She was born in 1342 during a rather unpleasant time to be living in England. It was the time of the Black Death, exorbitantly high taxes, and poor harvests. We know very little about her life until, at the age of 30, following a serious illness which brought her close to death, she experienced a series of what she called 'showings' or revelations of divine love. It was then that she made the decision to withdraw from the world and become an anchoress, a woman who, by choice, leads a solitary life of prayer and self-discipline, living within the confines of a small cell, only one window looking out into the church and another looking out to the street. Usually, the cell was attached to a parish church; thus, she was not totally not cut off from the world.
Dame Julian of Norwich was an English mystic during the fourteenth century and the author or recipient of the vision contained in the book known as the "Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love". She has the distinction of being the earliest woman writer in English . At a time when a woman could be punished for addressing theological topics, she wrote:
'Because I am a woman, ought I therefore to believe that I ought not tell you about the goodness of God, when I saw that it is his will that it be known?'
Furthermore, although her writings refer to both God and Jesus as 'Mother', her writings were not challenged by the authorities, and, for some reason, they have been kept until the beginning of the third millennium. Her visions include one where all of creation appears as a hazelnut in God's hands. She was troubled by the idea of sin and damnation and claimed that sin is necessary in life for it brings one to self-knowledge.
"A kind loving mother, who knows and understands the needs of her child, looks after it tenderly as is her way and nature. And as it grows bigger she changes her ways but not her love."
Little is known of her later years, not even the date of her death. Her shrine was destroyed by a bombing in 1942, but the have been uncovered and rebuilt.