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Julian of Norwich

In “From A Book of Showings to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich,” Julian is a character that has vivid visions when she is sick, where she sees and almost feels Jesus. She is well studied in the passages from the bible, and she often sounds like she was quoting from the bible in her words and her tone seems like the voice of a priest were in her head, giving her a sermon of what her visions meant and what she needed to understand. The connections to the bible Julian makes are exciting, and only a very devoted person like her would make in such a weird state she is in, sick and delusional.

Julian describes the images of Jesus very vividly as he is on the cross with persuasive and very descriptive words. She describes how the blood from his head goes down is head and that all this pain was for us’s love. Her opening lines in that section are spent describing how the blood slowly makes its way down from his head; it is almost like we were giving a 3d view of what she is seeing in her visions; “The great drops of blood fell fro under the garland like pellets, seeming as it had come out of the veins” (375). This vivid image reminds me of the candles around the church, or around everywhere around that time Julian lived, one would be familiar with how the wax burned, and it slowly would freeze/cold off just after leaving the area the flame is. As a kid and I used to go to church, my grandmother would give me a stick candle whenever we went to pray during the day or night. It was always quiet, and while praying, the wax burning was still a point of focus during that quiet time. I can imagine how Julian’s sickness would have made her see the blood so vividly and compare it to what she knew burning wax in a candle.
Her strong faith in God and her sickness made her see everything more “real” and having a very imaginative mind one would come to that conclusion, however, I find interesting how she ties it back to the bible; “and when it [blood] came at the brows there they vanished, and notwithstanding bleeding continued till many things were seen and understood” (375-376). Here she sounds like Mathew or Marks Gospel, I am not familiar with all their Gospels, but it is the style they would write in. It would be like that third-person view of things, even if they were present during the events. Like in the case of the apostles when they saw all this happened to Jesus. I do not know if I am reading too much into this, but from what I understand, it means to Julian that until she realizes the suffering that Jesus went through, Jesus will stop bleeding. For Julian, this must have been a hard “reality” to grasp since she was supposed to understand the suffering Jesus went through. Later in the book, she understands what this means and sees Jesus in a new light.

She finds her vision to be a sign that Jesus is there with her in her pain and her sickness. I would imagine that a person like her would felt “realized” since a vision like this would be the ultimate sign that Jesus loved them. She says, “So homely and so courteous, and this most fulfilled me with liking and sickness in the soul” (376). The peace for her soul that she needs and desires is finally coming to her, she thinks, the peace that she was always looking for. Jesus provides her with that peace with the vision, and she feels overwhelmed with all that is happening to her. The peace of soul is something Christians have always seek, and this reminds me when my grandmother used to tell me that if I had a dirty and sinful soul, I would have bad dreams and feel as if an evil presence was after me (the devil), I would think that something similar happened during the times Julian lived. But, more than that, I think she feels her prayers finally answered and that she has found the perfect Jesus that is homely and courteous.
She describes Jesus as “a solemn King, or great lord may do to a poor servant if he will be homely with him, and namely, if he shows it himself of full meaning” (376). Also, she thinks that Jesus is showing her his love with the vision. The perfect Christ, she describes Jesus as caring and lovely. She sees her vivid visions as a reward for her loyalty to Jesus. I think she gets this confused with the imaginary love she feels from Jesus, but it is understandable since she had been conditioned to know the love of Jesus and nothing else, maybe she found refuge in him.
Julian compares Jesus to a husband, perhaps is her husband in her mind. I find this interesting because first, she saw him as the creator of everything and then as the perfect husband, later on in the story as the ideal father and mother. I think Jesus represents perfection to her. I believe Julian can give us a preview of the priorities that people like in her condition had. First came to the creator, then the husband, the father, and last the mother. But, for her, the most important part of Jesus, I think, is the part of him being a husband that is there to support her emotionally and physically. She devotes her soul and body to Jesus since she was there to be all for Jesus, and it was her choice when she because of an anchoress.

She finally says during the section, “for in faith with hope and belief which be worshipful to be known” (376). Here again, she speaks like an apostle and reflects Christians’ points of view in the New Testament that there will always be hope as long as there is belief. With her vision, she proved that with enough faith, people might experience what she did and that it is a fantastic experience. In the middle of all her craziness, I think she manages to bring something that the bible and priest have embedded in her mind that if one loses hope, everything is lost, and as the old saying goes, “hope is the last thing to die.” At least that’s my understanding of all this craziness if that can be called that, but more importantly of what Julian felt when she was sick and found her hope in Jesus. Jesus, to her, is everything, as she mentioned in her other chapters, and he is everything she got, and she is happy with it because he is forgiving and caring for her as a “creature” as she often refers to herself.

I enjoyed reading Julian of Norwich; it provided me with an opportunity to explore how writers linked their experiences so close to the bible, like in Julian’s case, where every experience in her life has something to do with something that happened in the bible. The voices of the dead prophets come through with her choice of sentences and words.