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Quaker Tour of England, Page 20 of 22 Norwich
Norwich Cathedral photos by Bill Samuel, 27-28 June 1998
Mother Julian pane at Norwich Cathedral photo by Bill Samuel, 28 June 1998
Norwich Cathedral, officially named The Cathedral of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, is a magnificent Norman building with the second tallest cathedral spire in England. The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid in 1096, and the bulk of the cathedral was complete by 1145. Much of it remains in its 12th century form.
Mother Julian's Church, Norwich photo by Bill Samuel, 28 June 1998
Mother Julian's Cell photo by Bill Samuel, 28 June 1998
Julian of Norwich
Julian of Norwich (1342-c. 1429) was a mystic and the first woman to write a book in English. We don't know her name before she took the name Julian, and we're not sure exactly when she died.
When she was 30, Julian became seriously ill. Two days after she received the Last Rites of the Church, she was granted a series of 15 visions which opened to her mystical depths of understanding about God, the Holy Trinity, the crucified Lord, and the life of Christians. Almost immediately after these visions, which occurred over a period of 11 hours, she fully recovered. The following evening, she received one final vision.
After that experience, Julian became an anchoress and lived in a small cell (or anchorhold) attached to the parish church of St. Julian in Norwich. An anchoress was a woman called to a solitary life, but one anchored in the world rather than cut off from it. She lived a life of prayer and contemplation, and gave spiritual advice to those that sought her out.
During her life as an anchoress, Julian recorded her revelations in a book called Revelations of Divine Love. Julian's writings remained obscure and generally unavailable until they were finally published in 1901. In the 20th century, her book has become a devotional classic read and appreciated by a wide assortment of Christians, including many Friends (Quakers).
While the world around her suffered great plagues, wars, and the schism of the Church in England, Julian remained focused on the nurturing of God's love, a love like that of a tender, loving mother. She felt that there is no wrath in God, but this is is a perception of our own wrath upon him. She did not make a big division between body and soul, finding God in our "sensuality" as well as in our "substance." She felt that knowledge of God and knowledge of self are inseparable; we cannot know one without the other.
Today, the church to which Julian's cell was attached is a shrine to her. In 1982, the Order of Julian of Norwich was founded as a contemplative monastic order in the Episcopal Church.
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Document last modified on Friday, 17-Mar-2006 18:48:46 EST