In the late 14th century, after experiencing a series of 16 mystical visions of Christ, Julian-- an anchoress living in a small room attached to a church in Norwich, England--sat down to write. Over several years and many pages, she reflected on these encounters, which deepened her Catholic faith. It is believed that the woman who came to be known as Julian of Norwich also served as a spiritual resource to her neighbors. Today, her writings, which emphasize the power of God’s love, continue to provide guidance and comfort to spiritual seekers. Two new books take a closer look her work.
Julian’s visions, sometimes called “showings” are newly translated in Mirabai Starr’s The Showings of Julian of Norwich (Hampton Roads Publishing, Oct.). Starr is an adjunct professor of philosophy and world religions at the University of New Mexico. Her book is “a contemporary rendering of one of the most loved and influential mystical texts of western civilization,” says Greg Brandenburgh, associate publisher at Hampton Roads. Although Julian was Catholic, Brandenburgh believes the message of love in her writings will speak to a wider audience. The Showings of Julian of Norwich “will appeal not only to traditional Christians, but also to anyone interested in mysticism and spirituality,” he says. The book will be an Alternate selection of the One Spirit Book Club in October.
Veronica Mary Rolf pieces together the world of the woman behind the work in Julian’s Gospel: The Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich (Orbis Books, Oct.). Rolf, an independent scholar of medieval studies and comparative literature—as well as an actor, speaker, retreat leader, and blogger—creates a clearer picture of Julian by “drawing on painstaking historical research and her ingenious pursuit of clues in Julian's writing,” says Robert Ellsberg, publisher of Orbis Books. Rolf examines the historical events of Julian’s time, as well as the milestones of her life.
Through a new translation of Julian’s revelations, and through the addition of a chapter-by-chapter spiritual companion to the texts, Rolf strives to break open one of the most popular works of Christian mysticism, Ellsberg says. “Rolf convinces us that Julian's work, written in seclusion, unknown for centuries, was in a very special sense entrusted to a future generation capable of hearing and understanding her message,” adds Ellsberg. “Through Julian's visions, and Rolf's labor of love, we receive a rare gift—a fresh, imaginative, and liberating view of the Gospel that speaks to the spiritual challenges of our own time."