A now-famous Medieval English mystic, the anchoress Mother Julian of Norwich (1342-1430), lived for many years on the edge of Norwich Cathedral in England. She took self-isolation and shelter-in-place to an extreme.
As an anchoress and recluse, Mother Julian was literally walled–up and never left her anchorhold, as such a hermitage is called.
This arrangement was not a whim or without ecclesial approval. Rather, the bishop of the time recognized the sincerity, holiness and special vocation of Julian to be attached, quite literally, to his cathedral.
While such an arrangement can seem almost abhorrent to modern sensibilities, it was not an uncommon reality in Medieval contemplative Christian practice.
Julian of Norwich was far from idle in her anchorhold. She became a frequent advisor and spiritual director to both nobles and peasants of her day, who came to her for advice, direction and prayers.
Mother Julian of Norwich experienced God’s presence in a singular way and recorded her mystical experiences in the now classic of Christian mystical literature, “The Revelations of Divine Love.”
One of Mother Julian’s most famous phrases, often quoted, and so important in our present troubled times, were these words revealed to her by Christ:
“All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Pictured below is Mother Julian’s gravesite, adjacent to her anchorhold at Norwich Cathedral. The photo was taken by a pilgrim-Benedictine monk a few years ago.
Saint Julian of Norwich, pray for us.