A Prayer of Julian of Norwich.
A prayer of Julian of Norwich
In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are our mother, brother, and Saviour. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace.
You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well. Amen
Julian is remembered on May 8th and here are a few thoughts about her:
Julian of Norwich.
In 1373, when she was 30 years old, an Englishwoman had a visionary experience during a serious illness. After she had thought about it — perhaps soon after the experience, perhaps as much as fifteen years later — she wrote a brief account of the visions and what they meant to her. But in 1393, she was still meditating on her experience and perhaps had begun to write a longer, more theologically-centred analysis. By 1394 she had become an anchorite, living in a cell attached to the parish church of St. Julian in Norwich (which may be the reason for the name we know her by); she was visited there by Margery Kempe in about 1413, and she was still living there in 1416.
This is all we know of Julian’s life. Some scholars believe that she was at one time a member of a religious community; others think not. Some think that she wrote out her book (which modern editors call Showings or Revelations of Divine Love); others believe that the work was dictated.
We do know from Showings that she was well-read in scripture and in spiritual works, both older and contemporary, so somewhere she had access to a good library. Her writing style is not the least bit naive: she handles complex thoughts clearly and is rhetorically effective. The rhetoric is perhaps easier to see in the first, shorter text; the complexity in the later, longer text.
Julian’s emphasis on God’s love and desire for human salvation becomes more significant when one thinks of the period in which she wrote. The Black Death came not only in 1349; it came again and again for over a century. The Church on whose faith Julian relied was in schism, with two or more popes claiming authority, from 1378 to 1417. Monastic writers and parish priests were teaching that all this was a punishment from an angry God. It is as if Julian saw the need to offer an antidote to the pervasive fear of sin and death and damnation; in her texts, she did just that.
Alan Oldfield, ‘The Revelations of Julian of Norwich’, Friends of Julian of Norwich, St Gabriel’s Chapel, Community of All Hallows, Ditchingham, Bungay, Suffolk.