Rogier van der Weyden, Portrait of a Woman With a Winged Bonnet – The Culturium

Julian of Norwich also known as Juliana of Norwich, was born in 1343. Details of her family, education, or life before becoming an anchoress are not known; It has been speculated that she was educated as a young girl by the Benedictine nuns of Carrow Abbey, as a school for girls existed there during her childhood.

Julian lived in the English city of Norwich, an important center of commerce that also had a vibrant religious life. She lived there in permanent seclusion as an anchoress in her cell, which was attached to St Julian’s Church, Norwich. Four wills are known in which sums were bequeathed to a Norwich anchoress named Julian, and an account by the celebrated mystic Margery Kempe exists which provides evidence of counsel Kempe was given by the anchoress. Julian was an anchoress from at least the 1390s. Living in her cell, she would have played an important part within her community, devoting herself to a life of prayer to complement the clergy in their primary function as protectors of souls.

In 1373, aged 30 and so seriously ill she thought she was on her deathbed, Julian received a series of visions or shewings of the Passion of Christ. She recovered from her illness and wrote two versions of her experiences, the earlier one being completed soon after her recovery—a much longer version, today known as The Long Text, was written many years later.

Preferring to write anonymously, and seeking isolation from the world, she was very influential in her lifetime. While her writings were carefully preserved, the Reformation prevented their publication. The Long Text was first published in 1670 by the Catholic Benedictine monk Serenus de Cressy, reissued by George Hargreaves Parker in 1843, and published in a modernized version in 1864. Julian’s writings emerged from obscurity in 1901 when a manuscript in the British Museum was transcribed and published with notes by Grace Warrack; many translations have been made since.

Today Julian is considered to be an important Christian mystic and theologian. According to Leyser, she was the greatest English anchoress. Julian lived in a time of turmoil, but her theology was optimistic and spoke of God’s omnibenevolence and love in terms of joy and compassion. Revelations of Divine Love “contains a message of optimism based on the certainty of being loved by God and of being protected by his Providence”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes from Revelations of Divine Love in its explanation of how God can draw a greater good, even from evil.

Julian’s writings indicate that she was born in 1343 or late 1342, and died after 1416. She is remembered in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 8 May. The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States also commemorate her on 8 May.

References:

Accessed Wikipedia.org 07 May 2022.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1526Pope Clement VII addressed a brief to the Observantine Franciscans, empowering them to receive all Lutherans desiring to return to the Catholic Church without the severe penalties decreed by Pope Leo X and others.

1792 – Moravian missionary David Zeisberger established a mission at Oxford, Canada.

1816 – Sixty representatives of American churches and regional Bible societies who have gathered in the Garden Street Reformed Church, New York City, resolve to form the American Bible Society. Three days later they will adopt its constitution.

1947 – Editor Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Constitution wrote, “The Rev. J. Frank Norris and others like him, is one good, sound reason why there are 50,000,000 Americans who do not belong to any church at all.”

2013 – The executive committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches meets for a week in Ghana, the homeland of its global leader, theologian, and pastor Setri Nyomi.

Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com 07 May 2022.

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