Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf

Julian's Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf

I have been reading this nonfiction book since January of 2016, and have finished it on the first of August, 2016. I very much enjoyed reading this book, as I have a great devotion to Julian of Norwich; but it is a large and long book, and I did have other books to read from time to time. I will also note that this is a very Catholic book; while I think that non-Catholics (or non-Christians) would enjoy reading this book, it means more (I think) to one if one is Catholic.

A little history: Julian of Norwich was a 14th century mystic in the North of England who, after having some fifteen Revelations at the age of thirty, wrote Revelations of Divine Love (a Short Text, not long after the Revelations, and a Long Text some twenty or thirty years later) about her revelations and what she learned in the Revelations about the all-encompassing love of God. It is not known precisely when she was born, when she died, or even what her name was (her anchorage in later life was attached to the Church of St. Julian). To relate some personal history, at some point in the early or mid-1970s, when I was reading every Anya Seton book I could find, I read Katherine, a historical romance about the romance between the eponymous Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the third surviving son of King Edward III. One of the minor characters in the book was Julian of Norwich, and I can say with certainty that I had never heard of Julian before that book. However, in the late 1980s to date, I have purchased every book about Julian of Norwich that I could find.

In the first half of this book, the author goes deeply into the world and culture of Norwich in the mid to late 14th century, so as to place Julian in her time and place. My only caveat is that the author, on extraordinarly scant evidence, assumes facts about Julian, and then builds on these unfounded assumptions later in the book. The second half of the book deals with the Revelations themselves, with a detailed explication of Julian’s theology (which is both orthodox and startlingly original).

I very much enjoyed reading this book; I only regret that it took me some six months to read it.

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