During the middle Ages about the time of 1300-1350 there seemed to be turmoil throughout the world. Wars were raging in many principalities of Europe, there were many outbreaks of Black Plague, there was political unrest during the Peasants Revolt, and there were cattle plagues and poor harvests. All seemed dark and hopeless. We call this time the ‘Dark ages’
A young woman who has been named Julian lived in Norwich England. She lived in Norwich all her life and for much of her time she lived as an anchoress in her cell which was attached to St. Julian’s Church in Norwich. Nothing is known for certain about Julian’s actual name, family, or education, or of her life prior to her becoming an anchoress. At age thirty she became seriously ill and was thought to be on her deathbed. During this time she received a series of visions or “shewings” of the passion of Christ. She recovered and wrote of her visions in two volumes. The Protestant Reformation prevented their publication, but her manuscripts were carefully kept by the Benedictine Nuns.
It is known that during her time in isolation from people many came to her ‘grill’ to seek guidance, advice, and a benediction as they were living through the horrors of the ever present pandemic of the Black Plague. In her cell she had a cat for company, which no doubt kept out the rats that were carrying the plague with their fleas. Julian comforted many people by repeating her mantra of: “All shall be well and all shall be well”. She was able to share her love of God with others and they were able to face the grave death that came with the plague. Over half of the population of Norwich was taken by the plague.
Her book re-emerged in print in 1901 as Revelations of Divine Love. To this day, this book is being revisited by many people. Julian is referred to as a mystic, that is one who has a deep experience and spiritual commitment with God. Today the church considers her to be a theologian in her own right. Her teachings of faith and life in the passion of Christ has captured many readers and has shown that, in spite of the horrors of the world, all will be well in the love of God.
Among her many writings she wrote, “For I saw no wrath except on man’s side, and He forgives that in us, for wrath is nothing else but a perversity and an opposition to peace and to love.” Julian of Norwich is, for us today in our pandemic, a voice of compassion and love. “All shall be well and all shall be well!”