|Other names||Richard Rolle of Hampole|
|Education||University of Oxford|
|Known for||Hermit, religious writer, Bible translator|
Richard Rolle (1290–1349) was an English religious writer, Bible translator, and hermit. He is known as Richard Rolle of Hampole or de Hampole, since after years of wandering he settled in Hampole, near the Cistercian nunnery.
Born into a small farming family and brought up at Thornton-le-Dale near Pickering, he studied at the University of Oxford, where he was accompanied by his patron Thomas de Neville, the Archdeacon of Durham. He showed little interest in the scholastic disputations of the time, displaying a devotion to study of the Scripture; he also learnt Latin during his time there. Rolle left Oxford at age eighteen or nineteen. Fearing he had ceded too greatly to temptation in his youth, and that he would transgress further, he adopted the life of a hermit shortly afterwards. He had his cell first at Pickering, and then in the North Yorkshire parish of Ainderby. Rolle, guided by his conscience, was often misunderstood and repelled by others. He briefly housed with a squire, John Dalton, whose wife disapproved of him, and he found no more favour with the bishop or monks, having to frequently change abode. The laity were cautious of him, and he found it difficult to approach women, who thought ill of his intentions.
|"I felt within me a merry and unknown heat...I was expert it was not from a creature but from my Maker, as it grew hotter and more glad."|
|—Rolle on his first mystical experience.|
Two years and eight months after becoming a hermit, Rolle had his first mystical experience. Around a year later, he felt similarly after listening to a choir, and he began to take less interest in all things temporal. Rolle then made his way to Sorbonne, which specialised at the time in Bibilical exegesis and pastoral theology, feeling that his attendance at the university was not inconsistent with his lifestyle. In fact, Rolle's time in Paris proved to be of great value in his life, much of which was taken up by contemplation, as he acquired an adeptness in theology. On the contemplative life, he wrote, "There are many active men better than some contemplatives", though, "the best contemplatives are better than the best actives". Rolle may have been ordained as a priest in his time at Sorbonne. In the years after, he spent much of his time on the moors of Richmondshire, exposing himself to a harsh climate, and in the process strengthening his communion with God and his discipline in his conduct. Although he was still met with hostility from the clergy, and he conceded that he was awkward with men, he became acquainted with some parish priests, and William Stokes, a Doctor of Divinity, during this time.
Rolle was wary of his relationships with women as well, although he found greater success with them, especially in the last nine years of his life, when he inhabited a cell near the Cisterian nunnery of Hampole. Because of his time spent here, where he was director of the inmates, he is sometimes known as Richard Rolle of Hampole, or de Hampole. He wrote The Form of Living and his English Psalter for a nun there, Margaret Kirkby (who later took up a similar life to Rolle, as an anchoress), and Ego Dormio for a nun at Yedingham. Rolle died in 1349, the first year that the Black Death came to England, and it may have been the cause of his death.
He wrote in both Latin and English (his first work, Melum, was of alliterative Latin); many works are attributed to him, but it has been questioned how many are genuinely from his hand. In particular, The Pricke of Conscience, once attributed to him, is now thought to have been written by an anonymous author in the 14th century. Some of his writings were printed in the sixteenth century, by Wynkyn de Worde.
In one of his best-known works, The Fire of Love or Incendium Amoris Rolle provides an account of his mystical experiences, which he describes as being of three kinds: a physical warmth in his body, a sense of wonderful sweetness, and a heavenly music that accompanied him as he chanted the Psalms. The book was widely read in the Middle Ages, and described the four purgative stages that one had to go through to become closer to God: described as open door, heat, song, and sweetness. Because of the wide proliferation of his works, there was a movement to have him canonized. As many of his works were concerned with personal devotion, some, with considerable alterations, were used by the Lollards.
The level of financial support that Rolle enjoyed was a new development in the treatment of religious recluses.
|Honored in||Anglican Communion|
|Feast||20 January (Church of England)
September 28 (Episcopal Church (USA))
 Modern editions
- English Prose Treatises of Richard Rolle of Hampole, edited by George Perry (1866)
- English Writings of Richard Rolle Hermit of Hampole, edited by Hope Emily Allen (1931)
- The Contra amatores mundi of Richard Rolle of Hampole, introduced and translated by Paul F. Theiner, (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1968) [translation into English, alongside Latin text, of Liber de amore Dei contra amatores mundi]
- Biblical commentaries: Short exposition of Psalm 20, Treatise on the Twentieth Psalm, Comment on the first verses of the Canticle of Canticles, Commentary on the Apocalypse, translated by Robert Boenig, (Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universität Salzburg, 1984)
- Richard Rolle, the English writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen. Classics of Western Spirituality, (London: SPCK, 1989)
- The tractatus super psalmum vicesimum of Richard Rolle of Hampole, edited and translated by James C. Dolan, (Lewiston;Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991)
- The fire of love, edited by Halcyon Backhouse, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1992) [translation of Incendium amoris]
- Richard Rolle: Uncollected Prose and Verse with related Northern text, edited by Ralph Hanna for the Early English Text Society, (Oxford University Press, 2008)
- Spahl, Rüdiger (hg), De emendatione vitae. Eine kritische Ausgabe des lateinischen Textes von Richard Rolle mit einer Übersetzung ins Deutsche und Untersuchungen zu den lateinischen und englischen Handschriften (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009) (Super alta perennis. Studien zur Wirkung der Klassischen Antike, 6).
- Richard Rolle, The fire of love, London, 2012. limovia.net ISBN 978-1-78336-021-5
 See also
- Christian mysticism
- Mystical theology
- God: Sole Satisfier
- Jan Tyranowski, mentor of Pope John Paul II and modern exemplar of the way of life of Rolle.
- Karen Armstrong. A History of God. p. 252. ISBN 0-345-38456-3.
- "RICHARD ROLLE The Book of Margery Kempe, chapters 17, 58, and 62". Mapping Margery Kempe. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
- "Learning from the English Mystics, Alison Fry, ISBN 1-85174-395-2".
- "Richard Rolle de Hampole". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Maynard Smith 1938, p. 344
- Maynard Smith, p. 344-345
- Maynard Smith, p. 345
- Maynard Smith, p. 346
- Maynard Smith, p. 354
- Maynard Smith, p. 347
- Pastors and visionaries: religion and secular life in late medieval Yorkshire by Jonathan Hughes pp.85-86
- Maynard Smith, Herbert (1938). Pre-Reformation England. London: Macmillan
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