Pope sends message of blessing to all participating in events marking 650th anniversary of Revelations of Julian of Norwich

Pope Francis has sent a message of blessing to all participating in the events marking the 650th anniversary of the Revelations of Mother Julian of Norwich, the medieval mystic and anchoress.

The Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Peter Collins and Anglican Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, were delighted to receive a message from Pope Francis last week. It was read to the congregation at a special anniversary service in Norwich Anglican Cathedral today, Sunday 14th May.

In his message, Pope Francis speaks about Mother Julian’s “profound significance” and how her words can bring consolation and strength to “all who face the pressing challenges of war, injustice, ecological disaster or spiritual poverty”.

Echoing words used at the Coronation of King Charles III, the Pope expresses his hope that through a greater appreciation of her life Christians will “follow ever more faithfully and joyfully the example of Jesus, the one who came ‘not to be served but to serve’”.

Bishop Graham and Bishop Peter, in an ecumenical gesture of their friendship and partnership in the Gospel, said in a joint statement: “We are very grateful to Pope Francis for his blessing and his generous message about the significance of Mother Julian’s writing, not only for this fine city of Norwich, but in its contemporary relevance for all people. As we mark the 650th anniversary of her Revelations, and enjoy a series of events and pilgrimages based around her Shrine in Norwich, we are delighted that Catholics, Anglicans and Christians of other denominations, will be coming together to pray and be inspired by Julian’s life and witness to God in Jesus.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby said:

“I am delighted to send my greetings for the celebrations of the 650thanniversary of Mother Julian’s revelations. I am sure she never foresaw the extraordinary influence and inspiration she would provide for generations of Christians, and especially for women. I’m glad that her shrine is honoured and maintained today, and pray that it will continue to flourish. I wish all of you well for the celebrations.”

Full text of Papal message:

I was pleased to be informed that over the course of this year, pilgrims from across the world are gathering in the Catholic and Anglican cathedrals of Norwich to mark the 650th anniversary of the “Shewings” of Mother Julian of Norwich, and I send the assurance of my spiritual closeness to those taking part in the various ecumenical celebrations.

The profound significance of this English mystic for the Christian tradition speaks to us from across the centuries and is increasingly being acknowledged and celebrated. Indeed, her maternal influence, humble anonymity, and profound theological insights stand as timely reminders that faith in God’s loving providence and holiness of life expressed in generous service to our brothers and sisters in need, are timeless truths underpinning not only the life of Christian discipleship but the very fabric of a just and fraternal society.

Of particular note is Julian’s generosity in welcoming those who sought spiritual counsel and encouragement. This willingness to sacrifice self-convenience for the sake of others is especially needed in responding to the endemic problems of isolation and loneliness felt by so many in the more materially affluent nations of the world. In this regard, it is my hope that through a greater appreciation of the life of Mother Julian, Christians today will be encouraged to follow ever more faithfully and joyfully the example of Jesus, the one who came “not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28).

How vital, too, for today’s world, is the message of God’s mercy and compassion revealed to Mother Julian. In her Revelations of Divine Love, we learn that she was taught through God’s grace that, despite the presence of evil in our midst, “all manner of thing shall be well” (Chapter 32). In this regard, I pray that all who face the pressing challenges of war, injustice, ecological disaster or spiritual poverty, may be consoled and strengthened by these enduring words of wisdom.

To all those participating in the commemorative events, I willingly impart my Blessing, as a pledge of Almighty God’s tender mercy and compassionate love for all his children.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 8th May 2023

Julian of Norwich

Julian lived in Norwich in the 14th and early 15th century, and spent much of her life as an anchorite, a vowed religious living by herself in a small room, called an anchorhold, attached to the parish church of St Julian. Julian experienced visions from God 650 years ago and, by writing them down, became the first woman writer in the English language . “The Revelations of Love” is an account of and the fruit of 20 years’ reflection on a series of visions which revealed to Julian the depths of God’s unconditioned love for us in Jesus Christ.