Julian of Norwich ~ Mystic, Theologian and Anchoress

statue_of_dame_julianDo you remember that we talked some about Julian of Norwich’s theology last week?  I said in that article that we didn’t know much about her life. Well we still don’t but, I did run across an article that tells us a lot  more than I knew. To me, the people are what makes history fun. Here is Susan Abernethy

Julian of Norwich was a mystic, theologian and anchoress in late fourteenth-early fifteenth century England. Very little is known of her actual life, not even her real name. We do know she wrote two texts in English on her visions and their meaning. English was rarely used for literary purposes during Julian’s time which makes her books remarkable. But the books were also written by a woman making them even more extraordinary. And her compositions were works of theology by a woman which may explain why her books were not well known or publicized during her lifetime and for hundreds of years after she died.

From her writings, we know that Julian was most likely born in 1342. She lived in Norwich or nearby and may have been from a privileged family. Her real name is not given in her texts. She may have taken her name from the parish church of St. Julian at Conisford in Norwich where she had a cell and lived as an anchoress or perhaps her real name was Julian or Juliana which was a common name at the time. We don’t know if she married or if she had children or even if she was a nun. We don’t know how she got the education that allowed her to write her books. Julian may have learned reading and writing from her mother or from the priests in her parish. Throughout her writing it is evident she sought teachings and preaching from her local priests. Everyday medieval life was inextricably linked to the church.

Norwich at the time of Julian’s life was a vibrant town whose wealth came from sheep breeding and wool production. There was trade with the Low Countries, Zeeland and France. At the time of Julian’s birth, Norwich had a population of about ten thousand and it was the second largest city in England. She and her family would have spoken English. Latin was spoken in the churches and the merchants and upper classes spoke French. A decade after her birth, the King made English the official language of his court.

When Julian was six years old, Norwich was visited by the pestilence known as the Black Death for the first time. Julian herself survived but within a year, three quarters of the population of the city was dead. It persisted for three years. The city itself came to a standstill. There were no workers to repair roads or shepherd the sheep. The wool trade ceased. Slowly, slowly life came back to the city.

Continue reading Julian of Norwich ~ Mystic, Theologian and Anchoress « The Freelance History Writer.

All in all a fascinating woman, an interesting story, a wonderful book, and what seems to us as a romantic time as well.

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17 Responses to Julian of Norwich ~ Mystic, Theologian and Anchoress

  1. Julian’s theology was based upon the Love of God, present, but she surely did miss the doctrine of God’s justice & wrath! And without this, we simply don’t fully understand the Gospel (certainly St. Paul’s). The balance of Law/Gospel (Judeo-Christianity), that we see in Paul’s great understanding of the Letter to the Galatians and Romans, must be our measure, and only then can we begin to see the mystical lines. Our Reformers would never agree with any other Gospel! So we can and should appreciate Julian, but she must be pressed through the Reformation and Reformed Gospel. That’s the way I see it anyway. 🙂

    And again, speaking for myself, there is quite nothing “romantic” about Medieval Theology!

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    • Btw, my favorite more mystical writer is Bernard of Clariraux, (1090-1153)! Both Luther and Calvin had good words for this man and his theology. Again, see Emero Stiegman’s: An Analytical Commentary on Bernard’s, ‘On Loving God’. (Cistercian Pub. 1995)

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      • See too, btw, the rather new: The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, now in paperback. Yes, I still read Aquinas, who called himself something of an Augustinian. Aquinas read without all of the Catholic scholasticism, is quite beneficial, actually. And yes, Aquinas was an Aristotelian to degree, the deductive logic, characterized by the empirical syllogism. St. Paul as a Greco-Roman touched this! But the experience and observation of the Judeo-Christian doctrine of God with Hellenism.

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        • NEO says:

          Frankly, Father,, I have little interest, especially in your opinions, they would be much more applicable on your blog, while I do some Christianity here, this blog is mostly history and human events

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        • Well, yes indeed, we all have “opinions”, but I do try to put mine within “Theology”! I confess to little to what some mystic might have to say, unless both life and theology are looking and pressing each other!

          Btw, maybe its best if I remove, since I am just an old “theolog”, as a presbyter and pastor. Its always hard for me to compartmentalize faith and life! 🙂

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        • NEO says:

          We all have that problem on occasion, I’m mostly having a lousy day/week. Do do anything rash, my friend 🙂

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  2. the unit says:

    I’ve enjoyed lots of Father Roberts comments. However, it was the switchin’ bush outside Momma’s church that convinced me to keep quiet in church and finally see the light. Local down south red light Book thumpin’ seems not too effective, maybe dangerous like texting.
    Just sayin’…how complicated is simple faith got to be made with all these centuries of experts?

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    • NEO says:

      They are useful but, the point here was the woman’s life, which is pretty special, not her theology

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    • Good old “Unit” has simply made the point practical, life and faith cannot be separated!

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      • NEO says:

        Unit often makes more sense than we do, Fr. Robert

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        • Yes, indeed! Sorry for my sometimes overt theological mind and approach, I know it drives my wife crazy at times! And yes, we all have them lousy days and times. But let us rock on and find some good days also! 🙂

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        • NEO says:

          We be tryin’ 😉

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  3. the unit says:

    Of course redneck, and doubt you’ve heard it before. I listen to y’allses comments and messages. 🙂 So far as I can tell no dictionary.com meaning. Maybe southern community organizing for tea party activism is what it means. 🙂 Example: I’ve listened to all y’allses comments and messages and it sounds like baloney to me. 🙂

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    • NEO says:

      😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • the unit says:

      And I always love the history lesson YOU deliver to us’allses. 🙂

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      • NEO says:

        Why, thanks Unit 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Six Hundred Years- The Same Message | All Along the Watchtower

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