Julian of Norwich was an English anchoress of the Middle Ages who received a series of visions or “shewings” of the Passion of Christ in 1373. Her writings on the subject, now known as the Revelations of Divine Love, are thought to be the earliest surviving English-language works by a woman.
Pope Francis sent a message on Friday 12 May, to pilgrims from across the world who throughout the year are gathering in the Catholic and Anglican cathedrals of the English city of Norwich to mark the 650th anniversary of the Shewings of Mother Julian of Norwich.
The Pope assured pilgrims of his spiritual closeness to those taking part in the various ecumenical celebrations. In his message, Pope Francis said:
“the profound significance of this English mystic for the Christian tradition speaks to us from across the centuries and is increasingly being acknowledged and celebrated.”
He added, “her maternal influence, humble anonymity, and profound theological insights stand as timely reminders that faith in God’s loving providence and holiness of life expressed in generous service to our brothers and sisters in need, are timeless truths underpinning not only the life of Christian discipleship but the very fabric of a just and fraternal society.”
Pope Francis went on to stress that of particular note is Julian’s generosity in welcoming those who sought spiritual counsel and encouragement.
Bringing his message to a close, Pope Francis noted how Mother Julian’s message of God’s mercy and compassion continues to be vital for today’s world.
Julian of Norwich wrote:
Throughout the time of my showings, I wished to know what our Beloved meant. More than fifteen years later, the answer came in a spiritual vision. This is what I heard.
“Would you like to know our Lord’s meaning in all this? Know it well: love was his meaning. Who revealed it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why did he reveal it to you? For love. Stay with this and you will know more of the same. You will never know anything but love, without end”.
And so what I saw most clearly was that love was his meaning. God wants us to know that he loved us before he even made us, and his love has never diminished and never will. All his actions unfold from this love, and through this love he makes everything that happens of value to us, and in this love we find everlasting life. Our creation has a starting point, but the love in which he made us has no beginning, and this love is our true source.
Thanks be to God!
(Translation text above, from Ch. 86, page 224 – ‘Julian of Norwich: The Showings – A Contemporary Translation’, by Mirabai Starr, Published Canterbury Press Norwich, 2014).