The Spiritual Imaginary Issue 1: The Passion of Christ as Suffering and Longing by Regine Slavin

1. Introduction

Then Jesus our good Lord said: If you are satisfied, I am satisfied. It is a joy, a bliss, an endless delight to me that ever I suffered my Passion for you; and if I could suffer more, I should suffer more.1

Had I seen Dean Inge’s reference to Julian’s work as a ‘charming book [… by a] cloistered maiden’2 before reading them, I would have been even more surprised by her Showings. Even so, I had a strong response both intellectually and emotionally; I was surprised by how difficult I found understanding her writing and at the same time I felt overwhelmed by the love and longing for Julian by which Christ almost seems to get carried away.3 Similarly, but admittedly on a different scale, Julian had to search for the ‘meaning’ in the all-enfolding ‘love’ which Christ revealed to her. Apart from the fact that she lived as an anchoress in Norwich and on May 13, 1373, when thirty and a half years old, received her revelation, all we know of her is that she gave an account of it immediately afterwards, in what is known as the Short Text, and then over the next at least twenty years wrestled a sophisticated-theological interpretation from her mystical experience,4 resulting in the Long Text.5

In order to make sense of my reaction I want to look deeper into this text. If Julian is a mystic as I have just implied, and loosely part of the tradition of passion mysticism influenced by St. Francis, how far do some concepts of the Franciscan Bonaventure, as summarised by Mark A. McIntosh, apply to Julian?6 Concepts such as ‘the ultimate state of encounter with God involves the soul in a reciprocal ecstasy, going out of self in response to the self-emptying love of God’ and ‘this mutual ecstasy is not a […] metaphysical ascent but rather a descent into the passion of Jesus’.7 What was the vision that empowered her to claim her words to be words of God? Although in a way her whole work is centred on the Passion, I want to mirror Julian and ‘zoom in’ on what exactly she saw on the cross and see what effect it had on her. Furthermore, to which part of the Christ who ‘made’ the ‘revelation of love’ (p.175)is her greater attachment, his humanity or divinity? Having seen other medieval mystical writings, there were further surprises for me: little mention of sin in her sights of Christ’s suffering; and a relative lack of erotic imagery. My initial quote – which moved me so much on first reading Julian – contains both meanings of the word ‘passion’, Christ’s suffering on the cross, and his longing and desire for Julian; I am going to focus on both to try and shed some light on these questions.

And finally, I want to mention that two articles by Watson and Gillespie/Ross have influenced my approach to Julian: not only do they reveal new layers of meaning, they also gave my own reading a different slant and opened my eyes to new connections and echoes in her rich and complex text.8

2. The Suffering Christ

I saw the red blood running down from under the crown, hot and flowing freely and copiously, […] contempt, foul spitting, buffeting, […t]he fair skin was deeply broken into the tender flesh through the vicious blows delivered all over the lovely body. [… A]nd his nose shrivelled and dried up […] though this pain was bitter and piercing, still it lasted a very long time (pp. 181, 193, 199, 206).

2.1 Julian’s wish for a Sight of Christ’s Passion

In her youth, so Julian tells us, she asked for ‘three graces’ (p.177): ‘recollection of the Passion’; ‘bodily sickness’; and ‘three wounds’ (‘true contrition’, ‘loving compassion’, and longing with my will for God’ (p. 179)). This third wish was not unusual in her time, nor was the first. To want to join the bystanders below the cross, and to have ‘more knowledge of our saviour’s bodily pains’ (p. 178) was part of a long tradition of imaginative entering into Christ’s suffering that started with St. Paul, was developed in Anselm, Bernard and Aelred, and in the 13th century, under Franciscan influence, became more affective.9

What was unusual about the first, however, was Julian’s desire for an actual ‘bodily sight’, to see with her ‘own eyes the Passion which our Lord suffered’ (p. 177). Even stranger was her second wish, to ask for a ‘bodily sickness […] so severe that it might seem mortal’ (p. 178).10 What was the purpose of these desires? I do not think it was her own salvation, as was common in her day, because she already ‘believed that [she] should be saved by the mercy of God’ (p. 178). Rather, as she states clearly, from her own suffering (her second request: ‘bodily sickness’) she expected ‘to be purged by God’s mercy and afterwards live more to his glory’ (p. 178). The aim of her first request (‘recollection of the Passion’), however, seems to fluctuate between on the one hand, more ‘feeling for the Passion of Christ’ (p. 177) and ‘knowledge of our saviour’s bodily pains’ (p. 178), and on the other hand, a sense of having been there with Mary Magdalene and with the others ‘who were Christ’s lovers’ (p.177), to have been ‘one of them’ (p. 178). ‘They’ include ‘our Lady’ – the first wish signals the beginnings of a strong identification with her – whose attribute, compassion, she desires (p. 178). Compassion is the second of the ‘three wounds’ (p. 179) and she will wish for it,11 and only indirectly for the ‘first grace’ (‘recollection of the Passion’).12 when she actually believes to be ‘truly at the point of death’ (p. 180), just before receiving her first revelation. She stresses that compassion would lead to longing for God (the third ‘wound’) and that she never wanted ‘any kind of revelation from God but compassion […] for our Lord Jesus’. Only then does she wish again to suffer with Christ (p. 181).13

To sum up, her and Christ’s suffering have always been connected in Julian’s mind. This was not suffering for its own sake, however, but a means to a life closer to God and others. I would also argue that before her revelation Julian desired to see Christ’s suffering at least as much to grow in compassion and identify with Mary and the disciples as to suffer with him. With this in mind, I now turn to Julian’s actual sights of this suffering and later, to how she is affected by them.

2.2 Julian’s Bodily Sight of Christ’s Suffering

Julian’s request for two of the ‘graces’ was granted when she was thirty and a half years old: God sent her the second, ‘a bodily sickness’, and after several days ‘on the point of death’,14 she looked, against her wish,15 at a crucifix. All grew dark and terrifying, except for a light trained on the cross, when ‘suddenly’ all her pain left her,16 she ‘suddenly’ and indirectly17 asked for the first grace, and ‘suddenly’ had the first revelation.

This use of ‘suddenly’ expresses the two aspects18 that stand out for me in her vision of Christ’s suffering: surprise and movement or fluidity.19

My surprise was twofold: firstly, after my initial encounter with the text I remembered the crown of thorns and a lot of blood, and thus expected to find gore and pain. However, on closer reading, I found that in the first three showings of the Passion Julian seems to escape the horror of it in four ways: Firstly, although she says that the bleeding persisted throughout, the blood either disappears (‘as [it] reached the brows [it] vanished’ (p. 187), ‘as it flowed down to where it should have fallen, it disappeared’ (p. 199); resembles different-coloured pellets, rain drops and herring’s scales (pp. 187/8); is described as a living stream, beautiful and vivacious (pp. 181, 188); or she uses phrases to distance herself from it (‘it was thus’, ‘it seemed to be blood’, ‘if [the bleeding] had in fact and in substance been happening’ (pp. 199/200). Secondly, although looking into Christ’s face in revelation II, her vision of it becomes fluid:

[H]is colour often changed. At one time I saw how half his face, beginning at the ear, became covered with dried blood, until it was caked to the middle of the face, and then the other side was caked in the same fashion, and meanwhile the blood vanished on the other side, just as it had come (p. 193).20

Thirdly, in an example of her ‘orgasmic’ use of language, to use a term I found in Gillespie and Ross,21 she describes the blood that ‘washes us of our sins’ descending into hell and ascending into heaven in such a way that it seems to drown us but at the same time loses its materiality:

And it […] blessedly flows over us by the power of his precious love. The precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, as truly as it is most precious, so truly it is most plentiful. Behold and see the power of this precious plenty of his precious blood. […] The precious plenty of his precious blood overflows all the earth… (p. 200).

And lastly, the most striking way in which she is trying to elude the Passion is by turning from the human, suffering Christ, to ‘the Trinity fill[ing her] heart full of the greatest joy (p.181); or to his divinity (protecting her as she lay dying (p. 182), giving her ‘most strength’ (p. 188)); or to a spiritual sight of his love in which he ‘wraps and enfolds us […], embraces and shelters us’ (p. 183); or to God who ‘created bountiful waters […] for our bodily comfort, out of the tender love he has for us’ (p. 200). In all this I was struck by her need for comfort and beauty, understandable as she lay dying, but not really what she had asked for; and by the apparent paradox of plenty and overflowing of goodness and love in her vision of what was the high point of Christ’s kenosis. These four showings of the Passion are surrounded by revelations III, V, VI, and VII, which contain insights about sin and the devil; a blissful vision of Christ’s divinity; and advice about spiritual consolation and desolation, containing the, in view of what follows, poignant observation that pain is ‘reduced to nothing’ and should be passed over (p. 205).

After this weaving in and out of the Passion, theological implications, apophatic imagery, and joy and woe, revelation VIII comes as my second and even bigger surprise and on it hinges, in my reading, much of Julian’s response to her showings. She starts similarly to before with his ‘sweet face as it were’ ‘vividly’ changing colours, but then ‘a painful change’, a ‘deep dying’ occurs and everything is reversed: nothing happens ‘suddenly’ anymore, but ‘the hours passed’, the pain ‘lasted a very long time’, ‘he went on suffering’ (p. 206) although ‘it seemed as if he had been dead for a week’ (p. 207); the movement is not of colours but of his body swinging in the wind ‘as [when] people hang up a cloth to dry’22 (p. 208); no longer does she shy away, but she describes every detail: ‘the lips’, ‘the nose shrivelled’ (p. 206), the ‘fine wrinkles’ on the ‘skin and the flesh of the face’ (p. 208), the piercing and scraping of the head and the binding of the crown, all clotted with dry blood, with the sweet hair attaching the dry flesh to the thorns, and the thorns attaching to the flesh (p. 207); and finally, the living stream of blood turns into a ‘dry, bitter wind’23 (p. 206). It is hard to convey the impact on us and on her, of this drying of Christ’s body without quoting the whole long passage. After using dry/dried/drying ten and twelve times respectively in chapters 16 and 17, with a similar ‘orgasmic’ effect as mentioned above, writing that ‘it seemed to [her] as if24 the greatest […] pain of his Passion was when his flesh dried up’ (p. 207) and analysing ‘four ways in which the body dried’ (p. 208) she gives up: it is more than my heart can ponder; and […] I saw that all I can say is inadequate, for it cannot be described (p. 209).

Suddenly it became clear to me that what I had perceived as paradox had in fact been the beginning of Christ’s self-emptying, the flowing out of blood and love resulting in his ‘drying’ and death. In the following paragraph the repeated use of the word ‘pain’25 communicates something of a similarly agitated state in which, finally, she is granted her wish for her first ‘grace’, recollection of the Passion, ‘as [she] had asked before’:

I felt no pain except for Christ’s pains; [and] the greatest [pain is], to see him who is all my life, all my bliss and all my joy, suffer (p. 209).

Because of the transformation in Julian that follows, I think this is the crux of her experience. She re-states it as follows: ‘So was our Lord Jesus afflicted for us; and we all stand in this way of suffering with him’ (p. 211). The more powerful Sloan version has: ‘Thus was our lord Jesus nawted for us, and we stond […] nowtid with hym,’ which conveys a sense of kenosis and her utter identification with Christ’s suffering.26 And so everything changes again. No more long-drawn-out time but all happens in quick succession:27 regret for ever having asked for such pain (p. 209); contrition28 and then justification29 for that regret (p. 212); identification with Mary in her love for Christ (p. 209); a feeling of unity with Christ, his disciples and all creation (p. 210); a suggestion (again)30 to look away from the cross; but then choosing, ‘with all the power of [her] soul’ (p. 211) ‘to remain[…] in that pain’ and Jesus to be her ‘heaven’ (p. 212).31

To recapitulate, after initially avoiding the worst of Christ’s pains, in revelation VIII, near his and as she presumed, her death, Julian is confronted with their every detail. She is granted her wish and able to share and descend into his suffering, and become part of that mutual self-giving that will transform her, as I will show in the next section.

Before leaving Golgotha,32 however, I want to watch with Julian ‘for the moment when Christ would expire’ and share her surprise: ‘I did not see him so’ (p. 214). Instead both Christ’s and Julian’s appearances ‘suddenly’ change to joy. In a passage rich with biblical echoes33 he asks her: ‘Where is there now an instant of your pain?’ and she understands that ‘we are now on his cross with him [… and s]uddenly34 […] we shall be with him in heaven’ (p. 215). Why did Julian not see the dead Christ in her vision, as it is such a common sight in medieval art? Jantzen (p. 76) holds that it is a parallel to her own expected death which did not happen. I would like to suggest that it is a parallel to her seeing no sin in revelation XIII ‘because it has no kind of substance’ (p. 225), or that yet again Julian uses her text not to spell out, but to represent a truth – there is no death – Christ has overcome it, it has ‘no substance’ either. Yet another possibility occurred to me: Julian cannot see his death because she ‘dies’ with him just as she will be in heaven with him.35

2.3 Julian’s Transformation through Christ’s Passion

In my reading of her revelation, Julian’s identifying with the human Christ on the cross instead of looking at his divine ‘fair blissful countenance’ (p. 203) enables her for the first time to perceive the union of his humanity and divinity.36 Other instances follow this earliest, and in view of the question asked in my introduction, important change: Julian finds comfort in looking at the cross, rather than away from it: ‘I knew well that whilst I contemplated the cross I was secure and safe’ (p. 211).

Suffering had been linked to ‘gaps’: She had her sight of Christ on the cross when hovering over the abyss between life and death and in the gap between desiring and lack of desire, as she had forgotten her wish for a bodily sickness;37 the crown of thorns is her main symbol of his pain;38 others are the ‘wide wounds’ (p. 207) and his flesh and skin ‘torn in pieces’ as if about to fall;39 and twice she was in turmoil when torn between looking up to heaven or at the crucifix. Similarly, as Gillespie and Ross maintain, there was an ‘apophatic play of absence and presence’ in revelation II.40 But now, because she has felt no gap between her and Christ’s pains (p. 209), she realises that there is ‘nothing between the cross and heaven’ and she feels united to Christ, all creation and other Christians, including Mary.41 She also reflects on the division between the ‘mortal flesh’ and soul in her person (which allowed her to regret having asked to suffer with Christ), but which ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’ parts ‘will be eternally united in bliss through the power of Christ’ (pp. 212/3).42 Greater calmness is one effect of this unity, an Augustinian echo of finding rest for which she had longed,43 and even experienced, but ‘only for a time’44 before revelation VIII, but will find more often hereafter.45

Julian also finds that not only has her wish for all five parts of the three ‘graces’ been granted (her sight of the Passion and suffering with Christ; her sickness; and the three wounds of contrition (after regretting asking for pain), compassion (p. 226) and longing for God),46 but three of them are even being reciprocated by Christ: he is suffering with her (‘he wants us to know […] that we suffered in no way alone (p. 227); he has compassion for her (he sorrowed for every man’s sorrow […] in his compassion and love (p. 213)47 and he longs for her (‘the love in him which he has for our souls […] with a great desire’ (p. 214)) – proving her saying that through the Holy Spirit we have our reward ‘endlessly surpassing all that we desire’ (p. 294).

I believe Julian also has her first ‘rapture’ at this moment. She not only understands that at death ‘we shall be with him in heaven’ (p. 215), but soon afterwards her ‘understanding was lifted up into heaven, and there [she] saw three heavens’ (p. 216).48 From this ‘astonishing’ sight onwards her sense of love and bliss seems to grow, for the three heavens ‘all are of the blessed humanity of Christ […] all equal in their joy’ (p. 216).49 This is an echo of Bonaventure’s the highest form of mystical knowledge not being an ‘apprehension of bare deity’.50

Two insights follow this rapture. Firstly, having earlier stressed the importance of both Christ’s and her suffering, she now understands the insignificance of her own ‘little pain’ (p. 215), and more movingly, of the suffering of Christ, who repeatedly asserts that ‘he counts as nothing his labour and his sufferings and his cruel and shameful death’ (p. 217), if compared to the endless bliss that will follow.51 Secondly, she ‘saw truly’ at this time that the reason Christ suffers is because ‘he wishes to make us heirs with him of his joy’52 rather than our sins. She will develop the link between sin and suffering in later chapters (especially 64) as she will infer from Christ’s not dwelling on pain and suffering her belief that God does not want us to dwell on our sin (p. 323).53 What moves her, and me, most, though, is not her joy, but his: in the short revelation IX she uses the words joy/bliss/delight forty-six (!) times to express Christ’s ‘endless delight’ that he suffered and died54 for us, ‘his bliss’ (p. 219).

In sum, although like everything in Julian, the transformation I claim to have happened is complex, it is clearly moving towards greater unity, calm, peace and above all, joy and love. The wishes of her youth are granted and in deepest pain she finds God’s self-giving love, Agape. As she comes to see ‘no substance’ in death or sin, she is moving away from the suffering Christ again, but this time not to avoid pain. Rather she is taken into Bonaventure’s ‘awareness of the eternal ekstasis of deity by which the divine draws all creation into loving union in Christ’.55 It is he who says to her: ‘If you are satisfied, I am satisfied. It is a joy, a bliss, an endless delight to me that ever I suffered my Passion for you; and if I could suffer more, I should suffer more’ (p. 216). This quote links Christ’s suffering and his desire for Julian, the theme of my next section.

3. The Longing Christ

This is his thirst and his longing in love for us, to gather us all here into him, to our endless joy (p. 230).

The visionary being the object of divine desire is part of a tradition in female mystics, as Louise Nelstrop notes. The idea of longing, Eros, being an aspect of God’s love for mankind goes back to the Old Testament, especially the Song of Songs, and together with the imagery of courtly love forms the basis of erotic language in the texts of Christian mysticism.56 Although I mentioned the relative absence of erotic language in Julian in my introduction, and a detailed scrutiny of this aspect of her work lies beyond the scope of this essay, I can, however, look at Christ’s desire for her, as it is the other side of his ‘passion.’

I did not mention Christ’s thirst on the cross before; I turn to it now as it mirrors the two aspects of his ‘passion’, what Julian calls ‘a double thirst, one physical the other spiritual’ (p. 207). Both are the result of an emptying: the first – of his blood – in his suffering, in the terrible ‘drying’ described above; the second – of his self – in ‘his longing in love for us’ (p. 230).57 The physical thirst stopped,58 but the thirst of longing will endure ‘until the time that the last soul which will be saved has come up into bliss’ (p. 231).59 It may last even longer, for in spite of Julian’s assertion that the ‘spiritual thirst will have an end’ (p. 230), in her very last paragraph she implies God’s eternal love to be this thirst when she sees ‘very clearly’ that this ‘love was never slaked,60 and never will be’ (p. 342). Thirst is also linked to her descriptions of Christ’s humanity and divinity, as I will show below.

There are more manifestations of Christ’s longing: his impatience to become man;61 his choosing to suffer for us ‘with a great desire’ (p. 214); his longing to ‘possess’ us (p. 231); and what Julian finds so hard to grasp, his wish to suffer more for her if he could and ‘to die for [her] love so often that the number exceeds human reckoning’ (p. 217). A few times Christ becomes the courtly lover as ‘he stands all alone, and […] waits for us continually, moaning and mourning until we come’ (p. 334).62 As Julian develops Christ’s love into her theology of Jesus as Mother, it will turn into an enfolding, comforting, nurturing love and instances of erotic imagery will largely disappear.63

Here, though, I am hoping to make the case that near her vision of his Passion Julian experiences the divine desire for her more passionately than at any other time, which is part of the transformation I claim for her: it was just before the moment of Christ’s death that she first ‘saw’ his desire (p. 214),64 and his concern immediately afterwards seems to be whether she is satisfied (p. 216).65 Not much later, Christ ‘appeared to [her] more glorified than [she] had seen him before’.66 It is he who now speaks in ‘orgasmic’ gasps, in the striking passage: ‘I am he, I am he, […]. I am he whom you love. […] I am he whom you desire. […] I am he who is all’ (p. 223).67 This is followed by what I believe is her second rapture:

The number of the words surpasses my intelligence and my understanding and all my powers, for they were the most exalted, as I see it, for in them is comprehended I cannot tell what; but the joy which I saw when they were revealed surpasses all that the heart can think or the soul may desire (pp. 223/4).

The first rapture, mentioned before, follows Christ’s ‘if you are satisfied, I am satisfied’ (p. 216), and so around the cross, the moment of mutual self-emptying and mutual ekstasis, becomes the moment of her greatest ecstasies.68

I also find that in this exultation she confuses the distinctions between Christ’s divinity and humanity. In the second half of her book she will elaborate on them as part of her reflections on the Trinity and Christ’s relationship to mankind. Here, although she longs for the rest and peace she can only find in Christ’s divinity, she ‘sees’ only the human Christ: When she waited for his death and he ‘changed to an appearance of joy’ she did not really see this sight of his divinity (‘if he revealed to us now his countenance of joy’ (p. 215)); and even in her mystical encounter soon after, she saw ‘three heavens, and all are of the blessed humanity of Christ’ (p. 216). It is in returning to his thirst, however, that she makes a contradictory, but revealing statement: She starts with the customary portrayals of his divinity (bliss, without beginning, without end) and humanity (suffering pains, Passion, dying) but then does something unusual: She associates his head with his divinity (‘glorious and impassible’), but his body with his humanity (‘not yet fully glorified or wholly impassible’), because ‘he still has that same thirst and longing which he had upon the Cross’ but ‘were in him from without beginning’ (p. 230/1)! So just as at the first sight of his Passion (p. 181), in his thirst, too, she perceives both his humanity and divinity. The whole of this long exposition makes me think that deep down Julian does not want to disentangle his two natures, because in her head she prefers him ‘fully glorified’, whereas in her body or heart, ‘not yet wholly impassible’ (p. 230).69 This not separating Christ’s two natures is of course orthodox theology, but also part of her tendency to integrate, as in her emphasis on unity in the trinity and the way her revelation and its interpretation are, in Watson’s words, ‘impossible to disentangle’ (p. 81).

To sum up, Christ’s Passion is part of God’s self-giving love that is the ‘meaning’ of her revelation (p. 342) and longing – desire – is one aspect of this eternal love, Eros. She felt it most clearly around the point of her sight of the Passion and therefore at first associates it with Christ’s humanity, but then perceives it taken up into his glorious state and his divinity, and so becoming part of the person of Christ in his fullness and of the whole triune God.

4. Conclusion

So I was taught that love is our Lord’s meaning […], which love was never slaked and never will be.70

Like Julian calling all her search for ‘meaning’ ‘the beginning of an ABC’ (p. 276), I know I have only scratched the surface of her work, but hope that in my detailed look at her vision of the Passion I have been able to show that once Julian overcame her fear of ‘falling’ and descended into the depths of Christ’s suffering, she, too, felt surprised and overwhelmed: surprised that she saw great pain, but neither sin nor death; overwhelmed by a compassionate, longing love. The effects of this and of the fulfilment of her three desires were going to be manifold: her unflinching probing into the mystery of sin; her ever-deepening understanding of the relational quality of the trinity; her interpretation of the self-sacrificing love of God as the Motherhood of Jesus; her conviction that she had to communicate her revelation to all Christians. Why her theology is still valued today and Rowan Williams lists her among ‘the greatest theological prophets of the Church’s history’ is because theology, as he states, is ‘inseparable from engagement […] with the paradoxes of cross and resurrection’.71

What I hope I showed in this essay, however, was her transformation through participating in God’s kenosis towards greater integration. Firstly, she felt solidarity with her fellow human beings and identified with Mary. Secondly, she was reluctant to separate Christ’s two natures, because intellectually she would always be attracted and dazzled by the splendour and sovereign goodness of his divinity, though her deepest emotions were aroused by the Lord who every day would die for her. Thirdly, the love she revealed in her writing is so all-enfolding – encompassing maternal nurture as well as passionate longing – because in Christ’s Passion – epitomised in his thirst – she saw Agape and Eros united, as it was in her three wounds, which, I think, also explains her moderate use of erotic imagery. Finally, she achieves mystical union in more than one way: in being ‘noughted’ with the human Christ on the cross and in that mutual ecstasy Bonaventure describes; and also because she not only brings forth her words, which she believes to be words of God, and so identifies with Mary, who brought forth the Word; but she becomes her revelation, she becomes the word of God, and so, in a way, achieves union with the Word of God, Christ in his divinity.

With all this emphasis on love and bliss, and her optimistic view of man, Julian’s writing never becomes sentimental, because she found peace and joy not in escaping pain and suffering, but plumbing it; because ‘love is his meaning’ not in spite of the Passion of Christ, but because of it.


Primary Sources

Julian of Norwich, Showings, trans. by Colledge, Edmund OSA and James Walsh SJ (New York: Paulist Press, 1978).

Secondary Sources

Baker, Denise N., ‘The Image of God: Contrasting Configurations in Julian of Norwich’s Showings and Walter Hilton’s Scale of Perfection’ in Sandra J. McEntire, ed., Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 35-60.

Beer, Frances, Women and Mystical Experiences in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1992, repr. 1993, 1995.)

Bradford, Clare, ‘Verily God is Oure Moder: Mystical Discourse and the Female Body in The Writings of Julian of Norwich’ in Robert Hannaford and J’annine Jobling, eds, Theology and the Body: Gender, Text and Ideology (Leominster: Gracewing, 1999), pp. 152-163.

Bynum, Caroline Walker, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982).

Gillespie, Vincent and Maggie Ross, ‘The Apophatic Image: Poetics of Effacement in Julian of Norwich’, in M. Glasscoe, ed., The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, V (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 53-77.

Happold, F.C., Mysticism: A Study and an Anthology (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963).

Hollywood Amy, The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991).

Inge, W. R., Mysticism in Religion, 2nd edn (London: Rider and Company, 1969).

Jantzen, Grace, Julian of Norwich: Mystic and Theologian (London: SPCK, 1987).

Mason, Cynthia, ‘The Point of Coincidence: Rhetoric and the Apophatic in Julian of Norwich’s Showings’, in Sandra J. McEntire, ed., Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 153-182.

McGinn, Bernard, ed. and trans., The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism (Modern Library Classics; New York: Random House, 2006).

McIntosh, Mark A., Mystical Theology: The Integrity of Spirituality and Theology (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998).

McEntire, Sandra J. ‘The Likeness of God and the Restoration of Humanity’ in Julian of Norwich’s Showings’, in Sandra J. McEntire, ed., Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 3-34.

Nelstrop, Louise, with Kevin Magill and Bradley B. Onishi, Christian Mysticism: An Introduction to Contemporary Theoretical Approaches (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009).

Newman, Barbara, From Virile Woman to Woman Christ: Studies in Medieval Religion and Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995).

Nuth, Joan A., God’s Lovers in an Age of Anxiety (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 2001).

Ruud, Jay, ‘“I wolde for thy loue dye”: Julian, Romance Discourse, and the Masculine’ in Sandra J. McEntire, ed., Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 183-206.

Tinsley, David F., ‘Julian’s Diabology’ in Sandra J. McEntire, ed., Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 207-238.

Watson, Nicolas, ‘The Trinitarian Hermeneutics in Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love’, in Sandra J. McEntire, ed., Julian of Norwich: A Book of Essays (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 61-90

Williams, Rowan, The Wound of Knowledge: Christian Spirituality from the NewTestament to St John of the Cross, 2nd rev. edn (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1990).


Part I: Julian on Christ and the Body

  • 1. The Passion of Christ as Suffering and Longing by Regine Slavin
  • 2. ‘The Word Made Flesh’ by Lydia Shahan
  • 3. Julian’s Embodied Mysticism by Natalie King

Part II: Insights for Today

  • 4. Love as Delight – Love as Unknowing by Hilde Raastad
  • 5. From Anchorhold to Household by Stephen Batty
  • 6. ‘All Shall be Well’ by Vanessa Lawrence