Hadewijch Saw Each Of Them With His/Her Seraphim
Sr. Helen Rolfson, OSF
School of Theology
St. John's University
Second, John the Baptist.
Third, John the Evangelist.
Fourth, Mary Magdalene. Her quick love moved her to her greatness and gave her everything that brought her to perfection in the three modes that are one.
Fifth, St. Peter; he was firmly grounded in total love.
Sixth, St. James, who had twenty-seven great revelations from God, not counting the ones he had on the Mount Tabor of the Transfiguration, which was his first. He had six during our Lord's life; and after His death, twenty-five, all about the wounds of our lord, not to mention the many other sweet feelings he always had since he received the Holy Spirit. These were never extinguished. The same happened to no other apostle, except to three of them. But these I do not name, because it would embarrass them. So, I now keep silence about it.
Seventh, St. Gregory, who was supremely perfect in all three [modes].
Eighth, St. Hilary, to whom many hidden good things occurred, from God, and who was utterly just in all things.
Ninth, St. Isidore, who was so perfect in all virtues that all that anyone knew about him was as dew in comparison to the storminess of others, so supremely great was he in all things.
Tenth, St. Augustine, who, in the second year before his death, once felt that the woefulness of love affected him greatly and that he was so lost in that moment on account of love that he felt lost in love and then he saw love's greatness next to his own littleness. Then he fell into the despair caused by love. How and with what he should become like the great love; after this hell that he then tasted, then he fell into purgatory with a great self-surrender and became very proud that he would and should become entirely love. In order for him to grow in it also, there then came other saints who were his friends, who consoled him. They were Saint John the Evangelist and others of his heavenly friends, at least nine of them, and counseled him to hold his ground against love and he should conquer. And then the seraphim of seraphims appeared to him and said: "If you weigh things evenly in the balance, and give everything what belongs to it and give what you love its due place, then no one shall know you outside of love, nor love outside of you." Then he left all doubt behind and fell into the full storm of distrust so that he would give love no advantage. Therein he abided at all times until his death; even though he did not always remain in bliss, he did remain in love's realm and in love's works. And then he felt the Trinity's being, in justice and in love.
Eleventh, a virgin called Geremina, who for nine years constantly underwent such great stress of love within her that she could by no means rest nor could she forget love. It made her often experience great woe as though she was going into labour of childbirth. And felt that all her members would split in two, and she became so horribly wide that she though that she swallowed all of hell's inhabitants in order to spoil them with the newness of her love, to feed and to protect each one on earth as they each deserved. And she also swallowed all the inhabitants of heaven and transformed them into new glory, and conducted them to new thrones. She was frequently so strong that nothing could withstand her. This was so fast that she overcame all lovers, both dead and alive. Her hands were always so stiff that she thought no one on earth could have borne what she did and lived through it had living love that is immortal not preserved her. After these nine years, she had for eight years such a profound love and such a great complacency with the holy Father and with the sweet Son and with the bright Spirit, that she loved all that they loved and that she hated all that they hated. She let everything happen without surprise and without complaint, and she loved no one unless she knew them to be in the being of love in heaven, on earth -- the dead, the living, and those not yet born. Everything else, then, was all the same to her, as it is also for me now. Love made her grow up to the perfect essence of her being. How she began, I do not say -- for it was beautiful, great, and with true humility. And I have just told about her high point.
Saint Martin was twelfth. He was so grounded in basic charity that the cordiality of his love profited all heaven and earth. Six years before his death, he was consoled by the perfect being: he was led into the essence to which he was received -- the Trinity -- and the just Father took the one over the other. I happen to know miracles wrought by him that are not read in his Life -- and you could not begin to write them all down on seven of these writing-tablets.
The thirteenth was a certain Constantius. For sixty years he crawled on his hands and feet like a beast. He said to one of his brothers who met him going round creeping and naked, asked him how it stood between him and God. He said in reply: "Dear Father, in all these labours of sixty years, I have never received the full consolation of the Holy Spirit." The other found this a grave thing, for he did not understand it. For Constantius was used to receiving his consolation daily from the Holy Spirit. For people think that joy and sweetness from within come from the Holy Spirit. That is true. Yes, something that comes from God is altogether God. But what a person gets by means of industriousness is soon up, both for the people who pose the question and for the many people who seek after gifts and are satisfied with that sort of consolation. But, dear one, if you want to find full consolation, never again lose a minute or separate yourself from God. The bonds that He gives are changeless and shall not pass away. That is why that man did not understand Constantius at all, just as there are many people who do not value highly enough the Holy Spirit in others. The name "Holy" (as given to the Spirit) means the perfection of the persons in which the Three dwell. This is why he did not have full consolation of the Holy Spirit, as I said above, because he was not taken up in the fruition of the three beings as a whole. Yet the work of the Holy Spirit was well known to him.
Saint Paul was the fourteenth. He was very obedient. He felt the fire of the Holy Spirit burning with love in his soul and his love always dwelt there above. He did not care what his body suffered because of the instancy and fruition of the love in which he dwelt totally.
A maiden called Sara was the fifteenth. She had been a Jewess for sixteen years when she heard tell of Christ and of His way of life, and she was moved to pity, thinking that she felt Christ's blood falling upon her heart and she felt woe and wonder, left her father and mother, and came to live in a city north of Cologne where Christians lived. And she said that she had been a Jewess. Then people wanted to baptize her and she said that she was already baptized. Then she learned Christian ways and she was taken up in the spirit and was bathed in the blood of Christ. She was given to drink of the chalice. After a time, she came back to herself, and having received seventy-four lovely revelations and also the spirit of prophecy; she also had true works of charity -- something that surpasses all the rest. She understood all tongues and was familiar with every science. She had the Holy Spirit in her soul and in her body. With all her exercises (of virtue), she was a perfect mother of God.
Saint Brigid was the sixteenth. I know only a little about her.
Saint Amelberga was seventeenth, of whom I also know very little.
Saint Bernard was the eighteenth, of whom I also know very little.
One of his brethren called Henry is the nineteenth.
A grey [Cistercian] monk called Diedrich is twentieth.
One is called Eligius and dwelt on the mount in Jerusalem; he is the twenty-first.
A recluse called Maria is the twenty-second. She was once a nun.
Mina, a recluse who dwells far away on craggy rocks and to whom I sent Master Henry of Breda, is the twenty-third.
Honorius, who dwells in the sea upon a rough rock, is the twenty-fourth, to whom I sent a monk who often used to visit me.
A virgin from Cologne, called Verlana is the twenty-fifth. She also used to come often to me in spirit and also to send me spirits, angels, seraphim, saints and people.
The twenty-sixth, a woman from Cologne, called Oda, also used to come to see me.
A beguine called Helsewent, who lived near Vilvoorde, is twenty-seven. She died singing.
Hildegard, who saw all the visions, is the twenty-eighth.
A beguine whom Master Robbaert put to death on account of her true love is the twenty-ninth.
Among the still living [perfect] there dwell seven as hermits on the walls of Jerusalem, and three live in the city. The latter are women: two virgins and a third who was a sinful woman and had herself enclosed in a wall.
In Thuringia, there are five living: two men and three women.
In Brabant alone, there are eleven: three men, six maidens, and two widows.
In England, there are nine: five hermits, two recluses, and two virgins.
In Flanders, there are five: three beguines and two nuns.
In Zeeland, six: a priest, two beguines, a recluse in Middelburg and a very powerful widow. The sixth is an unknown man.
In Holland there is a defrocked priest who is very enlightened.
In Friesland, there is also a priest.
A preacher from Zeeland, but who lives in Denmark.
In the land of Loon are living three who are nuns.
I also have a friend who lives in Bohemia; she is a recluse.
In Paris there is a forgotten Master [of the schools] who lives alone in a little cell. He knows more about me than I know about myself, as far as goodness is concerned.
There in the neighborhood lives a woman in an enclosure. Her name is Geremina and is so perfect that I know absolutely no one better.
On the other side of the Rhine there are two people who are managing to be so hidden that the one virgin will not communicate to the other what she has seen about her and with her in the Spirit of God. They do not want to say "love" before God, even though love shines through all their members and enlightens them. They also do not dare to call each other "dear" either interiorly in spirit or [outwardly] with their mouths. Nevertheless, they are "Jacob," who gazed at God. He has loved them through and through, as He is their God and Dear One, just as He is and shall be for us.
Among these fifty-six names are seven Johns, two Diederichs, three Claus, one Ghielis, one Boniface, one Godevaart, three Henrys, three Walters, one Robert, one Godschalk, two Sarahs, one Hadewijch, one Aleyda, three Emmas, five Margarets, two Agnes, one Agatha, one Beatrice, two Odas.
I do not know what you can make of all these people as their lives are unknown to you and in what marvelous wise they have arrived at this perfection or shall arrive at it.