Nursery Rhymes

Julian of Norwich

Medieval life and Times

Short Biography about the life of Julian of Norwich
The following biography, short history and interesting facts provide helpful information for history courses and history coursework about the life and history of Julian of Norwich who was famous as Medieval mystic and Anchoress.

  • Country of Origin / Nationality: English

  • Name and/or Title: The real name of Julian is unknown. She was referred to as Dame Julian by Margery Kempe, As an anchoress attached to the church of St. Julian at Conisford in Norwich
  • It is believed she took the name of the Saint Julian after whom the church was named
  • Lifetime: 1342 - 1412
  • Time Reference: Lived during the reign of the English Kings; Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV
  • Born: She was born on November 8, 1342 in Norwich, where she lived all her life
  • Early Life: Julian showed no inclination towards living a religious life until she was in her late twenties. Julian then became seriously ill and thought she was dying. During her illness she had religious visions. After her recovery she made the decision to become an anchoress
  • Life of an anchoress: She was enclosed as an anchoress at the Church of St. Julian in Norwich
  • Character: Julian was a highly practical and woman noted for her optimism and her joyful outlook on life
  • Died: Julian of Norwich died at Norwich in her anchorage at the Church of St. Julian
  • Accomplishments and Achievements or why Julian of Norwich was famous: Julian of Norwich wrote her text 'Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love' about her vision and religious meditations. The book was believed to be the first book written in English by a woman
  • Julian of Norwich was famous for saying, "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well".

Julian of Norwich
The story and biography of Julian of Norwich which contains interesting information, facts & the history about the life of this Medieval woman of historical importance. Julian of Norwich had a life threatening illness during which she experienced visions. She recovered from the illness and decided to become an anchoress. The life of an anchoress was entered with joy by Julian of Norwich and not as duty. Julian would have gone through a difficult process to gain permission to be an anchoress. Permission would have been granted by the Bishop of Norwich after vetting Julian for her suitability and whether their were sufficient funds available to support her for the rest of her life. Being and anchoress entailed being incarcerated for life in a cell attached to the Church of St. Julian. The ceremony prior to  the enclosure of Julian in her anchorage would have included a vigil, mass, chanting and a procession to the anchorage which would have included a funeral service where Julian would have received the last rites.

Julian would have had three windows in her cell or anchorage. The window called the Squint was to open into the church so that the anchoress could receive communion and follow the church services. The second window provided access to her attendant who would deliver food and remove any waste. The third window provided visitors with the means to talk to Julian asking for her advice and prayers. All Julian had in the cell was a crucifix, a hard bed and a small altar. Her clothes would have been plain consisting of a kirtle with a mantle, black head-dress, wimple, cape or veil. During her life as an anchoress Julian wrote the details of her visions in English in a book called 'Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love'. Many people visited Julian of Norwich. Not just the local villages but other important Medieval people of the Middle Ages seeking her advice and comfort.

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