Geoffrey Chuacer was an English gentleman who lived 1340-1400. He was a soldier and a civil servant, but he is best known for his literary legacy, particularly “The Canterbury Tales.” Following are excerpts from the first and closing stanzas of his poem, “Pier A Nostre Dame,” an extended tribute to the Virgin Mary in which each stanza begins with the succeeding letter of the alphabet of his time.
It is obvious that in the cult of the Virgin Mary during the middle ages, she was ascribed with all the traits of divinity. The sacred feminine was alive and well within the orthodox practice of the Church. So that you can read for yourself, I took a stab at updating the language.
Almighty and all merciful queen,
To whom all in this world flee for succour,
To have release of sins, of sorrow, of tension -
Glorious virgin, of all flowers flower,
To thee I flee, confounded in error.
Help and relieve, thou mighty debonair,
Have mercy on my perilous languor.
Vanquished hath me my cruel adversary….
Now lady bright, since thou can and will
Be to the seed of Adam merciful,
Bring us to that palace that is built
To penitents that be to mercy able. Amen.
Source: Fisher, ed. The Complete Prose and Poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer St. Louis, MO: 1977, Von Hoffman Press Inc.
This Christmas hymn from the Middle Ages demonstrates the identification of Mary as the Mother of God, a deific appellation.
I sing of a maiden that is matchless,
King of all kings for her son she chose….
Mother and maiden was never none but she -
Well may such a lady God’s mother be.
(Source: Johnson and Troiano, editors: The Roads from Bethelehem, Louisville, KY: 1993, John Knox Press.)
In this poem it is not Mary who was chosen by God - it was Mary who did the choosing! This is a statement of female empowerment that she freely chose to bear the life of God within herself.
These examples from the hearts of Medieval Europeans demonstrate that the feminine did not languish in the practice and belief of the Roman Catholic Church. I lift these out only to make the point. More examples abound when you open your eyes to the art and songs and liturgies of the Church. It is obvious that “the Vatican” had no interest in suppressing the veneration of the feminine.