A series of four talks on medieval female mystics, thinking about how their experiences were translated to texts, and indeed how texts in the medieval period informed mystical devotion. We will explore how we define 'mysticism' or 'visionary experience', take a look at female saintly models, and will include a focus on Christina of Markyate and the St Albans Psalter. We’ll also take a look at some of the most prominent mystics of the period, including Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, and Bridget of Sweden.

Image: Christina of Markyate (possibly) leads monks to Christ through prayer. St Albans Psalter, p285. Date ca. 1119-46. © Dombibliothek Hildesheim, HS St.God. 1

Date: Mondays 13th September, 20th September, 27th September, 4th October 

Time: 7.30pm to 9.00pm 

Cost: £25 for access to the series of talks or £10 for individual talks 

Venue:  Online via Zoom

If you’d like to attend the events but are not free to join us live, please do buy a ticket and you’ll receive an email with the joining details and how to receive a recording of the talk on the day. 

To book the full series of talks please click below or you can book individual talks further down the page. 

Safeguarding: If you are under 18 or booking for someone who is under 18 please email us at the [email protected] after you have booked your ticket. 


Week  1 -  Discerning Spirits: Holiness, Heresy, and Female Mysticism 
Hannah Lucas (University of Oxford)

This talk will consider the lives of some visionary women from England and the Continent, including Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Bridget of Sweden, Marguerite Porete and some ‘Beguines’ from the Low Countries. The talk will ask what constitutes 'mystical experience', and how the devotional practices of these holy women were received at the time. In particular, it will address how these women were deemed holy or heretical, authorised or chastised by religious authorities.

To book this talk only, please click here:

Week 2 - Mirrors and Models of Mysticism: Forming Female Spiritual Identity in Medieval England
Katherine Dixon (University of Cambridge)
From saints to sex, motherhood to matrimony, England’s female mystics sought models for, and indicators of, their privileged spiritual status from a plethora of sources. This talk explores a range of the icons, images and ideas that England’s female mystics called upon to help them understand inwardly and betoken outwardly their religious experience(s). It pays particular attention to the mutually influential forces of female embodiment and spiritual insight to reveal the ways by which women such as Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe found and formed their influential identities.

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Week 3 - Christina of Markyate: The Story of an Extraordinary Woman 
Jane Kelsall (St Albans Cathedral)

Christina of Markyate was a remarkable Anglo-Saxon woman. As a teenager her devotion to St Alban provoked rage in her aspirational parents, who treated her a marriage pawn. After many gruelling years evading marriage and predatory clergy she came under the protection of the pious Roger the Hermit and later found her true vocation as a nun and advisor to two powerful Norman abbots of St Albans, Geoffrey and Robert de Gorron. This talk explores her life and brings us closer to her story.

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Week 4 - Christina of Markyate’s World, as seen through the St Albans Psalter
Prof Jan Geddes (University of Aberdeen) 
The St Albans Psalter is one of the most lavishly illustrated books of psalms produced in the middle ages. The illuminations ostensibly illustrate the life of Christ, and a theme to each psalm, but many of them can also be read as a code. Christina’s Life provides vivid accounts of conversations between the mystic and Abbot Geoffrey; many illustrations appear to be a graphic commentary on their thoughts, hopes, fears and ultimately love. This deeper, personal meaning can be teased out by a careful reading of the psalm texts together with the graphic account of Christina’s life.

To book this talk only, please click here:

How to Book

You can book online above, or call the Box Office on 01727 890290. Tickets will be on sale until 5pm the day of the event. Please ensure that you provide a current email address when you book. 

Joining on Zoom on the night

As these talks will be hosted over Zoom, participants will need access to a device which has audio in order to be able to hear. You can also join by dialling in using a telephone, but won't be able to see the speaker or any visual aids. 

Instructions for joining the talk will be sent via email after 5pm on the day of the event.

If you have not received these details please email us before 7pm.

Click here to find out more about using Zoom for our events