Today marks the feast of Dame Julian of Norwich in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, and by blessed serendipity, my one year of affiliation with the Order of Julian of Norwich — the feast day is actually on May 8th, but as a minor feast it is moved when the feast day falls on a Sunday.
She was believed to be an anchoress attached to the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England — of her personal life we know almost nothing, save from her visions and her remarkable theological explorations of them — in a near-death experience, Blessed Julian received visions of Jesus Christ, which she wrote down as what we now call the Short Text; the expanded version, which she wrote several decades later, the Revelations of Divine Love, is believed to be first book written in the English language by a woman.
This fact alone is quite remarkable — what makes it even more so is how hopeful and progressive her vision was. Amidst Black Death epidemics and revolts, her vision is that of a God of Love, not one who punishes the wicked. In a patriarchal society, she casts Jesus as a universal mother. This love is expressed in her most oft-quoted line: All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well — a remarkable and soothing expression of trust!
The collect for the day, from the Episcopal church’s Holy Women, Holy Men. In Rite II (contemporary language), since that’s what the Order uses (those who, like me, have an attachment to the language of the King James Bible can find that version in HWHM):
Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady
Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining
love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all
things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Find out more about Dame Julian on the Episcopal Church’s HWHM blog — and if you feel drawn to the vision of this remarkable woman for the church, the Order of Julian of Norwich and the Friends of Julian would love to hear from you.