Julian of Norwich (c. November 8, 1342 – c. 1416)
is thought of as one of the greatest English mystics. Little is known of her life aside from her writings. In fact, it is not even known exactly when she died. She was last known to be alive in 1416 when she was 73 years old. Even her name is uncertain, the name "Julian" coming from the Church of St Julian in Norwich, where she was an anchoress (a type of hermit living in a cell attached to the church, engaged in contemplative prayer). At the age of 30, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions of Jesus Christ. (They ended by the time she overcame her illness on May 13, 1373.) She recorded these visions soon after having them, and then again twenty years later. The first version, called The Short Text, is more of a narration of her visions. The Long Text was written twenty years after the visions, and contains more theological commentary on the meaning of the visions. These visions are the source of her major work, called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (circa 1393). This is believed to be the first book written by a woman in the English language.
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