Thoughts for the Day

Wednesday, 8th May 2024: Julian of Norwich, Spiritual writer, c1417

Prayer Julian Spiritual 1 Kings 19 God our Father

Reading : Verses from 1 Kings, Chapter 19

Julian of Norwich

* Statue of Julian of Norwich

At that place Elijah came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’

He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


'On this day in the year 1373, when she was thirty years old and suffering from what was considered to be a terminal illness, a woman of Norwich, whose own name is unrecorded, experienced a series of sixteen visions, which revealed aspects of the love of God. Following her recovery, she spent the next twenty years of her life pondering their meaning and recorded her conclusions in what became the first book written by a woman in English, 'The Revelation of Divine Love'. At an unknown point in her life, she became an anchoress attached to the Church of St Julian in Norwich, and it was by this name thats she came to be known to later generations. She died around the year 1417.'

(From 'Exciting Holiness: Collects and Readings for Festivals')

Britannica says of Julian: 'Her work is generally considered one of the most remarkable documents of medieval religious experience. 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. Unparalleled in English religious literature, her work spans the most profound mysteries of the Christian faith—among them the existence of evil. The clarity and depth of her perception, the precision and accuracy of her theological presentation, and the sincerity and beauty of her expression reveal a mind and personality of exceptional strength and charm.'

In our reading today we see Elijah who is hiding from his enemies, at absolute rock bottom, but God also comes close to him to energise and reassure him for his future work.

Julian wrote this about a time of dryness in our prayer: 'Pray, even if you feel nothing, or see nothing. For when you are dry, empty, sick or weak, at such a time is your prayer most pleasing to God, even though you may find little joy in it. This is true of all believing prayer.'


Collect for Julian of Norwich

Most holy God,
the ground of our beseeching,
who through Your servant Julian
revealed the wonders of Your love:
grant that as we are created in Your nature
and restored by Your grace,
our wills will be made one with Yours,
that we may come to see You face to face
and gaze on You for ever.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look up this site for more wonderful quotes from Julian:

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