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Painting of a nun holding a basket of bread

The Noble Virtue of Charity

and how she obeys none other than Love

Marguerite Porete

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Love:

Charity obeys no created thing except Love.

Charity possesses nothing of her own, and should she possess something she does not say that it belongs to her.

Charity abandons her own need and attends to that of others.

Charity asks no payment from any creature for some good or pleasure that she has accomplished.

Charity has no shame, nor fear, nor anxiety. She is so upright she cannot bow on account of anything that might happen to her.

Charity neither makes nor takes account of anything under the sun, for the whole world is only refuse and leftovers.

Charity gives to all what she possesses of worth, without retaining anything for herself, and with this she often promises what she does not possess through her great largesse, in the hope that the more she gives the more remains in her.

Charity is such a wise merchant that she earns profits everywhere where others lose, and she escapes the bonds that bind others and thus she has great multiplicity of what pleases Love.

And note that the one who would have perfect charity must be mortified in the affections of the life of the spirit through the work of charity.


From Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls, trans. Ellen L. Babinsky (Paulist, 1993), 82.

Painting of a nun holding a basket of bread Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, Guinevere Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery / Bridgeman Images
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