the men 

of Picardy 133 

IX. Of the patience and death of 

Petronilla, this virgin s niece . 140 
X. Of the withdrawal of divine consola 
tion, which the virgin suffered on 
account of her grief for her dead 
niece ...... 143 

XI. Of the devout youth Gerard who had 
become a hermit, and of the pil 
grims who visited him . . . 147 
XII. Of the happy end of Master Werm- 
bold, priest, this virgin s faithful 

friend 153 

XIII. Of her divers raptures and her know 
ledge of the state of certain re 
ligious 157 

XIV. Of the appearance and knowledge of 

the angelic brightness about her . 161 
XV. Of the wonderful manner of her 
interior pain before the rapture of 

her spirit 163 

XVI. Of her spirit of prophecy, whereby 
she revealed to others many hidden 

things 165 

XVII. Of a certain departed sacristan and 

many other dead . . . .167 
XVIII. Of her caution and prudence con 
cerning the revelation of the state 
of the departed . . . .170 
XIX. Of the temptation of a certain man 
delivered by the advice of the virgin 
from the snare of the devil . . 172 


Chap. Page 

XX. Of a woman freed by the merits of 
the blessed Virgin Mary from the 
gulf of despair .... 174 
XXI. Of her grace of great compunction 
and abundant shedding of tears 
in the Communion of the body 

of Christ 176 

XXII. Of her insatiable desire to communi 
cate often, and of the appearance 
of a child crucified .... 179 

XXIII. Of the fever of the child Baldwine, 

and of, Master John her con 
fessor 185 

XXIV. Of her suffering from stone, and her 

foreknowledge before the day of 

her death 187 

XXV. Of the grace on Easter night and the 

prophecy of her death . . . 190 
XXVI. Of her happy death and sufferings 

at the last . . . . . 192 
XXVI I . Of the wonderful placing of her arms, 

and the shrouding of her body . 195 
XXVIII. Of the wonderful beauty and aspect 

of her countenance . . . 199 
XXIX. Of the flocking of visitors to her 

dead body 201 

XXX. Of the stains which she contracted 

from the touch of unclean men . 202 

XXXI. Of her reverential burial . . . 203 

XXXII. Of the miracles after her death . 206 

XXXIII. The narration of three miracles . 206 




As of old through the mouth of the 
holy prophets God spoke His secrets 
to the comfort of His elect, so now 
also He speaks to them by the writ 
ings of the learned, and the examples 
of the good, lest perchance troubled by 
the divers tribulations of the world, or 
torn by scourges, they fall away from 
the hope and expectation of the joys 
to come. For holy David, to whom 
God revealed the hidden things of His 
wisdom (Ps. 1 8), says that he frequently 
received the consolations of God amid 
many adversities. "According to the 
multitude of my sorrows in my heart," 
he saith : " Thy consolations have 
given joy to my soul" (Ps. xciii 19). 
This sentence of Scripture God truly 
and manifestly fulfilled to the letter in 



this holy virgin, whom first He cleansed, 
inebriating by divers pains and bitter 
nesses; but afterwards, amidst the 
bruises of many wounds visiting her, 
He poured in manifold consolations 
and rejoiced her. To repeat therefore 
something of what has been already 
said, after the first three or about four 
years from the beginning of her malady 
the virgin Lydwine was still impatient 
of the divine discipline, and not yet 
freely submissive to God, by Whom 
however nothing is done upon earth 
without cause; and when she saw her 
companions visiting her healthy and 
glad, and herself grievously sick, she 
desired rather health of body with the 
rest, than blessedness of soul through 
the virtue of patience. And because 
she did not yet savour spiritual things, 
and knew not what was more accept 
able to God, therefore sometimes she 
complained, and grieved much over her 
pains, and wept so very bitterly, that 
she would accept comfort from no one. 
Going in to her, therefore, Master John 
Pot her confessor, who was wont to 
communicate her twice a year, strove 
to induce her by his words of consola 
tion to moderate somewhat these tears 



and set a measure to her grief. 
Whence he persuaded her by a gentle 
exhortation to give and conform her 
self to the divine will, and to exercise 
herself in meditating upon the Lord s 
Passion, promising that by the means 
and aid thereof she would easily receive 
good consolation. Asking therefore 
the manner of this holy exercise, 
and having received from the priest 
the method of wholesome meditation, 
when she was desirous of exercising 
herself therein according to the formula 
given her, and did not immediately 
discover thence honey flowing from the 
rock, nor taste therein the bread of 
the prophet : overcome by weariness 
she soon cast aside as bitter absinthe 
that which she had received in her 
heart without fixedly rooting it therein. 
But when the same priest further in 
sisted and urged her most strongly to 
do violence to herself and persevere in 
her beginnings, and overcome her dis 
taste by a pious struggle, she, in 
structed by this excellent advice, easily 
yielded assent to the counsel of her 
priest. And at length the good habit 
of meditating upon God, gained by 
violence, brought her in due course of 



time such sweetness with the aid of 
heavenly grace, that denying herself 
perfectly she freely used to say, that if 
it were possible to recover the full 
health of her body by one Hail Mary, 
nevertheless she would not do it or 
desire it. Truly this was a change of 
the right hand of the Most High 
(Ps. Ixxvi n); Who opened His hand 
to the needy (Prov. xxxi 20), and com 
forted her in her long languishing by 
nights on the bed of her sorrow. For 
drawn and enticed by the hidden sweet 
ness of the Lord s Passion, day and 
night at fixed intervals she used to 
turn over in thought the history of the 
same most sacred Passion divided into 
seven parts, according to the number 
of the Seven Canonical Hours ; and 
finding therein a hidden manna, she 
was filled with the joy of such sweet 
ness, that now not herself but Christ, 
Whose Passion she contemplated, 
seemed to endure what she had hither 
to appeared to suffer in the body. 
Then taught of the Spirit by experi 
ence, she could fully say with Isaias, 
" Verily Thou art a hidden God " (Is. 
xlv 15). And again exclaim: "My 
soul hath desired Thee in the night; 



yea, and with my spirit within me in 
the morning early I will watch to 
Thee" (Is. xxvi 9). 



While then the sick virgin earnestly 
occupied herself every day in exercises 
of the Lord s Passion, sometimes she 
was rapt by a holy angel to the places 
of the Holy Land in which Our Saviour 
by His birth, life, and suffering wrought 
the mysteries of man s redemption. 
When therefore on Mount Calvary, 
where the Lord was crucified, or at the 
other holy places, she was admitted to 
kiss the Lord s cross or His wounds; 
and for the refreshment of her tribula 
tions sucked honey out of the rock, and 
oil from the hardest stone, and attained 
to the embrace of the transfixed feet, 
and to the expiring of her Spouse cruci 
fied for love, then also after the example 
of Him Whom she sought and loved, 
she commended her spirit into His 

113 H 


hands. And although she often passed 
from the wounds of the flesh to pene 
trate the abysmal openings of the 
divinity through the rapture of con 
templation, so that for the abundance 
of spiritual graces and sweetness she 
ceased to feel the sufferings of the body, 
nevertheless she was sometimes afflicted 
by such great fresh maladies, that even 
returning from those sweet kisses of 
the Lord s cross and His wounds she 
brought back certain ulcers imprinted 
upon the lips of her mouth. Which 
indeed by the ordinance of God was 
wrought, so that not only according to 
the multitude of sorrows in her heart 
the divine consolations should rejoice 
her soul within, but that also, according 
to the multitude of the divine consola 
tions, her tribulations and afflictions 
suddenly arising should sadden and 
humble her without ; that thereby openly 
and frequently tried she might know by 
contrary vicissitudes what things she 
had received from God, and what she 
had of herself. Then finally the angel 
said to her: "These ulcers thou hast 
therefore received in thy body, that thou 
mayest know that thou art rapt also in 

the body." 



Another time likewise, when she was 
passing through the aforesaid most 
happy regions, and for the slipperiness of 
the path could not keep her footing, she 
said that she felt in the body a certain 
fall on the right foot, and that she 
suffered pain from that fall and from the 
sprain of the same foot. For from that 
injury she contracted such a swelling 
and blackening and pain in her ankle, 
that even for several days she was 
tormented thereby. 

In a like manner she was once rapt to 
the sacred places of the city of Rome. 
And while she was going between some 
of the chief churches, and was proceed 
ing with outstretched arms between 
shrubs and thorn bushes, from the 
same bushes she received a thorn in her 
fingers and brought it back with her, 
from the pain of which, as from the other 
maladies, she suffered not a little for 
nearly two days. On account of these 
bodily injuries then which thus she 
brought back, she was wont to say, ac 
cording to the word of the angel, that she 
thought she had been rapt in the body 
also. But how these bodily raptures 
took place, the angel himself knew who 
conducted her and bore witness thereof. 


At times our Saviour Jesus Christ, 
surrounded by the heavenly hosts, 
entering her cell as a king with his 
princes, set Himself at table, and seated 
in order around her bed, they most 
fully refreshed her with heavenly meats. 
And what wonder if she needed not 
bodily food, who was now nourished 
with the angels on heavenly dishes, 
as the Saviour Himself answered the 
devil tempting Him over bread: "It 
is written, not in bread alone doth man 
live, but in every word that proceedeth 
from the mouth of God" (Matt, iv 4). 



Apart from her mental illumination, 
over which great men of letters and 
religious, versed in spiritual studies, 
who often spoke with her, and not 
understanding it wondered exceedingly, 
very often by day and night when she 
was visited by the angel, or returned 
from the contemplation of the things 
above, she was discovered by her 



companions to be surrounded by so 
great a divine brightness, that, seeing 
the splendour, struck with exceeding 
fear, they dared not approach nigh to 
her. And although she always lay in 
darkness, and material light was un 
bearable to her eyes, nevertheless the 
divine light was very agreeable to her, 
whereby her cell was often so won- 
drously flooded by night, that to the 
beholders the cell itself appeared full 
of material lamps or fires. Nor is it 
strange if she overflowed even in the 
body with divine brightness, who, ac 
cording to the expression of blessed 
Paul, beholding the glory of the Lord 
with open face, was daily transformed 
into the same image from brightness 
to brightness as by the spirit of the 
Lord (2 Cor. iii 18). And not only 
was she wont to be surrounded by 
divine brightness, but with a wondrous 
sweetness also both herself and her cell 
were found to be redolent, so that those 
who entered thought that divers aro 
matic simples had been brought in and 
scattered there. And this wonderful 
sweetness was perceived when she was 
visited or touched by the Saviour or 

by the angel, or when she returned from 



Heaven or the regions of Paradise. 
Which most sweet odour indeed not 
only breathed upon the scent through 
the nostrils, but redounded also on the 
taste of those who perceived it ; and as 
strong a taste was felt upon the tongue, 
and bit the palate, as if they had eaten 
pepper or cinnamon. Chiefly, however, 
from the hand a fragrance of wondrous 
sweetness went forth when she had 
been led thereby by the holy angel to 
the joys above and thence brought 



A certain widow of good repute, by name 
Catherine, for some time dwelt in the 
house of this virgin. To her once be 
fore the nativity of Christ, it was made 
known by a vision concerning this 
virgin that on the Christmas night then 
at hand the breasts of this virgin would 
be filled with milk, and that Catherine 
herself was to take the same milk. 
When therefore the aforesaid widow 



had recounted this to the virgin, she 
from humility strove in a certain way to 
deny her words. At once the widow re 
proached the virgin that she should dare 
deny what had been revealed to her by 
an angel. Then the virgin, constrained 
by the widow s words, bade her prepare 
herself to share in this grace. When 
therefore she had devoutly prepared 
herself thereunto, according to the 
virgin s warning, she was not defrauded 
of her desire promised her by Heaven. 
For lo ! on the night itself of the most 
sacred birth of the Lord, the virgin 
Lydwine, rapt in spirit, saw an in 
numerable multitude of maidens, at 
the head of whom as queen and mistress 
stood and presided the most holy 
mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, 
among whom also she saw herself 
admitted in the choir of virgins to 
celebrate with joy the birth of Christ. 
By these virgins stood also a multitude 
of holy angels, as most noble clients 
and comrades, offering devout service 
to their friends, the virgins resplendent 
in the virtue of chastity. When there 
fore the hour of the Lord s birth arrived 
wherein the child-bearing Virgin brought 

forth the Christ, the breasts of all 



those virgins, and likewise of this virgin, 
were seen to swell for abundance of 
milk, and to have as much milk as the 
Blessed Virgin received in her virginal 
breasts to suckle Our Saviour when 
she had brought forth Christ into the 
light of the world. Therefore, after the 
manner of the Blessed Virgin, the 
breasts of all the others seemed to be 
filled with milk, as a sign that all those 
virgins were fit and worthy to suckle 
the Lord. But there was, as the virgin 
herself testified, so unspeakable a glory 
there, such as eye hath not seen, nor 
ear heard, nor hath it entered the heart 
of man to conceive, so that all could not 
be expressed by the tongue or written 
by letters. Meanwhile the widow, mind 
ful of the aforesaid promise, comes in 
to the virgin, who, drawing her paps 
with her hand, abounded with such a 
flow of milk that the widow was 
satiated with a triple application of 
her lips, and for many days she re 
mained without any desire to eat. And 
if the virgin had not bidden her, she 
would willingly have foregone bodily 
food. After this also she received the 
same grace and vision through con 
templation two or three other years 



in her sacred breasts; but because 
at the hour assigned no one was present 
to witness it, therefore no one tasted 
of the grace offered. Praised then be 
Christ born of a Virgin, Who, to 
strengthen the faith of believers by 
works, made manifest in our days 
certain stupendous miracles in this 
ailing maiden. 



This virgin in the time of her sickness 
had a certain light twig with which to 
open or close the curtain of her bed, 
wherewith also she was wont to knock 
in case of need and call one of the 
household. It happened, therefore, on 
the occasion of the burning of the city, 
that many things were piled up round 
her bed on account of the threatening 
danger; 1 and thus by the carrying out 

1 See Part II, Chap. XVI. John Brugman in his 
second Life gives fuller details, from which it appears 
that the townspeople, fearing that Lydwine s cottage 
would take fire, stripped off the roof and left only 
the bare walls standing. But then to protect the 



and the bringing back of things this rod 
also was lost, but where it was the 
virgin knew not. Afterwards, however, 
on the night of St. Apollinaris, bishop 
and martyr, 1 when the virgin for the 
intensity of the heat could scarcely draw 
her breath, she sought the rod to open 
the curtain, and found it not. Dis 
tressed therefore, she grieved much 
hereat, for she could not help herself; 
and there was no one else at hand to 
aid her. At once then the angel of the 
Lord appearing consoles her in her sad 
ness, promising to restore another and 
a better rod. And without delay, the 
pain of her fever ceasing shortly after, 
the angel as she felt gently placed a 
stick about four feet long upon her 
breast and retired. And taking it with 
outstretched hand, in a certain sense 
she thought little of it; inasmuch as, 
twisted in appearance and heavy in 
thickness, it was far from the lightness 

weak eyes of the sufferer from the glare of the 
summer sun, they made a roof for her bed with 
planks, drew the curtains, and hurried away to 
save what they could of their burning property. One 
can imagine the suffocating heat from which poor 
Lydwine suffered that terrible day and the follow 
ing night. 
1 July 23rd. 



of the lost rod, nor would it be for her 
so light and manageable. Murmuring 
therefore at this, she said silently to her 
self: " Am I even now well content ?" But 
what should she do, since she was as yet 
unaware of the virtue of the wood ? She 
then asks Master John, her confessor, to 
go over to a carpenter, and ask him 
to shape this stick with a plane to the 
form of a yard measure. The priest 
therefore enters the house of a certain 
artisan, who of his many tools had 
scarcely one plane fit for this work, the 
rest having been already burnt in the 
city fire. And when he had commenced 
to shave the wood, and had set his 
instrument well into it, such an odour 
of sweetness evaporated therefrom, and 
within it was bright with so fair a colour 
after the fashion of wax, that although 
outwardly it seemed ugly, nevertheless 
without hesitation he declared that it 
was cypress. Whereat both wonder 
ing, since the priest could not tell the 
carpenter of what kind was the wood 
or whence it had come to the virgin, 
they eagerly seized upon the shavings 
and other pieces cut off. Then, by the 
advice of the carpenter, the priest went 
with the unpolished wood to another 



better workman, that he might finish 
it off to a nicer shape. But when be 
tween them they remarked in wonder 
the same concerning the odour and 
colour of the unknown wood, and for 
reverence and the strangeness of the 
thing appropriated the pieces cut off, 
the priest in astonishment, not suffering 
the wood to be further lessened, carried 
it back in haste to the virgin. And 
when he had asked her whence it had 
come to her, and of what kind it was, 
she confessed that she did not know its 
species ; but she told the priest how she 
had obtained it. Afterwards, however, 
on the feast of St. Cyriacus, martyr, 1 the 
angel coming back led her as usual to 
the gardens of Paradise, and, reproach 
ing her for her little esteem of the rod, 
very clearly showed its worth and its 
place and the tree whence he had 
broken it. Then, coming back to herself, 
she narrated in order to her confessor 
what she had learnt of the angel, griev 
ing that she had caused it to be cut 
down. When therefore the news of this 
sweet-smelling wood began to be noised 
abroad, and many were wishful to see 
and touch it, and because of it the 

1 Aug. 8th. 



modest virgin suffered many visits, it 
happened that on account of the touch 
of a certain man, 1 the aforesaid wood 
lost the fragrance of its most sweet 
odour. And thereupon the virgin grieved 
that it had been shown to another, 
because of whose contact the heavenly 
odour evaporated. But she was wont 
to say that the devil would be chastised 
by this rod, as she had learnt from the 
holy angel. 2 



On another occasion a kinsman of this 
virgin, Nicholas by name, went in to visit 
her with her confessor, and after they 
had had some conversation the modest 
virgin made known to them that she 
would like to be alone in her cell for two 

1 We learn elsewhere that this man was a 

2 In effect this rod was afterwards found most 
efficacious in exorcising persons possessed. 



or three hours. She asked them there 
fore to go out for a walk for a time, 
hoping that in their absence, on account 
of her interior recollection, she would 
receive some special grace. 1 But in 
particular she asked Nicholas not to 
return before three or four hours. 
While therefore he did as she requested, 
the virgin s confessor without her know 
ledge secretly entered her cell. The 
virgin therefore, thinking that she was 
alone in the secret of her chamber, at 
once began to make herself ready to 
receive the grace of the heavenly spouse 
by devout prayers knocking at the inner 
gates of Heaven. And about half an 
hour after midday the angel of the Lord 
came in to her, flying around the place of 
the bed where the sick maiden lay, but 
he did not draw nearer to her. The 
virgin then, seeing that she could not 
enjoy his gladsome presence, being 
troubled, wept bitterly. She asked the 
angel, therefore, whether she had 

1 This reminds one of what is related by the 
Ven. a Kempis himself. Conversing sometimes with 
the brethren in recreation, he would suddenly break 
off, and with the remark, " Someone awaits me in my 
cell," gently take leave of them to entertain himself 
alone with Jesus. 



offended the Lord by any fault whereby 
she had not deserved to enjoy this grace. 
But he answering, " By no means," said 
he, "but on account of the presence 
of him who is secretly seated in thy cell, 
and strives to examine and experience 
the grace prepared for thee." Having 
said this, the angel departed from her. 
Then the virgin, deprived of so happy a 
solace, was exceedingly saddened, and 
began to weep most bitterly, so that for 
a time she was not rapt in ecstasy, 
although she often enjoyed the grace of 
the angel s visit. 1 Her confessor there 
fore, hearing her weep thus, rising, told 
her that he had been present. And 
learning this, she was the more dis 
tressed than if another had been there, 
because she had so often revealed her 
life to him, so that without any spying 
he might believe the divine grace which 
was wrought in her. When therefore 
she had recovered from this trouble, and 
had regained her peace, the loving and 
compassionate Lord, as He had often 

1 The sense seems to be that, on account of the 
sadness, so intense as not to be without some im 
perfection, to which the servant of God gave way 
on this occasion, for some time afterwards she was 
not favoured by a complete ecstasy. 



done before, so also afterwards raised her 
in ecstasy above herself. Then was ful 
filled in her what is said by the psalmist : 
"Thou hast turned for me my mourning 
into joy : Thou has cut my sackcloth, 
and hast compassed me with gladness " 
(Psalm xxix 12). 



After this she was rapt by the spirit who 
bore her to the regions of Purgatory, 
where, amid others whom she saw in 
manifold and grievous ways tormented, 
she saw also the souls of her friends 
punished, for whose deliverance and 
relief she afterwards cruelly afflicted 
herself in the body. When then she 
had seen with grief these purgatorial 
regions, and very many places of punish 
ment wherein the souls were tortured 
according to the diversity of faults, God 
pitying her, she was led to contemplate 



the joys of eternal life. There indeed 
she saw how God Almighty enjoyed His 
own glory in Himself, according to that 
" I am the first and the last " (Is. xli 4), 
and " I will not give my glory to 
another " (Is. xlii 8) ; she saw also how 
the holy martyrs, confessors, prophets, 
virgins, and other orders of the blessed 
enjoyed their glory in themselves, and 
for overflowing delights were mutually 
transfused into one another. When 
she had gazed upon these joys, many 
saints addressing her sweetly comforted 
her and, exhorting her to patience, spake 
thus : " What trouble or harm is it to 
those who are here now, that in the 
world they suffered many adversities for 
Christ ? " Then the most blessed Virgin 
Mary approached her in great glory, 
and kindly addressing her, questioned 
her, saying : " Why, most dear daughter, 
hast thou come with head uncovered 
and unadorned ? " Then this virgin re 
plied: "Most dear Lady Virgin Mary 
this is the will of the Lord and my God, 
and thus my conductor brought me here." 
After many familiar colloquies then 
of the Mother of God with this virgin, 
the time coming wherein she should 

return to her bodily senses, Christ s 

129 i 


Mother addressed these words to her : 
"Most dear daughter, do manfully, 
and let thy heart be strengthened in 
the bearing of sorrows ; because for 
these things, which thou sufferest now, 
thou shalt gain wondrous and great 
glory." The blessed Virgin also added, 
saying, "Wouldst thou have a veil 
upon thy head ? " She replied : " I 
cannot here have a will of my own." 
When therefore she had looked to her 
angel guide, and he, seeing that she re 
signed her own will, had consented that 
she should accept; "Receive," quoth 
the Blessed Virgin, "this veil upon thy 
head, which cannot be upon earth save 
for seven hours. Give it also into the 
hands of thy confessor; and tell him 
that I require of him to believe the gifts 
of the almighty Son of God, and to place 
this veil upon the head of my image 
which is in the church." After this had 
taken place, the godly virgin returned 
to her bodily senses, exultantly giving 
thanks to God for a consolation so 
joyful. But she was not aware that she 
had received such a veil materially; 
until at length, by the impulse of chance 
or necessity, placing her hand on her 
head she drew down a flower-bearing 



veil ; l which from its most sweet odour 
she recognised as placed on her by the 
hand of the Blessed Virgin, and almost 
until the seventh hour of her return she 
kept it by her. Now this veil was of a 
yellow or golden colour, and of a texture 
hitherto unseen by mortal eyes; and it 
sent forth from itself an odour of 
wondrous sweetness, and therefore as 
long as she could she retained so beauti 
ful and resplendent a veil by her. And 
so before the seventh hour she bade 
them rouse her confessor, and bring him 
to her speedily, having some secret 
things to relate to him. Who coming, 
asked her what she desired. To whom 
the virgin answered, that she had been 
present at a certain feast, and that the 
Blessed Virgin Mary had given her this 
veil, to bring to earth and place in his 
hands; that thereby he might believe 
the gifts of God, and by order of the 
Blessed Virgin receive this veil into his 

1 The word used throughout by the author is 
sertum, strictly, a garland; but other expressions in 
the description apply only to a veil : the key to the 
solution seems given by this clause florigenum sertum, 
signifying a combination of veil and garland such 
as is still the festive head-dress of peasant women 
in the Low Countries. 


hands; and in the morning enter the 
Church which about that time had been 
burnt, and place it upon the head of the 
image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
And when the confessor asked how he 
could enter the church, since it was not 
yet day, and the church would be closed, 
she answered him: "Going quickly, 
ask the sacristan to open the church for 
thee ; for the time presses wherein this 
veil must be carried back thence whence 
I brought it down." Then he: "How 
shall I place the veil upon the head of 
the statue, which is set in so high a 
position ? " The virgin answered : " In 
the great choir and in such a place you 
will find a ladder ; taking it, go up and 
place the veil on the head of the statue 
of the Blessed Virgin." Then he, after 
receiving this sign, going out, asked the 
sacristan to rise quickly and open the 
church. Which when he had willingly 
done, the virgin s confessor finding the 
ladder in the place which she had indi 
cated to him, took it with him to the 
statue and mounted. To whom the 
sacristan : " What do you want there ? " 
The priest replied: "What I do thou 
canst not know now ; but the Lord will 
grant that thou wilt know it hereafter." 
Taking little heed of this answer, the 



sacristan, because he was not aware of 
the mystery, at once departed. But the 
devout confessor fulfilled the virgin s 
desire; and having placed the veil on 
the head of the sacred image, he carried 
back the ladder to its former position. 
When therefore he had prayed on bended 
knees before the statue, and reverently 
adored, and had fulfilled everything that 
had been commanded him, before he 
went forth from the church an angel of 
the Lord carried back the same flower- 
bearing 1 veil to its own place, whence 
the virgin had first brought it down : as 
she afterwards related to the afore 
named widow Catherine. 



Another time also, rapt in the spirit, she 
saw a crown exceeding glorious pre- 

1 Florigerum. 

2 Stipendarii, quosvnlgus HollandiaePicardosvocat, 
writes John Brugman, an expression which points 
to the conclusion that the general term for the 
mercenaries of the Duke of Burgundy was Picardi, 
here translated literally. 



pared for her, which she was to receive 
from the Lord after the toils and sorrows 
of the present life, wherein nevertheless 
there still seemed to be many things 
wanting. Coming back to herself there 
fore, mindful of the crown foreshown 
her, she begged the Lord with much 
urgency that in His compassion He 
would deign so to work with her that 
that crown might be perfectly completed. 
At the same time also she asked of the 
Lord, that in order to follow in His foot 
steps He would bring her to Himself, 
and after this union cast her forth with 
kicks. While she was constantly and 
most earnestly making this prayer, it 
happened in the year of the Lord 1425 
that Philip, Duke of Burgundy, entered 
Holland with a large army of men from 
Picardy and other soldiers, to force the 
states to accept him as the master and 
ruler of the country. When therefore 
the most mighty duke had been received 
with honour in many cities, he came 
at length, about the feast of the holy 
martyrs Gereon and Victor, 1 to the town 
of Schiedam, where he was received in 
like fashion by the citizens. After the 

1 Oct. loth. 


refreshment of dinner, therefore, some, 
as it said, doctors and surgeons of the 
household of the aforesaid duke, ap 
proached Master John Angels the Cure* 
of the Church and asked him to take 
them to the house of this virgin. Who, 
suspecting no ill of them, consented 
to their request. When then he had 
entered with them to the virgin, there 
followed a large body of their retainers, 
who behaved riotously ; and as he strove 
to quell their uproar lest they should 
disturb the servant of God, they, throw 
ing him aside angrily, bade him take 
himself off, uttering disgraceful words 
concerning his relations with her. The 
Cure* therefore remained in her chamber 
standing near the altar, very sad and 
ashamed. Those perverse men, however, 
when they saw that she was lying in 
darkness, took away the curtain, lit a 
candle, and taking off the coverlet 
wherewith the dropsical virgin was 
covered, entirely stripped the holy maid, 
alas ! revering neither God, nor the 
angels, nor the presence of men. This 
when the daughter of her brother, 
Petronilla, a young girl devoted to the 
service of the virgin, beheld, she bore it 
most ill; and on fire with the zeal of 



God, bravely threw herself upon them, 
striving to protect the virgin s modesty. 
For she deemed it unbeseeming that 
the eyes of carnal men should behold 
naked the hidden gem of Christ. Then 
those wicked retainers, forgetful of 
decency, roughly seize upon this child, 
and casting her from them, violently 
dash her against the foot of the altar : 
so much so that most cruelly wounded 
on the thigh she was lame until death. 
Yea, and not satisfied with these evil 
deeds of violence, they hasten to others 
more grievous and criminal. For the 
holy and inviolate maid they dared to call 
a prostitute, they gabbled that she who 
lived abstemious and without food in 
dulged in banquets by night, and one of 
them who held the light called her a beast, 
whom beyond doubt her angel guardian 
often carried off and led to Paradise. 
Amid these so many and outrageous 
words uttered by these impious men, 
they add disgraceful deeds, which the 
eyes of men would shudder to behold. 
For, casting off all shame, with their 
foul hands plucking and pinching the 
maiden feeble and greatly swollen in the 
skin on account of her dropsy, they 
wounded her in three places, from 



which the blood flowed so freely that it 
was necessary to drain off the fresh 
blood from the bed with a bowl. And 
after they had shamelessly committed 
this crime, going out they washed their 
hands of the blood which they had shed ; 
and coming back, instead of the words 
for forgiveness which they should have 
implored, they again loosed their ac 
cursed tongues unto words of outrage. 
And thus was accomplished in this virgin 
what the Lord said to the disciples: 
" If they have persecuted Me they will 
also persecute you, and if they have 
called the good man of the house 
Beelzebub, how much more them of his 
household?" (Jo. xv 20; Matt, x 25). 
Then the virgin, lying as an innocent 
sheep upon her bed, bathed in her own 
blood, ready for the slaughter, patiently 
accepted all this for Christ s sake, and 
to them that insulted and wounded her 
she meekly answered with these words : 
"Why have you not fear to interpret 
the works of the Godhead in me so 
evilly; ye who know not what kind of 
judgment shall be yours from God?" 
The duke departing the same hour, 
those invaders also follow. But the 
magistrates of the city, hearing that such 



enormous injuries had been done to the 
virgin, as if for comfort of the ill done, 
threatened that they would lodge a 
complaint with the duke, that he might 
exercise just vengeance against the 
authors of so great a crime. Then the 
virgin, mild and patient in adversity, 
mindful of the word of the Lord, " Re 
venge to Me, I will repay" (Rom. xii 19), 
absolutely forbade them to wreak human 
vengeance, for God will speedily avenge 
this wrong. Which by the divine will 
quickly came to pass, for they all died 
in different parts the same winter. For 
one of them, who had held the light 1 and 
had uttered insults against the virgin, 
going on board in the harbour by Rotter 
dam, driven as by a violent wind from 
one part of the ship to another, was 
drowned by the prince of darkness and 
drawn out dead with a broken neck : he 
was buried in the cemetery. The second 
going mad near Zerix, lest he should 

1 Thrice the author refers to this matter of holding 
a lighted candle over Lydwine s bed, because of the 
peculiar cruelty of this action, since the virgin s 
sight was so weakened that her one remaining eye 
could endure no material light, Part I, Chap. VII, 
and that it even bled in the presence of such light, 
according to John Brugman. 



injure those who were with him was 
thrown from the ship into a skiff, and, 
taken out dead, was buried in the city. 
The third, a soldier, perished wounded 
in battle. The fourth, who called him 
self a doctor, attacked by apoplexy at 
Slusa, became dumb. Whereupon, re 
minded by his servant of what he had 
done with others against the virgin, and 
asked whether he was sorry for the 
same, showing some sign of repentance 
to his questioner by touch of the hand 
and movements of the mouth, he died. 
And his servant coming afterwards to 
the virgin, with tears besought and 
obtained forgiveness for his master. 
The holy virgin therefore wept long over 
these injuries, not grieving for her 
wounds, but for their perdition and the 
crimes committed. And while the magis 
trates of the city stood near her, the 
virgin foretelling the future said to them, 
"I indeed have now suffered these 
things, but a judgment threatens you 
of which you are unaware." And not 
long after when some of them, charged 
as betrayers of the city, feared to be 
punished by the duke with death, they 
said: "Lo this is the judgment which 
Lydia foretold would befall us." After 



this the holy angel of the Lord, appear 
ing to her and calling her sister, made 
known, that by the shameless violence 
done her by the men of Picardy she had 
been set in the footsteps of the Saviour 
as she had before besought, and by the 
outrageous words which she had heard 
from them, the jewels which remained 
were now completely finished in her 



It is now befitting to relate something 
also of the maiden Petronilla, this holy 
virgin s niece. This young maid then 
of seventeen years of age was the 
daughter of the virgin Lydia s brother, 
a lover and guardian of perpetual 
chastity, taking care of her aunt day 
and night in the so grievous trouble 
of a long sickness. In the flesh a 
relative, in the spirit a sister, by service 
a handmaiden, she chose to serve the 
virgin as a virgin, and with chaste 
attentions to soothe most lovingly the 
pains of the sufferer. In the persecu- 



tion of the men of Picardy, who most 
grievously wounded holy Lydia, the 
virgin pleasing to God, thereby to be 
crowned with more ample glory, with 
all her strength, as was said above, 
she set herself for the defence of her 
ailing aunt, that they might not harm 
the innocent one. For she grieved 
exceedingly with her who was injured, 
and hearing many grievous insults and 
threats, received and endured bodily 
wounds also from the men of Picardy, 
so that after ailing a long time she died 
of her injury. A few days before her 
death Lydia, set in great tribulation 
and from persecution rendered more 
fervent towards God, had the following 
vision, a true presage of what was to 
come. For on a certain night being 
in an ecstasy she saw a solemn pro 
cession of the heavenly citizens, wherein 
they each proceeded in distinct orders, 
to wit, the patriarchs together, the 
prophets together, the apostles with 
the apostles, but also the martyrs, 
confessors and virgins, and priests and 
clerics each shone in the rank and 
dignity of his state. And they pro 
ceeded from the church of the town of 
Schiedam, preceded as usual by crosses 



and lights burning more brightly than 
the sun, and they came to the door 
of her house, from which taking a 
coffin they bore it to the church. And 
the virgin herself followed the bier with 
crowns which had been given her, of 
which she bore one on her head, the 
others one in each hand. Coming 
back to herself therefore, she suspected 
that her own death was foreshadowed 
by this vision, but at length she said 
that it signified the death of her niece 
Petronilla. Whereupon the virgin of 
Christ, fearful concerning the passing 
away of her niece, urgently besought 
the Lord that He would so order her 
fevers that she might be able to speak 
to Petronilla for her comfort before 
her departure, for she loved her ex 
ceedingly with a sincere love. And 
the Lord, hearing her prayers and 
groanings and in pity for the one who 
was about to die, forestalled the time 
of the daily fever by the space of about 
six hours, to the surprise of many who 
were there, and thus the heat of the 
fever being cooled, she recovered power 
to speak with and console Petronilla, 
who was shortly to pass from the 
struggle of this world to Christ. Having 



received then divine comfort from the 
holy virgin, the maid Petronilla, after 
being often tried in anguish, as she 
was the companion of the sufferings 
of Lydia in life, so also she merited 
to be the sharer of her comfort in 
death. Therefore after the vision shown 
before, and having gratefully received 
consolation from her most dear aunt, 
the devout virgin of Christ, Petronilla 
departed to enter the heavenly court, 
in the year of the Lord one thousand 
four hundred and twenty-six, on the 
nineteenth of the Kalends of February, 
the feast of St. Pontianus, martyr. 1 



After the death then of the most chaste 
dove the maiden Petronilla, the holy 
virgin Lydwine herself, bereaved of the 
companionship of so faithful and neces- 

1 Jan. 1 4th. This Saint is distinct from St. 
Pontianus, Pope and Martyr, whose feast is 
celebrated Nov. iQth. 



sary a helpmate, fell into a hurtful sad 
ness, grieving too much for the loss of her 
most cordial lover Petronilla, with whom 
bound by mutual love, she had kept 
a compact of inviolable chastity. For, 
loving one another in the love of Christ, 
they lived together in such union and 
peace that they could not be separated 
from one another without grievous 
sorrow. Which fond union indeed, ex 
ceeding the bounds of discretion, was 
even so displeasing to the Lord that, in 
vengeance for this undue sadness, the 
grief-stricken virgin was left without 
divine consolation until the feast of the 
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 1 
She wept therefore most bitterly, not 
only for the death of her lost niece, but 
more for the bereavement of her wonted 
grace withdrawn from her on account 
of the want of measure in her grief. And 
so to those who asked the cause of 
these tears, she answered her friends: 
"Why should I not weep, most dear 
ones ? Lo ! now for the last eleven years 
I have asked nothing of the Lord, but 
I have been able easily to obtain it ; but 
now in suspense for so long a time, I 
receive no consolation at all, by a secret 

1 July 2nd. 


and righteous judgment of God given 
forth against me." O terrible and un 
searchable dispensation of God over the 
sons of men ! Who turneth the sea into 
dry land and rose blossoms into ab 
sinthe, and from the right setteth on 
the left, humbling the exalted even to 
the earth. If, then, the Lord afflicted a 
virgin so tenderly loved by Him because 
she bewailed too intensely the lost pre 
sence of her faithful niece, how severely 
are those to be punished who foolishly 
lament for carnal friends and worldly 
companions. However, the Father of 
mercies and the God of all consolation 
was not unmindful of the tears of His 
servant Whom He had chosen from 
eternity, but after most bitter sorrow 
He restored to her the most sweet com 
fort of the Holy Ghost so often tasted 
in the times past. Therefore the virgin, 
desolate for a time and chastised by her 
Father, about the feast of the Visitation 
of the Blessed Mary, Virgin, received 
a wondrous and superabundant consola 
tion of divine grace, continuing for nine 
or almost ten days in constant contem 
plation and savour of things divine and 
exultation of mind ; and with such great 
sweetness was she bathed within that 

145 K 


those who visited her marvelled, and 
perceived the scent of a most sweet 
odour without. When then they ques 
tioned whence came an odour of such 
sweetness, she, desirous out of humility 
rather to be silent than to reveal the 
secret, at length overcome by their 
importunate prayers because the Lord 
had made this known outwardly by 
manifest signs, answered that the grace 
of so inestimable an odour came from 
the heavenly courts, which grace, as 
she had merited habitually of old, so 
now also having been visited afresh, she 
brought back with her. In a like manner 
a few years before, at the death of her 
brother William Peters, she fell into a 
great sadness and became so heavy with 
grief that she said she had not known 
hitherto that she was still so human. 
Wherefore also a long time she was 
bereaved of her wonted nourishment of 
divine consolation, as was revealed to 
a certain devout solitary in the country 
of Egypt who had bravely entered the 
desert by her advice. Of whose holy 
life, well commenced and happily con 
summated, is narrated in the following 
chapter that which may give joy to hear. 





There was a certain youth, by name 
Gerard, a native of the diocese of 
Cologne, urged by the desire of a soli 
tary life. Hearing the repute of this 
holy virgin, he resolved to come to her 
first to unfold to her in person his 
purpose, and commend to her prayers 
the difficult path which he was about to 
enter, that by the aid of divine grace he 
might accomplish with saving persever 
ance the resolution which he had con 
ceived in his mind. And coming to her, 
he made known to her the secrets of his 
heart. And she, piously rejoicing in his 
purpose, with prophetic spirit foretold 
that for the first three days of his entry 
into the wilderness he should suffer 
want, and then, urging him to constancy, 
she foretold that after the end of the 
third day he should receive refreshment 
from God. Which indeed afterwards 
came to pass in order. For on the 



evening of the third day he received a 
heavenly manna, God taking pity upon 
his toilsome way. But the three days 
foretold him by the virgin he went 
through with such constancy that he 
was ready, on account of her promise, to 
pass them even with danger of his life. 
After mutual conference then and recom 
mendation in prayer and the compact of 
fraternal charity, the new recruit, enter 
ing upon the wars of a new combat, 
went forth from the presence of the 
virgin wisely instructed, henceforth 
never again to see his country and 
kinsfolk. Having wandered therefore 
through the northern parts, he enters 
upper Egypt, and, penetrating its 
deserts, he finds a cell set in a tree 
because of the wolves and ferocity of 
the wild beasts. And he had brought 
with him two companions, touched by 
the grace of the same solitary manner of 
life, who after a few days spent there 
returned, alas ! to the former things ; 
but Gerard, most constantly persevering 
in the purpose he had undertaken, with 
Christ as leader climbed the heights of 
contemplation. And so after nearly 
seventeen years passed in this vast 

solitude, it happened meanwhile that a 



certain bishop from the country of 
England came with two companions to 
visit the places of the Holy Land, and 
then went on with them to see the relics 
of St. Catherine, virgin and martyr, on 
Mount Sinai. Who, united by like 
devotion, mindful of the life of the holy 
fathers in Egypt, entered that land to 
seek whether perchance they should 
find any fathers of the hermit life. And 
when wandering hither and thither they 
had come even to its upper parts, they 
find a little cell built in a tree not far 
from the ground. And knocking at its 
door, they see in the door opened to 
them a man of angelic countenance 
indeed, but of body so stout that he 
would be deemed as one not mortified in 
the desert but brought up amid the 
luxuries of the world. When then they 
asked whence he lived, he answered 
that he was nourished by the grace of 
God alone. For he was wont to gather 
and eat the heavenly manna, which of 
old the children of Israel fed upon in 
the desert, which, coming down upon 
his cell from above, he took with giving 
of thanks. They asked also of him 
whether there were still found other men 
who lived without human food as also 



himself, to whom he replied thus : " In 
the country of Holland, in the city of 
Schiedam, there is a certain virgin, for 
many years divinely scourged by divers 
infirmities, who makes use of no bodily 
food, who also has arrived at such a 
height of perfection that she is long 
ahead of me a hundredfold in holiness 
of life and sublimity of contemplation. 
Whence also I much wonder, since I 
hear nothing of her passing away, what 
has happened her, because for long I 
have not seen her on the ladder of 
contemplation, while formerly we were 
frequently wont to be rapt together to 
the heavenly secrets, each on a separate 
ladder. For she, as by merit of life so 
also by excellence of contemplation, was 
wont to rise above me." Then this 
devout hermit asked the aforesaid 
pilgrims to visit this virgin in Holland 
before they returned to their own parts, 
and from his mouth put her these three 
questions. First, how many years he 
had passed in the desert; secondly, of 
what age he was then when he entered 
the wilderness ; thirdly, what reason had 
befallen her that for long he had not 
seen her in the wonted contemplation. 
After this the pilgrims, much consoled 


and edified, bidding the hermit farewell, 
returned to Holland and Schiedam. 
Having entered, therefore, an inn of the 
town, they ask their host to lead them 
to the virgin s house. And set in her 
presence, they make known the cause 
of their coming and the person of the 
hermit who had sent them, begging that 
she reply to the questions put her. But 
she, preferring to lie hidden through 
humility than openly answer the ques 
tions, gave only this response to her 
questioners, as regards the time of the 
dwelling of the hermit in the solitude : 
" How could I know that ? It is the 
Lord who knows." Then they, as re 
proving her, object, why should she wish 
to conceal the truth, since they asked 
these things not of themselves but from 
the mouth of the hermit. She answered, 
therefore, that he had passed almost 
seventeen years in the solitude. To the 
second, however, she said that he was 
nineteen years of age when he set out 
for the desert. To the third also she 
replied that she, living in the midst of 
men, was stained in divers ways, but 
that he, separated from men and living 
with the angels, kept his purity un 
touched. " Therefore it is not strange 


if he excels me in the height of contem 
plation." It is also said that the hermit 
assigned the reason of the withdrawal 
of grace in the virgin that she was 
wont to grieve too much for the death of 
her relatives. Which happened at the 
death of her brother, who had passed 
away in Schiedam about the same time 
as the above was related to these pilgrims 
by the hermit in Egypt. But the same 
most devout hermit of happy memory, a 
perfect despiser of earthly things and a 
sublime contemplator of heavenly secrets, 
passed away in the year of the Lord s 
Incarnation, one thousand four hundred 
and twenty-six, the twelfth day of the 
month of October. His death and pass 
ing to glory were revealed to the holy 
virgin by a vision. For, rapt into Para 
dise at the hour of his passing, she saw 
his soul, freed of the body, borne by 
angels to Paradise, and washed in a 
fountain so limpid that she seemed to 
be able to see its depth for nearly a 





Among- many devout fathers and men 
versed in spiritual grace, at Utrecht 
in the days of the venerable lord bishop 
Frederick, was a certain priest of 
chaste life and zealous for souls, by 
name Wermbold, beloved of God and 
men, and known far and wide to many 
religious in the diocese of Utrecht and 
in the country of Holland. He was a 
native of a certain town of Holland 
near Goudam, and for many years he 
shone as director and confessor of the 
Sisters of the Third Order at St. Cecily 
in Utrecht. Who, deeply versed in the 
divine scriptures, often preached the 
word of God in the church, and, fervently 
watching in prayers and devout medita 
tions for the purity of his heart he 
merited also to be visited from on high 
by frequent consolations and divine 
revelations. To the knowledge of this 
so famous a father, not by human 
information but by divine revelation, 



the holy virgin Lydwine, still living in 
poverty in a poor hut, attained in this 
manner. For when on the feast of the 
Lord s Annunciation 1 the aforesaid 
virgin, having completed barely half 
her illness, was rapt to contemplate the 
things of Heaven, it happened also 
that the most devout priest of Christ, 
Wermbold, was likewise raised at the 
same hour to behold heavenly things; 
and then from having this one and 
like contemplation, they both com 
menced divinely that mutual acquain 
tance which they had not had before. 
Wherefore the same venerable father, 
urged by an affection of pious devotion, 
wished to know also and see with the 
eyes of the body the servant of God, 
whom he had known already in the 
spirit. Coming in, therefore, to her 
little house where she lay sick, and 
beholding her misery wherewith she 
was burdened, as the Samaritan in 
the gospel he was moved with com 
passion towards her, and wounded to 
the heart with the arrow of pity. And 
without delay, after holy converse on 
God, he stretched out his hands to 

1 Lady Day is thus named elsewhere also in the 
writings of the Windesheimers. 



works of charity. And first he gave her 
about thirty groats of Flanders to buy 
two linen coverings. Then the priest, 
set on fire with the spirit of God, 
entered the church, and, mounting the 
pulpit, made a discourse to the people, 
in which with harsh reproaches he 
chastised them as they deserved for 
their niggardliness and want of mercy, 
inasmuch as they did not succour 
God s ailing creature who was lying 
in such want and pain. And justly 
indeed did the eloquent priest speak 
with severity for the zeal of God, for 
tried virtue reproves the foolish. After 
wards, however, many moved to mercy 
by the inspiration of God, with a 
generous heart bestowed their alms 
on the holy virgin. This reverend 
father therefore, among other discourses 
of charity with the sick virgin, who then 
had accomplished about a half of her 
diseases, began to say to her that 
before Easter a revelation had somehow 
been made to him as if he were to 
pass to the Father before this Easter. 
To whom the virgin replied, that he 
would have to wait until the next 
Pentecost, and that again after Easter 
he should visit her. And how true 



was this saying the issue of the affair 
proved. For he died shortly after these 
words in the year of the Lord 1413, 
on the vigil of Pentecost, at the twelfth 
hour of midnight, on the third of the 
Ides of June, on which day was kept 
the feast of St. Barnabas, apostle. 1 
And being dead, the devout and com 
passionate father Wermbold was de 
tained from the sight of the glory of 
the divine countenance for nearly nine 
days, as was divinely revealed to this 
virgin. But when this venerable father 
was speaking with the virgin before 
his death, paternally consoling her, 
and when she complained somewhat 
that she was much burdened by the 
number of her infirmities, the priest 
responded, encouraging her to bear 
more and, as it were, foretelling that 
it would be necessary for her to em 
brace still greater endurance, inasmuch 
as perhaps she had barely fulfilled 
half the term of her sufferings. And 
this so befell as he foretold. For he 
said that she had set in Heaven a 
foundation very broad and wide, and 
that the superstructure to be built 
thereon could not be perfected in a 

1 June nth. 


short while. And the virgin lived after 
the death of this dear father twenty 
years in the great pains and many 
sufferings foretold her, whom God 
nevertheless consoled and strengthened 
with frequent raptures by the inspira 
tion of the Holy Ghost and the visit of 
heavenly citizens. 



And so this virgin, feeble in body, fervent 
in spirit, was very often rapt into 
ecstasy by excess of mind ; but in her 
rapture it was not rara hora et brevis 
mora (rare hour and brief delay). Once 
a certain religious questioned her con 
cerning her state and patience in her 
afflictions which she endured daily. 
To whom she replied that she was 
burdened very excessively and above 
her strength, and that, unless the loving 
Lord supported her with the staff of 
consolation, she might easily faint away 
under the weight of her sorrows. For 
she said that by the influx of the divine 



mercy almost every night for a long 
period of one hour or more she was rapt 
to behold things heavenly, by the de 
light of which she was so refreshed that 
all torment, even the most bitter, was 
rendered for her not only bearable but 
even pleasant. She was also rapt to the 
regions of Purgatory and to the tortures 
of Hell, that, seeing these horrible 
punishments, she might more easily 
endure present scourgings, and by in 
terior compassion might willingly do 
penance for those who needed deliver 
ance. In these and the like blissful 
raptures, for nearly thirty-four years 
lying on a bed of pain, she was visited 
and strengthened in spirit ; but at times 
she was deprived of the divine raptures, 
as has been said, from certain causes. 
Finally, in His many dealings by contrary 
events, God trying her often humiliated 
her, and frequently visiting her raised 
her the higher. By occasion therefore 
of these raptures she knew many 
churches and monasteries of religious 
and the arrangement of places and the 
building of churches ; religious persons 
also, whom she had never seen, she 
knew by name, and what divinely befell 
them she sometimes narrated to others. 



She had said once to a certain Prior 
that she knew his monastery and church 
just as he did, and that at night while 
the brethren were sleeping she was 
wont to visit their dormitory, and that 
she used to see holy angels standing by 
the beds of the brethren. 1 

There was a certain youth, Henry by 
name, born at Hague, a town of the 
duchy of Holland, whom the virgin had 
never seen before, who, inspired by the 
grace of God, without the knowledge of 
his parents sought and obtained the 
habit of holy religion in the parts of 
Brabant near Diest. Whose father, 
named William, knowing not what had 
happened his son, came to the virgin 
perhaps to ask some questions. Who, 
at once addressed by her in his own name 
and surname, heard the virgin wishing 
all prosperity to his son, and rejoicing 
over the good things done to him by 
God. Whereupon he, wondering, de 
manded the reason of these congratula- 

1 We learn from Brugman that this monastery 
was St. Elizabeth s of Briel, for the canons of which 
Ven. Thomas a Kempis compiled this Life. The 
community was incorporated into the Congregation 
of Windesheim by the general chapter of 1406 
(CJiron. Wind., Lib. II, c. 39). 



tions. And she, adding joyous tidings to 
his astonishment replied that he had 
been clothed in the habit of holy religion 
in the aforesaid monastery. 

There was also another religious, born 
at Dordrecht, but professed as a regular 
in Eymsteyn, who once entered the 
virgin s cell silently to visit her, whom 
she, calling by his own name, very 
graciously greeted. And although per 
haps she had seen him once before, at 
that moment certainly she did not see 
him bodily. 1 Whereat also he, being 
astounded, asked whence she thus knew 
him, to whom she replying simply said, 
"The Lord hath granted." Let these 
two examples be enough for the moment. 
Brother Hugh, formerly Subprior in 
Briel, heard them from the mouth of 
those to whom they personally happened, 
and he remains as a witness of their 

1 The reader must remember again that the 
servant of God had entirely lost the use of one eye 
and almost entirely of the other, and that she 
habitually lay in darkness. 





Clearly in this most approved virgin 
was fulfilled that which of old the Lord 
said to Moses and the children of Israel 
entering the land of promise. " Behold 
I will send my angel who will go before 
thee and keep thee ever, and be the 
guide of thy way" (Exod. xxiii 20). We 
read in many books of the saints of the 
appearance of angels, and now the like 
can be proved in this lowly virgin Lydia 
from the testimony of many religious. 
For she was visited most frequently by 
a holy angel; by whom also she was 
touched as worthy of his companionship 
and trusting in his protection, whom 
she knew as personally as a friend 
knows his friend. Likewise she knew 
also the angels of her confessors, and of 
others her acquaintance, and of many 
outsiders. And the same angel appeared 
to her under different forms : sometimes 
in the shape of a most beautiful man, 
always, however, with great brightness, 

as an angel of light, the minister and 

161 L 


standard-bearer of eternal light. Some 
times, however, that brightness was so 
great that if a thousand suns together 
shone in their might, yet they would not 
be able to equal this angelic splendour. 
At times however he appeared less 
bright, but always he bore the standard 
of the Lord s cross upon his forehead, 
lest perchance she should be deceived 
by an angel of Satan, who, transfiguring 
himself into an angel of light, often 
appeared to her. If however on account 
of the frequency of visitors she was 
sometimes disturbed, or on account of 
the presence or contact of some unclean 
persons her purity was stained, lest 
this slight fault should remain long on 
the white fleece, or pass unpunished, 
she was deprived of the aforesaid angelic 
visits and divine raptures. Sometimes 
also she was burdened in her conscience 
with certain spiritual defects known 
only to God and the angels : by reason 
of these scrupulously chastised she was 
also hindered from her wonted raptures. 
Whereupon, bruised in the mortar of 
her heart, she was wont to confess to 
the holy angel her guide; and thus 
cleansed by a humble confession, she 
hastened to follow him as he went 



before to the places whither he led. 
She was also taught by the same holy 
angel what she ought to confess to 
him and what to her confessor, for she 
confessed her excesses daily, according 
to that word of the psalmist: "I said 
I will confess against myself my injustice 
to the Lord, and Thou hast forgiven 
the wickedness of my sin " (Ps. xxxi 5). 



In that to us indescribable separation of 
the spirit from the soul, before the holy 
virgin was rapt out of herself, at first 
she felt such anguish in the vital parts 
of the breast and heart that, scarcely 
able to breathe, she thought she was 
about to die. But afterwards in these 
spiritual raptures, accustomed by habit 
she did not suffer so much pain. When 
therefore she was rapt in spirit to the 
aforesaid places, her body remained as 
dead and soulless upon the bed, so im 
movable that if anyone had touched it 
she would not have felt anything. Some- 



thing similar is read in the life of St. 
Thomas of Aquin, so that no one should 
doubt of the truth of the novelty in this 
virgin, whom God rejoiced by His in 
effable raptures. 

It happened therefore in a certain 
rapture, that the angel having taken her 
hand led her to the altar of the chapel 
of the Blessed Virgin in the church of 
Schiedam. And when she had prayed 
there, devoutly greeting the Blessed 
Virgin, the angel led her towards the 
west by pleasant places of roses and 
lilies, and set with every kind of flowers 
and covered with spices. Approaching 
therefore these places, she was invited 
by the angel to enter but for reverence 
thereof she dared not enter, lest she 
should tread the flowery meadows with 
her feet. At length when the angel 
assured her that they would not be 
downtrodden by her, entering according 
to his counsel and invitation, she followed 
him whithersoever he went before. But 
at times those flowers were of such a 
height and density that she said she 
could not pass through them ; and then 
the angel carried her over as of old 
Habacuc the prophet, so that lifting her 
he speedily carried her across with con- 



fidence through those flowers to the 
place whither they wended. 



And it is certain that this virgin also 
knew many secrets concerning both 
the living and the dead, of which some 
she made known for the profit and 
comfort of her friends, but many she 
humbly kept back in silence. For 
instance she is believed to have long 
before foreknown the fire of the city 
of Schiedam, because before it happened 
she had ordered a store of planks to 
be set against the wall of her house. 
To those who asked why she did this 
she said, because if the fire broke out 
then they could more easily, having 
removed the planks, carry her out and 
bear her across the moat. 1 

1 i.e. the little canal, or ditch that ran round the 
house. Another, and as it seems the true reason is 
given in Brugman s second Life for this storing of 
planks, viz. that a rough shelter might be made 
near her house for some of those who should be 
rendered homeless by the fire. 



It happened then in the year of the 
Lord 1428 that certain sailors of Schie 
dam, before setting out for the fishing, 
carefully made ready a great supper 
for their comrades and friends to bid 
them farewell on the feast of St. 
Arnulph, bishop and confessor, rejoicing 
indeed in present prosperity, fearing 
nothing of the evils to come. When 
therefore, having finished their supper, 
they had covered the fire under a vessel 
near a wall of reed, then lo ! about the 
eleventh hour of the night gradually 
a fire breaks out, which, raging for the 
rest of the night, made such way that 
nearly the whole city with the church 
and the house of the sisters near the 
church was burnt. When this had 
come to pass, very many men of that 
city held it for certain that this great 
fire had befallen because of the sins of 
certain individuals, who amongst other 
crimes had shown irreverence to the 
aforesaid image of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary. Among whom was a woman 
worldly and unrestrained, following 
the broad paths of this world with the 
dissolute. After whose death a certain 
priest well known to this virgin asked 
her to pray for him, that he might have 



some certain knowledge of the state 
of the dead woman. And when the 
virgin agreed and did accordingly, the 
same priest, in a vision of the night 
rapt to the infernal regions, saw that 
the aforesaid woman was held bound 
with iron chains in hell, which also he 
related to this virgin with wonder and 



There was a certain sacristan Baldwine 
by name, in the town formerly called 
Oudershie, who falling sick died on the 
night of the Conversion of St. Paul, 1 and 
whose name this virgin did not know 
before. But the same night the virgin, 
absorbed in prayer, rapt as usual from 
her senses, came to a certain mountain, 
at the foot of which she saw a man then 
unknown to her wishing to climb the 
mount, but for weakness not able. And 
when according to his request placing 
him on her shoulders she had carried 
him up, wondering at his weight she 

1 Jan. 25th. 


asked by what name he was called. 
Who answering said, " Baldwine de 
Velde." The next morning Master 
John the virgin s confessor, entering 
her cell, found her breathing heavily 
as from weariness of a great labour 
and from fatigue scarcely able to draw 
her breath. The priest therefore asked 
the cause of this distress and weariness. 
And she explained in order the thing 
shown in the vision, and told the name 
of the man before unknown that he 
was called Baldwine. Whereat won 
dering, that priest recalled to mind the 
sacristan at Oudershie, who was called 
Baldwine, but his surname he did not 
know. After two days the same priest 
came to that town to celebrate, asking 
a certain woman about the condition 
and surname of the same sacristan, 
who gave his surname as it was 
revealed to the virgin, declaring like 
wise that he died on the same night 
on which the virgin had carried him 
from the foot of the mountain to the 

Another time also, rapt as usual, she 
came by a certain mountain and she 
saw divers persons wandering in 

different ways, some at the foot of the 



mount, others struggling higher up, 
and some standing on a more lofty 
part of the mount, wishing indeed to 
climb the mountain itself but unable 
and not having either any assistance 
to aid them. The virgin therefore 
understood what these things signified, 
that they were souls of the departed 
who needed prayers. 

And when some of the solemn 
festivals were at hand, for some days 
before those feasts she would be rapt 
to the regions of Purgatory, to see the 
miseries of the afflicted who needed 
help and were unable to assist them 
selves, that she might faithfully pray 
the Lord for them, who, tormented 
with most grievous pains, were forced 
to cry out with Blessed Job, "Have 
pity on me, have pity on me, at least you 
my friends, for the hand of the Lord 
hath touched me" (Job. xix 21). 
Returning to herself, therefore, when 
she had willingly borne her daily fevers 
for their deliverance and most bitterly 
wept imploring urgently the divine 
mercy, again in rapture on the feasts 
themselves she exulted with such 
great gladness over their redemption, 
which she learnt, that she could 



scarcely hold herself in for joy. And 
although on other days she often 
liberated great numbers, still on the 
chief festivals by the favour of God 
she delivered many more and in greater 
abundance. But she so bitterly grieved 
over their sufferings and frequently 
wept that, natural tears failing in her, 
tears of blood succeeded, which, con 
gealed in course of time upon her 
cheeks, her confessor scraped off, 
softening them with the natural tears 
that flowed, and placing them in a 
bag he kept them by him in a casket, 
and after her death, as she wished, 
placed in the tomb under her head. 



Very cautious and circumspect was this 
virgin speaking of the state of the de 
parted, although very often she was not 
unaware of the secrets of God. Which 
from the following example will appear 
from her words as a warning for the 

inexperienced, whom visions of the dead 



often deceive. After the death then of 
William Duke and Count of Holland 
and Zeeland, under whom this virgin 
flourished and long lay sick, a certain 
popular rumour was noised and came 
to the ears of the Countess Margaret, 
wife of the Duke now dead, that this 
virgin had said that he was already 
saved. She had also heard that this 
virgin had been dead for three days and 
had come to life again. The noble and 
venerable lady then sent one of her 
servants to her, to inquire into the truth 
of this affair. Being questioned there 
fore on each point by the messenger sent, 
she thus replied to the one : " If I had 
been dead three days the people of 
Schiedam would long since have buried 
me." But to the other, as she deemed 
the question absurd, she replied after 
a fashion saying : " If he were already 
in eternal life then the Lord would 
be doing me a wrong, who, held down 
for seventeen years by most grievous 
maladies, have not left my bed or 
touched the ground. Wherefore I beg 
that you do not sin by occasion of me." 
And thus the messenger who came un 
certain returned thence more uncertain. 
However, of several departed religious 



she sometimes gave certain information, 
that they were saved and brought into the 
joy of their Lord. But of the last days 
and the coming of Antichrist she used to 
say that she herself would see neither 
of these. 



A certain citizen, an honourable man 
and a counsellor of the town of Schiedam, 
was grievously tempted by the devil to 
cast violent hands upon himself by 
hanging himself. But he had a priest 
and a good chaplain, John by name, 
adorned by the grace of God, who was 
wont to celebrate Masses before him, 
and pray for him. As often then as he 
knew him to be tempted he could 
scarcely persuade him not to inflict a 
cruel death upon himself. But since he 
could not resist the violence of the 
temptation and his confessor could not 
keep back the tempted man from the 
rope, the priest, very anxious because of 
the danger, came to the virgin for advice 



and asked what he should do with the 
tempted man. Then she, knowing that 
the devil could not bear that the arts of 
his malice should be turned into arms of 
salvation, counselled the priest that if 
the tempted man could not resist the 
suggestion of the devil he should place 
upon him as a penance that which the 
evil enemy suggested for his ruin. 
Hearing which the confessor, fearing 
lest he should be the cause of his perdi 
tion, did not dare tell the tempted man 
what he was advised. But she, trusting 
in God, bade him do it with all confi 
dence in his conscience. When then on 
one occasion, the priest finding an oppor 
tunity, did with the tempted man as the 
virgin advised, the tempted one gave 
thanks on bended knees that now at 
length he merited to obtain what he 
had so long desired. And at once re 
turning home, fastening a rope to a 
beam and passing it round his neck 
he mounted a seat, that being tied he 
might hang himself. But, O wondrous 
clemency of God and unspeakable provi 
dence of divine mercy Who turned the 
snares of the devil unto the deliverance 
of His servant on account of the obedi 
ence of the priest consenting to the 



advice of the virgin of Christ. The 
demons therefore, seeing and grudging 
that he should depart by such a death, 
violently seizing him with the rope and 
snatching him away, said, "You shall 
not hang yourself now." And being 
furiously enraged they threw him and 
forced him down behind a chest, between 
the wall and the chest. And after being 
much sought for by his servants for the 
space of nearly three hours, and at 
length found there to the great astonish 
ment of all, he was drawn out only by 
the removal of the chest, and thereafter 
he remained freed from that temptation. 



In the city of Schiedam was a certain 
woman timid and fearful whom the devil 
had almost cast into the abyss of 
despair. For he very often put before 
her during sleep a sheet with a certain 
sin formerly committed by her, as if not 
yet forgiven by God nor to be forgiven, 
although nevertheless she had very often 



confessed it sacramentally, had received 
absolution, and had performed the 
penance enjoined. She often therefore 
exposed the anguish of her heart to this 
virgin, and she comforted the desolate 
soul with loving counsels, and neverthe 
less did not succeed with her as she 
would have desired, because the prince 
of death troubled her as before in sleep 
with ever fresh terrors, saying : " By no 
means shalt thou be able to escape my 
hands, for by these letters I have thee 
confirmed and subject to me." It 
happened therefore on one occasion that 
the virgin, engaged in prayer, rapt to 
Heaven, saw the demon carrying this 
very document in his hand, but by the 
hand of the Blessed Virgin Mary it was 
violently taken away and snatched from 
his hand. For the merciful Lady was 
able to destroy all the machinations of 
the devil; and to comfort the sad soul 
with the trust of a good hope. These 
things afterwards the virgin, restored to 
her bodily senses, related to her con 
fessor John Walters, showing that the 
devil s malice was frustrated by the 
compassion of the Blessed Virgin. 
After this the aforesaid woman as before 
laid the complaints of her desolation 



before the virgin; whom she, gently 
consoling, without mentioning however 
the destruction of the paper, bade to be 
henceforth secure, nor to fear any evil 
would befall her thereby. Yea and offer 
ing herself a hostage for her conscience 
on the day of judgment and trusting 
through all in the divine mercy, she 
rendered her free and at rest from all 
the former fear. 



Now next something must be said of 
the state of this most devout virgin, as 
regards the holy Communion ; how by 
the breathing of divine grace she gradu 
ally made progress to higher gifts by 
frequently receiving the sacraments of 
the precious body of Christ. At that 
time therefore of her dryness, when the 
virgin, as yet unacquainted with spiritual 
sweetness, lay sick upon a bed of most 
bitter sorrow, there was a certain 
devout priest named Master John Pot 



who was accustomed to communicate 
with her twice a year, and who first 
formed her to meditation on the Lord s 
Passion. He therefore, having a care 
for the salvation of the sick maiden, 
when one day he was about to communi 
cate her, taking in his hands the sacred 
and spotless host he bade her very 
gravely and feelingly to look upon and 
receive Him Whom he held in his hand, 
knowing for certain that He was the 
Lord God her Creator Who had been 
made flesh, suffered and died for her, 
Who would also most abundantly 
recompense her for every affliction 
which she bore and would soften every 
pain. By which words she was at once 
exceedingly touched, and as it were 
wounded by certain fiery darts of love. 
And as before for grief of heart and 
impatience of feeling she could not 
cease from many tears, so also now for 
almost a fortnight or more she could not 
withhold her weeping for greatness of 
contrition and divine love. For she 
grieved and wept much over the blind 
ness of her past negligence and her 
continued dullness, in which she had 
been so long impatient and thoughtless 
that she could not receive the consola- 

177 M 


tion of her mother or of any man nor 
tell the cause of her tears to any. Now 
henceforth, having received the saving 
sacrament with great contrition, she 
commenced to be refreshed with fre 
quent divine consolations, although 
she did not yet go into ecstasy by the 
rapture of contemplation. And never 
theless she did not wish to make known 
the reason of her tears to those who 
questioned her, that she might not lose 
the hidden manna which she tasted, 
but might keep it in her heart the more 
safely by silence. And she enjoyed 
these consolations by divine dispensa 
tion for about eight years before she 
began to be rapt in ecstasy out of the 
senses of her body. With these two 
aids then, to wit, the holy Communion of 
the body of Christ and devout medita 
tion on the Lord s Passion, as by two 
loving arms she embraced her beloved 
spouse Jesus Christ ; and therefore she 
could confidently say with the spouse in 
the canticle of love, whose grace of 
ineffable sweetness she frequently felt in 
herself by experience: "A bundle of 
myrrh is my beloved to me, He shall 
abide between my breasts " (Cant, i 12). 
For as myrrh preserves the bodies of 



the dead from rottenness, so also the 
daily exercise of the passion of Christ 
preserved her mind from impatience 
and murmur. And as material bread 
strengthens him who eats, so the receiv 
ing of the body of Christ refreshing her 
spirit brought her life and joy. 



When our Saviour Jesus Christ was 
preaching the gospel of the kingdom of 
Heaven, among many heavenly words 
which He taught He uttered this most 
saving word of faith concerning the 
sacrament of His body. " He that eateth 
Me, the same also shall live by Me" 
(Jo. vi 58) ; to wit, eating Me either 
spiritually only, or also sacramentally and 
spiritually: or certainly he shall live 
now in the life of grace, and hereafter 
in the life of everlasting glory reigning 
with Me; for this the sacred Com 
munion of My body and blood signifies. 
Which faithful promise was undoubtedly 
fulfilled in this virgin, Christ most 



lovingly working His wonders in her. 
For although through nearly the first 
half of the period of her maladies she 
used very little nourishment and such 
as could not support nature, as is related 
in the first part of this book, and more 
over although for all the rest of her life 
she took almost no food or drink at all, 
nevertheless this holy servant of God 
could not entirely abstain from this living 
food and life-giving sacrament of the 
body of Christ. For as much as she 
languished by corporal infirmities in the 
body, and took less bodily food, so 
much the desire of the heavenly and 
divine food increased in her, and by 
means thereof she was strengthened in 
spirit and lived more spiritually within. 
Whence in the beginning of her sick 
ness for three or four years she was 
wont to communicate once a year at the 
feast of Easter, but afterwards with the 
beginning of the divine consolation for 
some years she received Christ twice a 
year. After that, when her mother was 
dead, so much did her desire increase, 
and so much was she drawn to com 
municate, that six times or more she 
received the Lord s body with full faith 
and special devotion unto the singular 



solace and assistance of her soul ; and 
she would have received the same more 
frequently if the Curd of the church had 
not refused her. Whence also, if some 
times she asked to receive the holy 
Communion of the body of Christ from 
him, very grudgingly and against his 
will he would come to her, over which 
she grieved much. For the longer she 
lay in her sickness the more she suffered 
and languished in the body, and the 
more she suffered in the body the more 
she burned in divine love, and the more 
she was on fire with divine love so much 
the more the grace of Almighty God 
worked in her. 

After this a certain wondrous vision 
appeared to the virgin, on fire with the 
desire of communicating. For a certain 
visible likeness of a crucified Child 1 
with five wounds appeared to her lying 
in bed, which afterwards changed into a 
sacramental host with the same wounds 
hung in the air over the sheet of her 
bed, wherewith the virgin was in part 

i John Brugman informs us that on this occasion 
the Saint received the Stigmata, but that at her 
request these signs of the divine favour were con 
cealed by the partial covering of the wounds, which 
nevertheless continued to cause intense pain. 



covered. She sent therefore a mes 
senger to the Cure" of the church 
that he should come to her, and see 
Christ appearing to her in a host, which 
also certain others saw with their own 
eyes. Then she begged him to give her 
this host in Communion and not to dis 
trust her and the works of God. Hear 
ing this, although doubtful, he gave her 
the host of the vision, which the virgin 
begged to receive and received with 
reverence. 1 After the wondrous ap 
pearance of this host and its devout 
reception the heart of the virgin was 
inflamed with so great a divine love and 
desire for holy Communion, that for 
many years she received the venerable 
sacrament of the Eucharist every fort 
night from the hand of the priest, who 
also was obliged to use for this great 
care and foresight, for otherwise she 
would not have been able to consume it 
for weakness. Afterwards, however, he 
would offer her a little water for the 
ablution, wherein, little as it was, she 
suffered such difficulty in her throat 
that she could scarcely swallow it. But 

1 The author discreetly passes over in charitable 
silence the disgraceful behaviour of the Parish Priest 
on this occasion. 



sometimes he gave her no ablution, 
on account of the too great difficulty of 
receiving it. And this state as regards 
her communion endured indeed until the 
year of the Lord 1421. But from this 
time until her death she commonly 
suffered her quartan and sometimes 
daily fevers for the freeing of souls 
from Purgatory. During which period 
she burned with so great a divine love 
that usually, when at the time of the 
quartan fever she was not suffering a 
fever attack, she communicated from 
the hand of her confessor two days 
following. And this holy and venerable 
sacrament of the body of Christ was for 
the sick virgin, not only the spiritual 
refreshment of her soul, but also a 
certain relief and support of her afflicted 
body. Especially, however, at the time 
of the withdrawal of grace and bereave 
ment of divine consolation she received 
this most sacred banquet of the Lord s 
body more frequently as her singular 
support. For the interior grace of divine 
consolation, which she very often felt in 
abundance of spirit and joy of heart, was 
to her refreshment of body and soul ; and 
again, by its absence her body was 
so weakened that without spiritual 



nourishment she could scarcely subsist 
and live in the body. Therefore, as has 
been said, she burningly thirsted for the 
body of Christ and received it as the 
support of life, lest she should die of 
weariness under the burden of suffering 
in the present pilgrimage. In the re 
ceiving of which she was frequently 
illumined with so great a divine light, 
that as with the bodily eyes she saw 
materially, so also, bathed with this 
supercelestial light, she saw all her 
interior with the eye of the mind. This 
same thing also befell her at other 
times in the presence of the divine light 
and the rapture of the contemplative 
life. Whence also afterwards, in the 
time of her dryness and the withdrawal 
of consolation, when by divine ordinance 
she did not experience this illumination, 
she would say within herself: " O where 
are now those days in which I was wont 
to behold my interior with the interior 
eye, as with the eye of the body I saw 
bodily things ? " And thus was fulfilled 
in her that saying of the Wise Man : 
" In the day of good things be not un 
mindful of evils; and in the day of 
evils be not unmindful of good things " 

(Eccl. xi 27). 




Now the desolate virgin had with her 
for some comfort in the latter days of 
her illness the son of her brother, by 
name Baldwine, a child of twelve years, 
almost continually waiting upon her. 
And that he might remember more 
surely the wondrous things that were 
wrought in her, and which he beheld by 
frequent experience, she obtained for 
him from the Lord the malady of a fever 
by a wholesome affliction and a certain 
loving miracle as a reminder of His 
wonders. For the same young lad used 
a certain cup from which she was wont 
to drink. And so about the feast of the 
birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1 in that 
year before the day of her death, the 
virgin when it was now evening bade 
the same child to place his cup filled 
with a light liqnor near her bed. When 
morning came, calling the child, she 
bade him take the cup and drink. 
When therefore he had taken the cup 

1 Sept. 8th. 


he found it by the gift of God filled with 
a certain strange liquor, as if there were 
in it a concoction made of a mixture of 
cinnamon and other simples sweet smell 
ing and delicious to the taste. But as 
this virgin, according to the multitude 
of afflictions wherewith she was daily 
scourged, was also refreshed with divine 
consolations, so on the other hand the 
aforesaid child, having received and 
drank as much as he would of the afore 
said cup, on the same day began to 
languish and to be troubled succes 
sively with divers fevers until about the 
feast of St. Martin, bishop, in the winter 
time of the same year. 1 But from the 
same miraculous cup divers men also 
drank, but they did not however con 
tract any maladies as the aforesaid child. 
Likewise also different liquors poured 
into the same cup for a whole week 
gave to those who drank the savour of a 
most sweet potation, without the afflic 
tion of any disease. This cup then, 
which to the child was a sign of scourg 
ing, to others who tasted was the solace 
of a fresh miracle. But when the child 
was cured of his fevers, the hand of the 
Lord was again stretched out to the 

1 Nov. nth. 



priest of this virgin. For Master John 
her confessor fell into quartan fever, 
and on the same day on which the virgin 
was usually attacked, he also being 
struck suffered a severe fever. Seeing 
this, Master John s sister asked the 
virgin how long the fever of her brother 
was to last. Who answered that he 
would be freed about the first Sunday 
of the following Lent, which also so 
came to pass as she foretold. And when 
the same Master John was sick with a 
serious illness unto death, the virgin, 
compassionating him, by the great 
urgency of her prayers mercifully ob 
tained for him from the Lord delay of 
death and lengthening of life. 



The Virgin of Christ, Lydwine, after 
being tried in many pains that there 
might not remain in her the stain of sin, 
at length with still another most sharp 
affliction was stricken and cleansed. 
In the last year of her life therefore, 



from the feast of the Purification l unto 
the feast of the following Easter, to 
gether with the other maladies which she 
had before for a very long time, she was 
afflicted with such a pain of the stone, 
that two or three times, lying as almost 
dead for nearly an hour, she could not 
speak. And she endured this suffering 
with a most intense toothache without 
any expression of impatience, and at its 
barely ceasing she was just able to utter 
only a very few words. And she said 
that the same stone, which was about 
the size of a pigeon s egg, would cause 
her death. 

At that time also she was so seldom 
visited of God by interior consolations 
that she complained to Master John her 
confessor with tears that she was in a 
certain manner abandoned by the Lord 
beyond all wont. In which desolation, 
however, greater merit was added to 
her by her patience, because she was 
rendered more like to Christ suffering 
on the cross, Who with a loud voice 
called to the Father, saying, " My God, 
My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me ? " 
(Matt, xxvii 46). And this holy virgin, as 
a true lover and bearer of the cross, per- 

1 Feb. 2nd. 



severed and endured her maladies unto 
death, which also she had foreknown 
long before by a revelation from the 
Lord. For when a certain religious 
Prior called by her had come to her, to 
wit, on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter 1 
the same year in which she died, the 
next day very early the same Prior was 
bidden by Master John the virgin s con 
fessor to enter her cell if he wished to 
experience any spiritual favour in her 
regard. When then he had entered her 
cell he perceived therein such a fra 
grance of a most sweet odour which the 
virgin, then visited by the Lord and 
borne to the heavenly regions, had 
brought back with her, as if divers aro 
matic herbs had been scattered in the 
said cell. After mutual and divine con 
verse then on those things wherefore 
she had summoned the Prior, she 
counselled him to return to her at Easter 
to confer still about these things in the 
best manner the Lord should grant. 
But if he should not find her, that then 
he should in charity pray for her. From 
which words it is clearly evident that 
she said this of her death, although she 
did not express any mention of death. 

i Feb. 22nd. 





And when the Easter solemnity arrived, 
on the holy night itself of the Lord s 
resurrection about the fourth hour of 
the breaking dawn, the aforesaid Master 
John her confessor came to see the 
virgin, and both from the scent of her 
hands and from her words he clearly 
perceived that she had been visited as 
usual by her holy angel. For he found 
such a sweetness upon her that she 
seemed to have been anointed with the 
oils of different spices. 1 Whereupon, 
when he gave thanks to the Lord and 
congratulated her, she, coming back to 
herself after this visitation, confessed that 
she had been divinely comforted, but 
declared that most grievous afflictions 

1 Brugman relates in his second Life that in this 
Easter vision Lydwine received Extreme Unction 
from the hands of Christ, quoting as his authority 
certain private revelations : " id ab eis accepi, quibus 
ipsa post mortem virgo devota Lydwine personaliter 
dignata est revelare." This would explain why the 
Saint, although she foreknew the hour of her death, 
made no request for this sacrament, but wished to 
die absolutely alone. 



were about to befall her, which she 
would suffer during this festival. She 
also said that on the same night she 
had heard the Alleluia sung in the 
Heavens, and she hoped that she would 
shortly sing the same canticle Alleluia 
with the heavenly spirits in greater joy 
and consolation, and that she would 
suffer less from those maladies if the 
Easter festival were over. Which she 
seems to have said of the passing of her 
death, although she did not show that 
she was soon to die. But each day, to 
wit, on Easterday itself and the two 
following, she said to those who came to 
her that the pains which she was then 
suffering would not last long; as after 
wards the issue proved. 1 

i There is another prophecy of her death which, 
although it appears in John Gerlac s German MS., 
was not inserted in Drug-man s translation, and thus 
seems to have escaped our author. Some years 
before her death Lydwine related to her confessor 
and friends that her angel had shown her in Paradise 
a rose tree covered with buds, and had given her to 
understand that when all these roses were in full 
bloom the measure of her merits and her days of 
exile would be accomplished. From time to time 
her friends would ask how was it with her rose tree, 
and she would sadly reply that it was as yet far 
from its full flowering. But in the beginning of 





Therefore, when the Tuesday within the 
octave of Easter dawned, the virgin, 
mild and patient, wishing to recollect 
herself more fully, asked Master John 
her confessor, who came to her early, 
that neither he nor any of those who 
loved her should enter to visit her that 
day except the child Baldwine, who 
carefully waited on her unto death. 
Which also was done, that according 
to the desire of her heart she might die 
in solitude and forsaken of men. For 
the aforesaid her confessor related to 
a certain religious that, four or five 
years before her death, he had heard her 
asking the Lord, that she might die 
with none save Himself as witness and 
not without her own knowledge. And 
she had likewise begged that He would 
multiply her pains and infirmities, lessen 

1433, answering the same question, she had joyously 
exclaimed : " Behold, all the roses are opened ; it 
will not now be long before I die." The Saint is 
sometimes represented holding a bouquet of roses. 



her days, hasten the hour of death, and 
render the agony brief ; which also came 
to pass as will shortly appear. All the 
members of her household then having 
been dismissed, and in the absence of 
Master John, who was then saying the 
Office of the dead for a certain departed 
mother of the Sisters, the virgin ap 
proaching her end in the presence of 
only the aforesaid child, who held a bowl 
for her and carried out her vomit, she 
was so distressed in throwing up this 
vomit that to the child her attendant 
pitying her she said: "My most dear 
child, would that my Master John knew 
how much I am afflicted now." Nor is 
it strange if she confessed herself afflicted 
in these sufferings, when pain coming 
upon pain increased in her. For from 
the seventh hour of the same day in the 
morning, until nearly the fourth hour 
after midday before she died, she threw 
up about twenty times a very green 
matter, which she thought came from 
the bitterness of the gall. And when 
the aforesaid child, seeing and hearing 
these things, asked her whether she 
wished him to call Master John; at 
length with the coming of the last vomit, 
she suffered such difficulty in it that 

193 N 


not being able to cast out the matter 
gathered in her throat, she commenced 
to choke with it. Seeing which the 
innocent child, thinking that she would 
die at once, weeping ran out and told this 
to Master John and the others of the 
household assembled there. And when 
likewise weeping they hastened thither, 
they found her in her agony. Then 
Master John, taking her hand, asked 
her for a sign whether she lived or 
whether she wished to be anointed. And 
when she made no reply, lighting a 
candle and setting it in a lantern, the 
priest placed the light behind her head, 
for he thought that she was still living, 
and therefore could not bear the light. 
He found that she was dead, and that 
she had escaped the wretchedness of 
the present life. But from the time 
when she last spoke until her expiry, 
scarcely the space of three Misereres 
intervened ; and thus her end was seen 
to be short, as she had long before 
asked of the Lord. But the most patient 
virgin, pleasing to God and the angels, 
died on the twelfth of the Kalends of 
May, on the feast of SS. Tiburtius and 
Valerianus; 1 in the year of the Lord s 
incarnation 1433, on the Tuesday within 

1 April I4th. 


the Octave of Easter about the fourth 
hour after vespers, in the fifty-third year 
of her age, which according to the cycle 
of festivals had been completed on the 
Palm Sunday before her death. And 
very befittingly, God arranging the order 
of seasons, she passed out of this world 
in Easter week ; that she who had long 
been a sharer of the sufferings of Christ 
in meditation and compassion, might 
also with Him on the holy paschal feast 
of His most joyous resurrection pass to 
the bliss of eternal life. And the chosen 
virgin of Christ stricken by divers 
scourges of afflictions passed away, after 
accomplishing from the beginning of 
her maladies thirty-eight years, in the 
commencement of the thirty-ninth, being 
worthy to be associated with the choirs 
of angels, who from the years of child 
hood strove to imitate the life of the 
angels in chastity. 



And after her death certain marvels 
were discovered about her body, con- 



cerning which sure witness is possessed. 
For her right arm, which for many years 
had been so dead that she had not been 
able to move it by herself, but after 
wards through a sharp operation by a 
certain surgeon it had become some 
what movable, after her death, when 
her holy body was uncovered, contrary 
to all hope and knowledge, no one 
knowing how it had come to pass, was 
found beseemingly lying with her left 
arm on her breast, with the hands as it 
were joined and the fingers bent. For 
she had been wont while still alive to 
say to some that she hoped that yet 
before her death she would praise God 
with both arms outstretched, which also 
came to pass and was clearly seen by 
many after her death. For many years 
also, and about thirty before her death, 
she used many hair girdles to chastise 
her flesh, girded with the last of which 
for about three years, she ended her 
last day. When therefore she was 
dead, and having been uncovered for 
the burial, was about to be clothed 
again, those who were there found the 
aforesaid girdle about her shoulders, 
loosed from her body in a manner un 
known to men, but whole and round 



and not untied from the links of its 
fastening. 1 

She had also asked long before her 
death of the above named Master John 
her confessor that he would not suffer 
her after her death to pass a long delay 
upon the earth, but would at once see 
that she was clothed, and according 
to the manner arranged by her have 
her buried. And although he would 
willingly have done this, he was pre 
vented by the violence of the magistrates 
of the city, whom he could not resist. 
For they had bidden him under penalty 
of his goods and body not to remove 
her from the place. The body therefore 
remained until the morning of Wednes 
day clothed in the wonted manner, and 
placed in a wooden chest, and set in the 
same place where it had lain for nearly 
twenty years in life. And the same 
venerable body was clothed after the 
fashion of religious sisters in a robe of 
wool, girded without by the hair girdle 

1 Michael d Esne, Bishop of Tournai, in the begin 
ning of the seventeenth century, says of this girdle : 
"It is still preserved, fragrant with a wondrous 
odour of sweetness. In fact I have handled it with 
my own hands, and I know by experience that 
the demons dread it exceedingly." Quoted by 



which in life she had been wont to wear 
next the flesh. Then above her head 
was placed a round coif or a kind of 
circular mitre made of vellum, on the 
circle of which the glorious names Jesus 
and Mary were written with black ink, 
with which several hearts had been 
depicted as if transfixed with arrows 
or sharp darts. And all these things 
necessary for her burial she had pre 
pared many years before, and thinking 
of her end she held them by her accord 
ing to that word of the prophet, " Make 
ready to meet thy God, Israel, for the 
Lord shall come and He shall not be 
slack to render to each according to his 
works." But under her head, as she 
had desired, was placed a certain bag 
with her sweetly redolent tears of blood, 
which she had called roses, which from 
great charity and sorrow of heart had 
distilled from her eyes. These indeed 
flowing from her eyes in course of time, 
and congealed upon her cheeks, Master 
John her confessor, gently moistening 
with her other common tears, had care 
fully scraped off, and diligently storing 
them in a bag had kept by him in a 
clean casket. 





Now the virgin of exceeding humility 
had said that she would die like other 
men with very great sufferings, and 
that no miracles would happen at her 
death, which also befell as has already 
appeared. But nevertheless, lest God 
should seem altogether unmindful of the 
pain and toil of His poor and humble 
handmaid, and her praiseworthy patience 
be taken from the mouth of men, He 
also showed by undoubted signs before 
the sight of men with how great merits 
shone in Heaven the noble jewel long 
lying in the prison of the flesh. For 
her maiden face, which shunned the 
sight of men to behold more clearly the 
heavenly Spouse, presented no pallor or 
horror of death ; but as if it had been 
anointed with oil or some aromatic 
liquor, shone with so great a brightness 
and becoming whiteness that it seemed 
to the beholders not as the common face 
of a mortal man or of a dead corpse, 

but as the likeness of a man glorified. 



For those who were present said that 
they had never seen so beautiful a 
picture. Whence also, although many 
often approached to see her several 
times they could never see her enough. 
Likewise also the whole body shone 
with the same whiteness and a similar 
brilliancy, and all her members were 
resplendent with such a flush of health 
and beseeming fleshiness, as if she had 
never suffered any infirmity. The cleft 
also of her forehead seen formerly during 
life utterly vanished; the feet likewise 
and the legs, the hands and arms, and 
the neck appeared corpulent, and the 
whole body as entire as if there had 
never been any injury or wound therein 
before, except only that in the wound of 
her right arm, and in one wound in 
flicted upon her by the men of Picardy, 
small scars like a thread appeared in 
sign of the striking. Now the aforesaid 
Master John had three sisters german, 
who, when with other respectable 
matrons they watched by this venerable 
body, were filled with such grace by the 
sight and presence thereof that the 
whole time, to wit, from her passing to 
her burial, they were troubled by neither 
hunger, nor thirst, nor sleepiness. 





But her death being known, and the 
report of the glory of her body flying 
far and wide, so great a concourse 
of men flowed to visit her even to 
midnight, all the days that she re 
mained unburied, that from the different 
states and towns of Rotterdam, of 
Delft, of Leyden, and Briel, and from 
other neighbouring towns and districts, 
so many hastened to the sight of this 
body that their certain number beyond 
many thousands cannot be assigned 
nor easily expressed. For children of 
three or four years, as if accustomed 
to walking, hastened with such eager 
ness that they urged even men of adult 
age to visit such great relics. Then 
the virgin could say if she had lived, 
" Suffer the little children to come unto 
me, for of such is the kingdom of 
Heaven" (Mark x 14). Having entered 
then the house in which was the holy 
bier, and because as children they were 
of small stature and could not lift 
themselves up to see the body in the 



place where it lay, many of them crying 
and grieving said: "Shall I not see 
this virgin, for whom I have come from 
so far?" Then the bystanders raised 
them up to see the face of the virgin, 
and after the sight sent them back to 
their homes with an alms of white 
bread. And what is more wonderful, 
there was also there a matron with a 
baby of one year and three months, 
which infant indeed, with joined hands 
and face turned towards the coffin, 
fixed his eyes so reverently and gravely 
thereon that the watchers and assis 
tants of the sacred remains seeing 
and wondering at the infant s devotion 
were moved to tears. 



On account of the most brave endurance 
of her sufferings, and her frequent 
familiarity with angels and conversation 
in Heaven, this virgin had arrived at 
such purity that, touched on the hand 
by unworthy and unclean men while 
still living, she sometimes visibly con- 



tracted stains, of which black marks 
remained on her hands two or three 
days, which had not been seen there 
before. So also after her death some 
thing of the like happened. For when 
her face after her death shone as has 
been said with such brilliancy, a certain 
matron came with others to visit, and 
passed her beads which she held in 
her hand over her face out of devotion 
as she thought, and immediately after 
wards the maiden face from that 
contact was noticeably darkened. 
Wherefore, when her body had been 
placed in the church and some of the 
bystanders asked that it should be 
shown and the coffin opened for them, 
the rest, who knew of this darkening, 
absolutely forbade this to be done, 
fearing lest if it should be further 
darkened by the onlooking of the un 
worthy, others might be scandalised 



At length on the Friday within the 
octave of Easter, which was the fourth 



day after her happy passing from this 
vale of tears and from the enclosure 
of the earthly dwelling, after the 
sacrifice of the Mass had been most 
devoutly celebrated she was given to 
burial, at the twelfth hour at midday, 
the sun shining brightly, and the day 
declining to its close, after the example 
of Christ, Who suffered on a Friday, 
died at the ninth hour, and was buried 
before sunset. To celebrate whose 
funeral rites was present the religious 
father Judocus, Prior of the Regulars 
of Briel, who had very often familiarly 
conversed with her in life, and had 
wisely tested many of the secrets of 
her sanctity. He persuaded for the 
better, and urged the people to suffer 
the servant of God to be buried in a 
Christian fashion. And when he had 
spoken the popular devotion agreed 
with the Prior, and at once her coffin, 
having been strongly fastened, the 
body of the holy virgin was given to 
burial after the example of Christ 
buried in the bosom of the earth, to 
be again raised by Him on the last 
day and glorified with all the saints in 
everlasting blessedness. And she was 
buried the beloved spouse of Christ, 



Lydia, white in virginity, deep in humi 
lity, perfected in patience, burning in 
charity, merciful, kind, excelling in 
devotion, sublime in contemplation, 
richly adorned with all the virtues and 
gifts of the Holy Ghost : not wrapt in 
silks, not enclosed in a marble tomb, 
but in a grave of stones befittingly 
formed with cement work; not in a 
royal city, but in her native town called 
Schiedam ; not in a choir of clerics nor 
in a sanctuary of priests, but in the 
common cemetery of the parochial 
church of St. John Baptist, to the east 
of the temple, where the grave of the 
virgin may be seen and visited by all 
the inhabitants : not, however, deep in 
the earth nor covered above with earth, 
nor lifted high above the earth, but on 
beams of wood laid across within a 
stone grave. And this indeed very 
fittingly, that as for thirty years she 
had not touched the earth in life, so 
the earth should not touch her in death 
nor a mound of earth cover the casket 
of her body. Over whom is placed a 
large stone of red colour, beseemingly 
adorned within with divers red crosses, 
raised about two cubits above the 
mound of the grave. 





After the burial of the venerable virgin, 
as many faithful visited her grave and 
honoured it with free offerings who 
asserted that they had been cured of 
various sicknesses and diseases the 
rulers of the city and the authorities of 
the church, having conceived a most 
praiseworthy design for the increase of 
the honour of God, the year following 
had built a stone chapel with an altar 
near her grave, about the feast of the 
ten thousand Martyrs, 1 to the praise and 
glory of God and the special memory of 
the same virgin, in the year of the Lord 




But now to prove this virgin s holiness 
it seems altogether befitting at the end 
of the book to adjoin, to the honour of 

1 June 22nd. 


God and the praise of this holy virgin, 
of many signs three most notable 
miracles recently wrought by the co 
operation of God, which are proved on 
the faith of worthy men testifying to her 
sanctity, and are reported by the lips of 


There was in the city of Delft a certain 
maiden who, continually keeping her bed 
for eight years, was grievously sick. 
This maiden four masters skilled in 
medicine and famous of repute visited, 
and moved by human pity, but urged 
more by the love of God, then strove to 
aid her. But the illness of this virgin 
was altogether unknown to these now 
mentioned masters, nor could any one of 
them give a remedy which might profit 
the sick girl. Among whom one of the 
masters, Master William Sonderdank, 
an approved doctor, wondering much, 
said to the above named maiden : " Thou 
hast not yet suffered so long a time 
such great pains as that blessed virgin 
Lydwine, because of whose merits the 
Lord now works many miracles in our 
parts." The sick virgin then hearing 
this, of her own devotion, or rather urged 



by divine inspiration, recited as many 
times the Lord s Prayer, commonly 
called the Our Father, as there are 
members in the human body, to the 
honour of God and this holy virgin Lyd- 
wine. It befell therefore after this that 
the happy virgin Lydwine visibly visited 
the sick maiden, giving her a remedy of 
medical art, and truly healed, she arose 
sound, walking, eating, and doing the 
works of maids in health. Whereat the 
aforesaid master, very much astounded, 
testifies that this is most true. 


The second miracle happened at 
Gouda, a most noted city of Holland. 
There was there in a cloister of virgins a 
certain nun who had a contraction of 
the nerves in one leg ; which leg was so 
bent and shrunken that she could not 
walk, nor stretch it in any way to the 
length of the other by a space of two 
palms. She would willingly have visited 
this doctor Master William Sonderdank 
abovenamed, who before had cured one 
of the same house, sent to him in Delft, 
with the remedies of his art and the 
help of the grace of God in the space of 



eight weeks, but she could not obtain 
permission from her superiors. Sad 
dened therefore, she wept bitterly several 
days, because she would remain lame all 
the days of her life, as she thought, ill 
content to be thus. At length came 
that blessed virgin Lydwine of a night 
speaking with her, and saying that she 
should ask of the sisters that every nun 
of that house should recite five Our 
Fathers and Hail Marys to the honour 
of God and the virgin Lydwine herself; 
and on the Sunday should have herself 
carried to her own church, and thus she 
should recover the health of the lame 
leg. Which was done without delay. 
For, having obtained leave of her con 
fessor, she was carried to the church as 
Lydwine had said to her by vision, and 
during Mass she suddenly obtained the 
perfect cure of her leg ; going out most 
joyously by herself, and rendering the 
greatest thanks to God, Who had 
worked that miracle by the merits of 
the most happy virgin Lydwine. 


But the third miracle happened at 
Leyden, a well-known town of the country 

209 o 


of Holland. In this populous city there 
was a certain religious virgin who had 
in the neck a hard cancer about the size 
of a large apple, so that she could 
neither drink nor eat nor bend herself, 
if she did not wish to be choked by the 
exceeding difficulty of breathing. She 
came without shoes and without linen l 
to the grave of the aforesaid holy virgin 
to implore the succour of health, and 
not having gained it she returned with 
great sadness, not knowing what good 
things were to come to her. The night 
following after her return from the tomb, 
and awakened from her sleep, she was 
entirely cured of that cancerous growth 
which she had suffered for nearly eight 
years, as was known to many. This 
virgin miraculously cured the above 
mentioned Master William Sonderdank, 
doctor in medicine, saw with his own 
eyes and touched her neck with his 
hands ; who also gives most trustworthy 
witness in his writing of all the foregoing, 
saying: "I witness to God that these 
three have been wrought within a short 
time ; yea and many others which I have 
seen with my own eyes it would be too 

i i.e. with only the rough outer garment against 
the skin by way of penance. 



long to narrate." l These above written 
miracles have come to pass by God re 
newing wonders in our days, in the year 
of the Lord one thousand four hundred 
forty-eight, the most holy Pope Nicholas 
the Fifth sitting in the apostolic See, in 
the second year of his reign. 


1 This William Sonderdank was the son of the 
Godfrey of Hague, the Doctor who was the first to 
recognise the supernatural nature of Lydwine s 
ailments. This good Godfrey was accustomed to 
heal the poor gratis, and in response to their earnest 
Grootendank, Great thanks, he invariably answered 
Sonderdank, No thanks. Hence he was commonly 
known as Sonderdank, a title which his son was 
proud to take as a surname. This son, William, is 
also said to have built a hospital on the site of 
St. Lydwine s house, in accordance with the wish 
which she had once expressed when refusing the 
offer of a better house for herself : she had said that 
she would be well content if after her death her 
house should be fitted up as an asylum for the sick. 

Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON <& Co. 
Edinburgh 6 London 


Thomas a Kenrois EOT 


St. Lydwine of Schiedam...