Julian of Norwich
- Published: Sunday, 21 April 2019 14:33
Ananya Sri Ram Rajan – USA
He showed me a little thing the size of a hazelnut, in the palm of my hand, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind's eye and I thought, 'What can this be?' And the answer came, 'It is all that is made'. I marveled that it could last, for I thought it might have crumbled to nothing, it was so small. And the answer came into my mind, 'It lasts and ever shall because God loves it'. And all things have being through the love of God. From: Revelations of Divine Love
Julian of Norwich
There is little concrete information about the life of Julian of Norwich. It is written that she was born around 1342 and died sometime after 1416. When she was thirty, she fell severely ill and it was believed she would die. It is during this time that she received sixteen visions on May 8, 1373 which led to the publication of Revelations of Divine Love. Revelations of Divine Loveis thought to be the first book from the Middle Ages ever written in English and, that too, by a woman. Her recollections of the visions (known as the “short text”) and her meditations on what she had been shown (written twenty years later and known as “the long text”) have been a great source of comfort to many. A scan of the cover of the long text of her book states that she was known as “Mother Julian, an Anchorite of Norwich who lived in the days of King Edward the third.”
There is some suggestion that Julian was a Benedictine nun from Carrow Abbey, but it is not known for certain. She, however, was definitely an anchoress of St. Julian Church in Norwich which is most likely how she receive her name. For those not familiar with the term, an anchoress was a woman who walled herself in a cell next to a church as way to contemplate and create a relationship with God. Julian was given three small openings, one to receive communion, one to receive her food and dispose of her waste, and another to give counsel to the public.
Julian’s real name is unknown as she gave little information about herself. What is known about her is based on records of donations and bequests left to her. She regularly gave counsel to various people from all walks of life and was a popular anchoress. This despite there being restrictions, according to the Ancrene Wisse(an instruction manual for anchoresses) as to how often an anchoress was to meet with the public. An anchoress was to spend her time as a recluse contemplating God and leaving behind the day to day world. However, many did little of that.