This week some churches will be remembering Julian of Norwich. She lived in the 14th century in the city of Norwich. Little is known about her background. Her name, Julian, is taken from St Julian which is the name of the church she lived next to – we don’t know the name her family would have known her by. Most of what we do know about her comes from her writings, “Revelations of Divine Love” which is the earliest example of women’s writing in English that we have. (There may have been others but they are lost in the mists of time.)

She wrote about her experiences of suffering a severe, life-threatening illness. As she recovered she had a series of vision, or “Showings”, about God, the Trinity, the world, suffering and love. The book is a record of what happened and include her reflections about the meaning of her visions. Typically she would say what she saw and felt and then continue with what she had learnt or understood from that particular experience.

“Revelations of Divine Love” is a classic of English spirituality and is well worth a read – but not at one sitting!

You might think that Julian is obscure but you might recognise this quote: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”.

This is another: “Our Lord never said, ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted’. But he does say, ‘You shall not be overcome’.”

And then, in one vision, she sees the whole creation the size of a nut being held in the palm of God’s hand. “He’s got the whole world in his hand” comes to mind.

A prayer for St Julian of Norwich’s day (8th May)

Almighty and most merciful God, you hold the whole universe together and sustain it with your love. As we recall the revelation of divine love to your servant Lady Julian, give us wisdom to learn knowledge of your truth both in suffering and in joy. We make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Saviour, who lives and reign with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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