Julian of Norwich
To look at the life of the saint who was the first woman to write a book in English.
by Ronni Lamont
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To look at the life of the saint who wrote the first book in English by a woman.
Preparation and materials
Despite the name, Julian was a woman. She is celebrated on 8 May.
- You might like to dress up one of your children as Julian, who was poor and lived in the fourteenth century. The child could then speak Julian’s words.
- You also need a hazelnut.
- Child: My name is Julian. I live near the city of Norwich, in the year of our Lord 1373. I live alone, in a tiny room, called a cell, which is attached to the local church. I have a friend who brings me food and drink every day, but I never leave my room.
I have been very ill. For weeks, I lay in bed, halfway between life and death, but today I am feeling better. And while I was ill, I had a dream; a most amazing dream.
- Leader: The dream certainly was a most amazing dream! Can you guess what Julian dreamt about? Take suggestions.
Julian dreamt all about God. She saw God in her dream, and over many days of dreaming, God spoke to Julian so vividly that when she woke up she said:
Child: I need to write this all down!
- But Julian had a very basic problem. What do you think it was?
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 – and Julian came from a poor home and was a woman too – so, of course, she couldn’t write!
- So what do you think she did?
Julian being the person she was, she wasn’t going to let a small thing like not being able to write stop her, so she decided to learn to write. It is thought that the priest at the church taught her, and then she began to write.
It took her years. No computers, not even typewriters (the things that 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 – 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 The Revelations of Divine Love.
- The book was how she 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 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.
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, the country was in a mess, many people were ill, and it was all very bad. When she spoke to God about it, God replied to Julian: ‘All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’
All will be well.
Let us pray:
Thank you that you have promised that all will be well.
When life is hard, help us to remember that promise.
‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (Come and Praise, 43)
‘Jesus’ love is very wonderful’ (Kidsource, 208)