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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love. A rave.

Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love, written between the 1370s and the 1420s, is the first book we know of written by a woman in the English language.

That's reason enough to celebrate by itself.

We know very little indeed about Julian herself. We don't know if she was ever married, or whether she was a lay person or a nun. We don't even know if her name was Julian (though it wasn't an unusual name for women around that time) or whether she actually came from Norwich (though she probably did come from somewhere close).

We do know, however, a little about the beginnings of Revelations of Divine Love. When Julian was thirty she had a very serious illness, and during this illness she had what she believed to be a series of visions of Christ.

When she was recovered she wrote down these visions (this is The Short Text), of which only one fairly early copy remains.

Over the next forty five years or so Julian thought deeply about these visions, and eventually, over the course of many years, she wrote The Long Text (of which, again, only one early copy survives), which consists of a series of meditations upon her experience.

The church of SS Andrew and Mary - St Julian of Norwich - - 1547398.jpg

What does Julian have to say? Well, she lived in a time of plague, revolt, and famine, and yet she believed that God was both mother and father of us all; that sin is a way of guiding people to do the right thing; and that, in her most famous saying, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

And whether or not you believe any of it, that must be a shining example of faith, hope and charity.

Word To Use Today: divine. This word comes from the Latin dīvus, a god.

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