|Little is known about Julian of Norwich, a close contemporary of Chaucer’s –not even her name (“Julian” was the name of the church at which she was an
anchoress). Unlike Kempe, Julian wrote her text, Revelations of Divine Love,
exclusively about her vision and religious meditations,not about her life.
Following her vision, which occurred during a bout of illness, Julian withdrew
from the world to a cell attached to St. Julian’s Church in Norwich.
|Her version of Christianity is notable for its joyfulness,and also for its androgynized Jesus.
Like other female mystics of the time,Julian interpreted Christianity in a more explicitly
woman-friendlyway than did her male contemporaries. Female mystics often emphasized
the role of Mary as Queen of Heavenand Mother of God, or dwelled on
Mary Magdalene’s importance as a thirteenth disciple, or attributed
stereotypically feminine qualities to God or Jesus.
In addition to blurring gender distinctions within the deity, female mystics
of the Middle Ages often experienced their relationship with God in sexual terms.
Both elements are apparent in Julian’s quotation of God:
I am the goodness of the fatherhood;
I am the wisdom of the motherhood.
I am the light and the grace that is all blessed love.
I am the trinity. I am the unity. I am the goodness of all manner of things.
I am the one who makes you love. I am the one that makes you yearn.
I am the endless fulfilling of all true desires.