Today we pray with JULIAN OF NORWICH
She was born around the year 1342 but little is known of the life of Julian – even her name is taken from the church to which her anchorite cell was attached. She appears to have come from a comfortably-off family at a time when Norwich was the second largest city in England. At the age of 30, while still at home, Julian suffered a severe illness from which she was expected to die. During her illness she experienced mystical visions of Jesus Christ, and on her recovery on 13 May 1373 she immediately set down the content of these visions in the Revelations of Divine Love. Some twenty to thirty years later she wrote a longer treatise, explaining the theology behind the visions. Her writings were not widely known in mediaeval England, and indeed it was not until the second half of the 20th century that she became popular. Some of this popularity may be ascribed simply to the fact that she was a woman, and her writings are the earliest by a woman known in English literature. Rather more important for us is her essential optimism about God and humanity, sin and forgiveness, in an age of terrible suffering, when sickness was widely regarded as divine punishment. She is not a ‘universalist’ in the modern sense of that word but poses the question made famous in the 20th century by Hans Urs von Balthasar, ‘Dare we hope that all men will be saved?’
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