Beguines’ Christmas

The Beguine movement emerged in the 11th century and spread in Europe, specifically in The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. They were Christian women who desired to radically live the life Jesus led with the nearest followers. But they refused to be cloistered nuns, as the strictest canonical norm dictated in medieval times for those women who desired to do so. Beguines longed for spiritual, intellectual and institutional freedom from the clergy. They conciliated an active and contemplative life; they lived of their manual labour, dedicated their attention to the poorest, cultivated reading and studying as well as writing and preaching. They were the object of constant suspicion and repeated condemnation on behalf of popes and bishops.  The Beguine movement emerged in the 11th century.

Among them, great poets, theologians and mystics are found for example, Hadewich of Ambers (13th century), Matilde of Magdeburg (13th century) or Marguerite Porete, condemned to be burned at the stake by the Inquisition in Paris in 1310. The movement resisted and endured in Belgium until the year 2013.

Here there is a text which circulated among them as a source of inspiration:

If the poor begs me, I will give them.
If they feel pain, I will cry with them.
If they are disconsolate, I will comfort them.
If they cannot move, I will carry them.
If they are blind, I will guide them.
If they are hungry, I will feed them.
If they are naked, I will dress them.
If they are cold, I will heat them.
If they are wondering, I will give them shelter.

Every time we do it, no matter how small, Jesus is born, it’s Christmas

Translated from Spanish by Andrea González Tamayo