Julian of Norwich

The following was taken from The Rite for Profession of OBLATE VOWS in the Order of Julian of Norwich.


In the year of our Lord 1373, the Third Sunday after Easter fell on the eighth day of May. In the early morning hours of that day, a thirty-year-old woman lay on her death bed somewhere in Norwich, England. Two days before, she had received the Last Rites of the Church, and now it was plain that she was at the point of death. Her parish curate was sent for, and he came with his acolyte, carrying a crucifix. The feeling was gone from her waist down, and her sight began to fail as the room grew dark.

We do not know the baptismal name of that woman as she lay on her death bed. We do not know the name of her family or the name of her priest. What we do know is that she did not die! Instead, during the next eleven hours, she was granted a series of fifteen visions which opened to her mystical depths of understanding about God, the Holy Trinity, the Crucified Lord, and the life of Christians. Her full recovery was almost immediate, and the following evening, she was granted one final vision. She soon wrote down an account of these visions (or "showings", as she called them), and before long she had made the decision to give her whole life to meditation, prayer, and service. She became an anchoress - hermitess - and lived the rest of her life in a small cell (or anchorhold) attached to the southeast corner of the little parish church of St. Julian in Norwich. As was the custom for an anchoress of the time, she assumed the name of the patron saint of the parish church, and so became known as that great figure of late medieval mysticism: Dame Julian of Norwich.

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