Julian of Norwich

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Julian of Norwich (c. November 8, 1342 – c. 1416) is thought of as one of the greatest English mystics and was canonized by the Catholic Church. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches. Little is known of her life aside from her writings, including the date of her death. She was last known to be alive in 1416 when she was 73 years old.[1] Her name is uncertain; the name "Julian" comes from the Church of St Julian in Norwich, where she was an anchoress (a type of hermit who lives in a cell attached to the church and engages in contemplative prayer). In the 11th century, the city in southeast England was the second largest after London.

At the age of 30, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions of Jesus Christ. (They ended by the time she recovered from her illness on May 13, 1373.[2]) Julian recorded the visions soon after having them, and then wrote about them again twenty years later. The first version, called "The Short Text," is a narration of her visions. Written twenty years later, The Long Text contains her theological exploration of the meaning of the visions.[3] These visions are the source of her major work, called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (circa 1393). This is believed to be the first book written in the English language by a woman.[4] Julian became well known throughout England as a spiritual authority: the abbess Margery Kempe mentions going to Norwich to speak with her.[5]


History of Revelations

The Short Text of the Revelation of Love was finished by 1413, as noted in its introduction. The Amherst Manuscript of the fifteenth century, now in the British Library, named Julian and referred to her as still alive. She is not named in the Tudor Westminster Manuscript. She is named in the colophon to the Elizabethan Brigittine Long Text manuscript produced in exile in the Antwerp region, now known as the Paris Manuscript. In the seventeenth century, some manuscripts which were written out and preserved in the Cambrai and Paris houses of the English Benedictine nuns in exile cite her. Three of these contain her Long Text in full or in part; the two complete texts being in the British Library Sloane Collection.[6] It is believed these nuns had a preserved manuscripts of Revelations' Long Text.[6]

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