Of anchorites and beadsmen

Faith at work

Sometime in the 14th century an English woman we know as Julian came to the Church of St. Julian and St. Edward in Conisford at Norwich, where, in a manner of speaking, she was voluntarily “buried alive.” As a priest performed the ceremonies of the burial office, Julian took up residence as an anchoress in a small apartment attached to the church. She was now dead to the world, but not completely so. She had access to the church as well as a “world-side window” that allowed her to receive and counsel visitors.

Within this enclosure Julian was expected to do the work of prayer, which her community apparently found valuable enough to warrant supporting her for the rest of her life. It was also within this enclosure that Julian of Norwich, as she came to be called, wrote the incomparable account of her visions or “shewings” titled Revelations of Divine Love.

 

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