Julian of Norwich Belated Tribute

 I forgot that this week saw the feast of Julian of Norwich so this is a belated tribute.

She is author of this often quoted saying:
All shall be well and all shall be well
and all manner of things
shall be well."

Juliana of Norwich was born in England in about 1342. 

Almost nothing is known of her early life; we don’t even know if she was from Norwich or chose to move there. She was a recluse under the direction of Benedictine monks in Norwich, England. 

A mystic, visionary, and writer, she was illiterate and dictated to a scribe. Her book, Revelations of Divine Love, which contains sixteen revelations she received while in an ecstatic trance, is still in print. 

Juliana meditated, spoke, and wrote on the power of love, of evil, Christ’s Passion, and the nature of the Trinity. In her early 60s she shut herself in complete seclusion (albeit with a cat),  as an anchoress in a small room attached to the church of St Julian in Norwich and never left until her death in about 1423.

She belongs to a great flowering of medieval English mysticism but unlike the Rhineland mystics, Julian and the other English mystics did not live in a religious community, and Julian lived a hermit's life.

Revelations of Divine Love is frequently cited as the first English-language book published by a woman. An online version of the text is here

Julian's theology was particular optimistic, especially considering the times in which she lived.

She lived in a tumultuous time, the Black Death was raging in Europe. The Hundred Years' War between England and France had begun in 1337, as did the papal schism in which two popes each suspected the other of being the Antichrist. Famine and cattle disease contributed to the forces that caused the Peasants' Revolt, and John Wycliff and his followers, the Lollards, were declared heretics. Some were burned and buried near Julian's church cell. She must have been aware of the suffering of the time.

She saw God as a Mother and Father—perhaps the first Catholic writer to express this idea—and believed that God feels no wrath toward mankind but will one day make "all things well." 

She wrote the following on prayer:-
"Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it. It does good, though you feel nothing. Yes, even though you think you are doing nothing.

Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness. This is our Lord's will, ... that our prayer and our trust be, alike, large. For if we do not trust as much as we pray, we fail in full worship to our Lord in our prayer; and also we hinder and hurt ourselves. 
The reason is that we do not know truly that our Lord is the ground from which our prayer springeth; nor do we know that it is given us by his grace and his love. 

If we knew this, it would make us trust to have of our Lord's gifts all that we desire. For I am sure that no man asketh mercy and grace with sincerity, without mercy and grace being given to him first".

Julian is quoted by T.S. Eliot in the Four Quartets:

Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well

By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching

Although never formally canonized, she is commemorated in the Catholic Church on May 13, and in Anglican and Lutheran churches on May 8.

Further Reading here from
The Motherhood of God (extracts from Divine Revelations of Love)
World Encyclopedia
Wounded Bird

This brief video gives some insight into the life of an anchoress in the UK in  medieval times.

No comments: