Talks to mark Richard Caister anniversary
St Stephen’s Church in Norwich will be holding a series of talks to mark the 600th anniversary of the death of the late-medieval poet and priest, Richard Caister
Richard Caister was once incumbent of St Stephen’s Church and was buried in the church building following his death in 1420. Caister was renowned for his preaching, his writing and his devotion to his parishioners. He was a contemporary and near neighbour of Julian of Norwich and served as confidante to Margery Kempe, whom he also defended during her heresy trials before the formidable bishop of Norwich, Henry le Despenser.
Caister lived during a turbulent period for the Church in England with the dissenting group, the Lollards, being the object of restrictive ecclesiastical legislation and punishment. Despite this, Caister continued to preach and write of the immediate availability of the grace of God in English (as opposed to Latin), for which he was described by Protestant historians of the 16th century as a sympathiser with the dissenting theology of John Wyclif and so identified as a forerunner of the Reformation in England. After his death, Caister’s burial place became a shrine, with pilgrims travelling from across England to pray.
Alongside the secondary accounts of his character, ministry and life, Richard Caister leaves behind three important artefacts from which we can build a picture of who he was and tell his story: his will, a metrical prayer written in the English language and the pilgrim badges that were associated with his shrine, which depict Richard Caister preaching.
“Grant me Grace”: The Richard Caister Project sets out to tell the story of Richard Caister. Currently, very little information is available to the public. At the forefront of this story is the suitability of all (not just the professionally religious) for spiritual and theological discourse, a commitment which is still at the core of the ministry of Christ at St Stephen’s today.
The Richard Caister Project: Online
The Caister Talks: #1
Sally-Anne Lomas, "An Imaginary Day in the Life of Medieval Norwich, 1411"
The Caister Talks: #2
Frank Meeres, 'The Life, Times and Will of Richard Caister'
Dr Carole Hill will be discussing the conditions that made Norwich and Norfolk a centre of female spirituality and literary production in the late middle ages.
A performance from the internationally renowned poet, Reverend Dr Malcolm Guite will also be shared in the coming weeks
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