All shall be well - Norwich’s week of celebrations for first woman to have written a book in English
06:30 09 May 2014
Archant © 2005
She is reported to have been the first woman to write a book to survive in English and the first counsellor in history, but relatively little is known about Julian of Norwich - not even her real name.
Julian and Norwich
St Julian’s Church and the Julian Shrine are located in St Julians Alley, just off Rouen Road in Norwich.
The current church was rebuilt in 1953 after being bombed in the Second World War on one of the oldest church sites in Norwich - probably dating back to the mid-tenth Century.
The anchorhold where Julian lived was torn down in the Reformation, but there is now a shrine built on the site where it is believed to have stood.
It is open to visitors for quiet, prayer and reflection and regularly welcomes people both from Norwich and across the world.
The Julian Centre, situated next to the church in Rouen Road is a place of welcome for pilgrims, but also houses a lending library and a gift shop and offers educational programmes on Julian of Norwich.
It has offered hospitality at its seven-room guest house since the 1970s, run by Sister Pamela from the Community of All Hallows at Ditchingham.
After the church was bombed, the local community raised money for it to be rebuilt and some of the funds was used for the centre.
It was in the early 1980s, when Julian started becoming more popular, that the centre was changed from a hall used for the church to The Julian Centre - run by the charity The Friends of Julian of Norwich.
The anchoress takes her name from St Julian’s Church in the city’s Rouen Road, where she lived after receiving a series of revelations, from May 8, 1373, aged 30.
She lived alone in a room attached to the church for the rest of her life, spending most of her time in prayer and contemplation of the revelations.
“An anchoress is like being a nun but not in a convent - on her own in a small apartment attached to a parish church,” said Reverend Robert Fruehwirth, Priest Director at The Julian Centre in Norwich.
“I like to use the phrase that she became a resident holy woman to the parish.”
Records from the time indicate Julian was well-known as a wise woman, and would offer spiritual counsel to people in need who would stop at her anchorhold.
Born about 1342, Julian is best-known for her optimism in the message that God would make all things well, which is featured in her most famous quote ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’.
The quote is taken from her book Revelations of Divine Love, a much longer version of the spiritual autobiography she wrote after receiving her revelations.
Tomorrow, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will speak at Norwich Cathedral about Julian.
The event, which is open to the public, is the culmination of a week-long festival celebrating all aspects of Julian of Norwich.
Now in its 34th year, the festival originally took the form of an annual lecture but was expanded last year by Danish PHD student Louise Ohrstrom from the University of East Anglia.
Reverend Robert Fruehwirth, Priest Director at The Julian Centre said: “She started Julian Week to share with the city of Norwich the many different faces of Julian - the spiritual, the literary and poetic and the cultural. That happened last year and the week has doubled in events for this year.”
A collaboration between the Friends of Julian, Hungate Medieval Art, the Writers’ Centre Norwich, UEA and the Millennium Library, this year’s programme has included talks on Julian’s literary life, Norwich in her time, tours of the church and shrine and a concert of Julian’s words with Celtic song.
From 10.30am until 11.30am tomorrow people are invited to hear Lord Williams speak about Julian at Norwich Cathedral. No advance booking is required.
There is also a free lunchtime talk on Julian as Poet: Julian and Poetic Process at the Millennium Library today from 12.15pm to 12.45pm and a Poetry reading from Ink’s Wish at St Julian’s Church from 6.30pm to 7.15pm. Both are by Dr Sarah Law, senior lecturer in Creative Writing at London Metropolitan University.
They are followed by a free concert at the church - Julian’s words with Celtic song, from 7.45pm to 8.45pm.
For tickets visit www.julianweek.ticketsource.co.uk or call The Julian Centre on 01603 767380.