Study Guide

Richard of Caister in The Book of Margery Kempe

By Margery Kempe

Richard of Caister

Richard is the saintly Vicar of St. Stephen's Church in Norfolk. Kempe meets him immediately after giving birth, when Jesus commands her to fix her hair and walk over to Norwich to meet with this holy man. Kempe complains, but she goes, anyway. The fact is, she already knew about Richard's holy reputation and wanted to talk with him about her experiences.

We don't learn much about Richard's inner life or his responses to Kempe, except that he seems to be in astonishment about her ability to talk—and about her resilience after an epic journey to Jerusalem. When she first visits him, Kempe asks if she can speak with him for "an hour or two" about God's love. He knows that Kempe is uneducated, and he's impressed that she can sustain such a conversation for that long.

Richard does exactly what Kempe hopes he will do: he confirms that her revelations are from God (and not from the other guy), and he becomes one of her favorite confessors and supporters. He's also recognized for his sanctity immediately after his death. Kempe makes a pilgrimage to his tomb in Norwich to thank him for the recovery of her good friend, the priest who reads to her. She probably thinks it is to Richard's merit that the fire of love engulfs her in that place and brings her many tears.