Julian of Norwich (1342 – c.1416)
“Julian of Norwich is the first writer in English who can be identified with certainty as a woman. . . .Â Apparently at the point of death from a severe illness, for which she had earlier prayed as a means to be ‘purged by he mercy of God and afterwards to live more to God’s glory’ (chapter 2), she received a series of ‘showings’ . . . so compelling and so rich in meaning that Julian understood them to come directly from God and to be messages not just to herself but to all Christians. . . . Julian is manifestly a woman of exceptional intelligence, and she shows not just an understanding of theology, the province learned male clerics, but a capacity for powerful new theological thought; moreover, her prose, while owing much to speech, is distinctive and distinguished. If she emphasizes her ignorance, describing herself as ‘a woman ignorant, weak and frail’ (ST chapter 6), this is likely to have been both out of genuine humility and so as to avoid her contemporaries’ unease with female learning, especially in theological matters.” — A.C. Spearing. “Introduction.” Julian of Norwich.Â Revelations of Divine Love. Trans. Elizabeth Spearing. London: Penguin Group, 1998, vii-ix.
AsÂ Thomas Ã KempisÂ (c. 1380 – 1471), Julian of Norwich lived in the midst of the crisis of the late medieval period.Â Although there had been relative stability and population growth in the High Middle AgesÂ (1000-1299), theÂ Late Middle Ages (1300-1500) began with the challenges brought about by “The Great Famine” (1315-1317). The Great Famine led to crime, disease, and millions dead including parents abandoning children and the older letting themselves die of starvation. “The Black Death” (1348-1350) led to the loss of 75 â€“ 200 million people, about a third of the European population. There were mass burials of plague victims. It took 150 years for Europe’s population to recover.
In the case ofÂ Julian of Norwich,Â The Black Death brought Divine Life, Love, and Light close to her. Although a quarter of the population in Norwich died (1349, 1362, 1369) and Julian was on her death bed in 1373, Julian lived. Not only did she live, but during her three days on death’s doorstep, she received 15 “divine revelations” (or showings) from God. Her friends were astonished by her miraculous healing. [Read more…] about Christian Devotional Classics: Revelations of Divine Love