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Julian of Norwich

To look at the life of Julian of Norwich, who wrote the first book to be written in English by a woman.

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To look at the life of Julian of Norwich, who wrote the first book to be written in English by a woman.

Preparation and materials

  • You might like to dress up one of your children as Julian – poor fourteenth-century clothes. The child could then speak Julian’s words.
  • You also need a hazelnut.
  • In the Church’s calendar, Julian is remembered each year on 8 May.

Assembly

  1. Child  My name is Julian. I live near the city of Norwich. I live alone, in a tiny room, called a cell, built against the outside wall of a church. I never leave my room. I have a friend who brings me food and drink every day.

    I have been very ill. For weeks I lay in bed, halfway between life and death, but today I am feeling better.

    In the year of our Lord 1373, in the month of May, I was so ill that those around me thought I was on the point of death. On the eighth of that month, between 4 o’clock and 9 o’clock in the morning, I had a series of dreams, most amazing dreams.
  2. Leader  The dreams were certainly most amazing dreams!

    Can you guess what Julian dreamed about? (Take a few answers.)

    Julian dreamed all about the love of God. God spoke to her so vividly that when she woke up she said:

    Child  I need to write this all down!
  3. But Julian had a very basic problem. What do you think it was? (Take a few answers.)

    Julian didn’t know how to write. What was she to do? An adult who couldn’t write! But, in those times, that was normal. Only people from rich homes could write, and very few women. Julian came from a poor home, and was a woman, too – so of course she couldn’t write!
  4. What do you think Julian did? (Take a few answers.)

    Julian, being the person she was, wasn’t going to let a small thing like not being able to write stop her. She decided to learn to write. We now think the priest at the church taught her.

    And then she began to write down the dreams and their meaning. It took her years. No computers, not even typewriters, which came before computers. No pens either – just a quill feather and ink. What a messy job it was!

    But, 20 years later – yes, 20 years later – she finished. She had written the very first book in the English language to be written by a woman. It’s still available today, and it’s called Revelations of Divine Love.
  5. The book was how Julian wanted it to be. The book was simply about how much God loves us.

Time for reflection

There are two quite well-known thoughts within the book.

The first is this. (Hold up the hazelnut.) Julian saw God’s hand, closed up like this: (close fingers over the nut to make an upturned fist). When God opened his hand (open your hand so the nut is in your palm), she saw a tiny nut. When Julian asked what the nut was, God replied, ‘It is everything that is made.’

Everything in the universe fitted into God’s hand, and was about the size of this nut.

(Pause)

Everything ever made, the size of a nut in God’s hand.

The second thought is this. Julian was worried about the things going on in her world – there was a war, there was plague, England was in a mess. Everything was very bad. When she spoke to God about it, God replied to Julian, ‘All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’ (Pause)

All shall be well.

Prayer
Heavenly Father,
thank you that you have promised that all will be well.
When life is hard, help us to remember that promise.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (Come and Praise, 43)
‘Jesus’ love is very wonderful’ (Kidsource, 208)

Publication date: May 2012   (Vol.14 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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