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Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:

Very few details are known about the life of Julian of Norwich. She was an anchoress who lived in a special cell attached to the parish church of St. Julian, which may account for her name. She was the first woman to write a book in English. Some feel that she originally belonged to a community of Benedictine nuns because she had more formal learning than most women of her day. Others feel that because her writings show such a deep understanding of what it means to be a mother, she was a laywoman who may have lost her husband and children when the plague swept through Norwich in 1361.

When she was thirty years old she was intensely sick and came close to death. At this time she had a number of visions of Christ on the cross. She recovered and lived many more years, writing down what she had seen and learned from her visions. The themes which run most strongly through her writings are the motherhood of God and God’s mercy towards weak humankind. "So Jesus is our true Mother in nature by our first creation, and He is our true Mother in grace by His taking our created nature."

Her hermit’s cell was a simple structure with a window that opened onto the interior of the church and its altar, and another that opened for those who came to her from the street, seeking counsel and merely a listening ear. In this icon she is shown at the latter window with her cat, listening to those who come to her with their problems, fears, and woes.

The Anglican Church keeps her feast as May 8.

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Julian of Norwich quotes

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
—Julian of Norwich

“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”
—Julian of Norwich

“He said not 'Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased'; but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome.”
—Julian of Norwich

“If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”
—Julian of Norwich

“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.”
—Julian of Norwich

“... so our customary practice of prayer was brought to mind: how through our ignorance and inexperience in the ways of love we spend so much time on petition. I saw that it is indeed more worthy of God and more truly pleasing to him that through his goodness we should pray with full confidence, and by his grace cling to him with real understanding and unshakeable love, than that we should go on making as many petitions as our souls are capable of.”
—Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Born: c.1342

Died: c.1423

Beatified: Never formally beatified, but considered "blessed" due to popular devotion