In Search of Julian of Norwich (paperback)

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IN SEARCH OF JULIAN OF NORWICH


This is a spiritual detective story. Who was Julian? Why has she become so famous? Why did her writings disappear for centuries? Why is everyone reading them today? This fascinating illustrated exploration of Julian's world -- her city, her century, and her remarkable book (the first written by a woman in English!) -- uncovers clues to the exciting mystery that is Julian. Paperback, 92 pages.

Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich (ca. 8 November 1342 – ca. 1416) was an English anchoress who is regarded as one of the most important Christian mystics. Julian spent much of her life as an anchorite, that is, as a vowed religious living by herself in a small room attached to the parish church of St. Julian. Beyond this, little is actually known about Dame Julian, as she was called. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, but has never been canonized, or officially beatified, by the Catholic Church, probably because so little is known of her life aside from her writings. There is also scholarly debate as to whether Julian was a nun in a nearby convent, or even a laywoman. Even her name is uncertain, the name "Julian" coming from the church to which her cell was attached.

At the age of 30 and a half, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions of Jesus Christ. They ended by the time she recovered from her illness on 13 May 1373. She was at home during her near death experience, and gives no mention of her personal life up until that point. Julian wrote down a narration of the visions immediately following them; twenty to thirty years later she wrote a theological exploration of the meaning of the visions, which are the source of her major work, called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (ca. 1393). This is believed to be the first book written in the English language by a woman. Julian became well known throughout England as a spiritual authority: the English mystic (and author of the first known autobiography written in England) Margery Kempe mentions going to Norwich to speak with her.

Julian's writings are noted for their spiritual depth and theological courage, for their literary elegance and the spirit of joy and humility that permeates them. In a medieval church which emphasized God's condemning wrath, Julian wrote, 'There is no wrath in God….It is the most impossible thing that can be that God would be angry, for wrath and friendship are two opposites.' Just as striking is Julian's perception of the feminine element in God. 'As truly as God is our Father,' Julian wrote, 'so truly God is our Mother.' Unparalleled in English religious literature, her Revelations spans the most profound mysteries of the Christian faith—such as the problems of predestination, the foreknowledge of God, and the existence of evil. The clarity and depth of her perception, the precision and accuracy of her theological presentation, and the sincerity and beauty of her expression reveal a mind and personality of exceptional strength and charm.