She was led to this unusual manner of life due to a mystical experience. About the age of thirty she fell ill and was not expected to survive. During this illness she experienced the “shewings” or revelations of divine love, during which Christ in his Passion offered her glimpses and hints of that which is beyond comprehension, but which brought her deep comfort.
Scholars have debated the dates of composition of the short and long texts in which Julian recorded and reflected upon her mystical experience over considerable time. Whenever composed, they are full of a depth of wisdom and clarity of thought. I commend them to reading and study and further reflection, particularly in the nimble and able translation from the Middle English by Fr. John-Julian OJN, who includes both the short and the long versions.
The drawing above is part of my “real-life icons” series, inviting us to see Julian as she may have appeared late in life, when she offered spiritual counsel to another pilgrim, Margery Kempe. I hope I have captured a regard which says, in Julian’s famous words, that “all manner of thing shall be well...”
Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG