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Pope Francis marks 650th anniversary of Julian of Norwich’s visions

May 17, 2023

Pope Francis sent a message to participants at events in the Catholic and Anglican cathedrals in Norwich, England, to mark the 650th anniversary of the revelations to Julian of Norwich.

“On May 13, 1373, Julian was healed of a serious illness after experiencing a series of visions of Christ’s suffering and of the Blessed Virgin, about which she wrote two accounts; the second, longer version was composed 20 or 30 years after the first,” Encyclopaedia Britannica notes in its article on the English mystic. Julian’s accounts of her visions are known as the Revelations of Divine Love, or the Showings (Shewings).

“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,” Pope Francis wrote in his message, dated May 8 and reported by Vatican News on May 15. “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.”

After praising Julian’s generosity in welcoming others, Pope Francis said:

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.

Pope Francis previously cited Julian in a 2016 general audience, and Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to her in a 2010 general audience.

“Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (n. 67). “They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium [sense of the faithful] knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.”


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