Julian, an anchoress who lived in soli­tude in Nor­wich, Eng­land in the late 14th cen­tu­ry, received the 16 show­ings” or rev­e­la­tions of God’s love in a series of expe­ri­enced visions. The first ver­sion was a short text. The sec­ond, longer ver­sion was appar­ent­ly writ­ten some years after the first, when she had had time to pray and reflect about the teach­ings God had giv­en her. 

In the light of their thir­teen years of work on the crit­i­cal edi­tion of Show­ings, Colledge and Walsh give us this first mod­ern Eng­lish ren­der­ing from the place of Julian’s teach­ing in Catholic Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. The edi­tors present Julian as a skilled the­olo­gian and mas­ter of rhetor­i­cal style. Jean Lecler­cz, the not­ed monk, writer, and medieval­ist, in his pref­ace address­es him­self to the ques­tion, Why is this an impor­tant work today?”

Show­ings reveals a Julian who expe­ri­enced God direct­ly and not self-con­scious­ly as our moth­er.” Her rev­e­la­tions of the fem­i­nine side of God rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the tra­di­tion. Her graph­ic visions of the human­i­ty of Christ are marked by vivid imagery and detail. But the spe­cial appeal of Julian lies in her the­ol­o­gy of the all- embrac­ing full­ness of divine love. Julian is cer­tain­ly a warm and approach­able com­pan­ion for the mys­ti­cal journey.

This book is the Ren­o­varé selec­tion for the fourth ses­sion of the 2014 – 15 Book Club.



The edi­tors, Edmund Colledge, O.S.A., and James Walsh, S.J., worked for 13 years on this beau­ti­ful edi­tion. Includ­ing a detailed analy­sis of the text in the intro­duc­tion, the book also con­tains an insight­ful pref­ace from Jean Lecler­cq, who explores the rel­e­vance of Julian’s work for today. All of this, how­ev­er, is in ser­vice to these aston­ish­ing visions, giv­en to a woman whose sin­gle desire was to sur­ren­der all to God.
Doug Thorpe

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