Mother of Mystics

As Mother’s Day dawns, I’m compelled to note that today the church honors the mothering mystic 15th Century icon: St. Julian of Norwich, Enigma and Anchoress.

We know little about St. Julian, though she left us a treasure trove of writings from which to grow from. She became an anchoress of St. Julian’s Church in Norwich, a statement which means little to our ears, but explains that she lived in a shack adjacent to a particular church, in exile and voluntarily alone. She sought the contemplative life without distraction, and at the time this was seen as a benefit to her and her insights. We would later know it was certainly a benefit for our collective knowledge, but may have done her personal harm in the long run.

St. Julian called her insights “showings,” and she has recorded fifteen of them for the world. She was only around thirty years old when these visions happened to her, and they show both her admiration for the Divine and what she believes the Divine was showing her. In these experiences she recounts a God who is close, intimate, and “homely,” according to her description. She draws upon scripture and other medieval writings of the time to extrapolate on these extraordinary experiences.

St. Julian (sometimes called Dame Julian) was sought out for her wisdom. Though she lived as a recluse, others traveled far to hear her thoughts and seek her guidance.

St. Julian of Norwich died in the year 1417, and has long been honored on May 7th or May 8th by much of the church.

My favorite quote of hers, which was scribed while she was on her death bed, is, “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

She is a reminder to me, and should be for the whole church, that insight into the Divine can happen to anyone, anywhere. And sometimes the most feeble amongst us holds the most acute lens.

-historical bits taken from Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals & Commemorations

-icon written by Marcy Hall of Rabbitroomarts:

1 thought on “Mother of Mystics

  1. St. Julian’s “All shall be well” quotation came into my life with its comfort at a moment when I truly needed it, and I always appreciate being reminded of it. And now, thanks to this wonderful illustration, I can picture her cradling a cat in her arms.

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