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  • Writer's pictureAlex Naszados

Julian of Norwich: The First Showing

Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) was a hermitess in Norwich, England who received sixteen "shewings" (or visions) in 1373. She wrote an account of this, and then spent about twenty years meditating on their deeper meaning before producing a second, much longer manuscript.


"The First Showing" will be the first in a series of pieces reflecting on each of these visions. I can't say these pieces will "depict" her showings, since many visions are multifaceted and include truths that are almost impossible to represent visually. As Julian explains, "all this was shewed by three [ways]: that is to say, by bodily sight, and by word formed in mine understanding, and by spiritual sight." Even when a vision includes a visual element, it is not always a single tableau. This first showing, "is of His precious crowning with thorns; and therewith was comprehended and specified the Trinity, with the Incarnation, and unity betwixt God and man’s soul; with many fair shewings of endless wisdom and teachings of love: in which all the Shewings that follow be grounded and oned." My video includes an excerpt from an audio book read by David Barnes.* The translation from the Middle English is by Grace Warrack (1855-1932). This is also the translation I will be using for my quotations. *The entire audiobook is available for free at LibriVox (librivox.org).



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