I was introduced to Julian of Norwich by Fiona Givens at the first Midwest Pilgrims I went to.  An anchoress in the 14th century, at 30 she fell sick and experienced a series of visions.  Her account of those visions became “Revelations on Divine Love,” the earliest book written by a woman in the English language.  “Mother Julian” spent the rest of her life in a cell at the church of St. Julian (we actually don’t know her real name – she’s called after the church instead).  She would counsel people through her window, but otherwise remained alone aside from a cat or two to help keep the vermin at bay.

Julian of Norwich has some lovely ideas in her book.  One line in particular that I have found helpful is “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”  It’s simplicity, repetition, and hope is helpful and, frankly, astounding given that it came from a woman who saw the Black Plague kill 3/4 of her town as a young woman.

And so, as I was listing for myself what I wanted to do while in England this summer, when I found that Norwich was only 2 hours away by train, I decided a pilgrimage was just the thing.  Jason was interested in coming along, so we planned for a day trip.

We caught a train at Liverpool Station, where they have a statue commemorating the British citizens who offered refuge to Jewish children in the early days of the war.



We arrived in Norwich right about lunch time and stopped at a Bella Italia for a bite before crossing the river to find the Church of St. Julian. On our way, we came across the Dragon Hall, a trading hall from the 15th century. I love how you can see the undulations in the roof.


St. Julian’s Church is a small building. It was bombed in World War II (as was much of Norwich), but the outer walls survived.


They rebuilt the interior, including Julian’s cell, and I was delighted to see a bowl of hazelnuts right inside the door.



(The quote: “He showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, in the palm of my hand, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind’s eye and I thought, ‘What can this be?’ And answer came, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled that it could last, for I thought it might have crumbled to nothing. It was so small. And the answer came into my mind, ‘It lasts and ever shall because God loves it.’ And all things have being through the love of God.”)

There was also a handful of hazelnuts next to her shrine:


and a stained glass window:


We met an old woman there who asked us if we “knew Julian.” She seemed astounded when we replied that we did. She invited us to come to the Julian Center just around the corner when we finished at the church, so we did.


She was lovely and chatted with us both as we browsed the little book/gift shop. I should have told her that Julian had a strong fanbase among a certain group of LDS women, but since she seemed a bit deaf and I was already repeating everything twice, I just enjoyed her commentary instead.

Pilgrimage complete, we took in the rest of the sights of Norwich. There was the outdoor market and the Guild Hall with iconic flint stone exteriors, apparently a Norwich thing:


(also a placid pigeon)

The St. Andrew basilica:


Which included some good stained glass windows:


And a part of the pews set aside as a play area!  I’ve never seen that in a church like this.



We swung through the city’s castle, which had an interesting exterior but a pretty empty interior as they were getting ready to redo the floors.


There is a museum attached, but after we looked through the Roman/Boudica section we decided that we needed a snack to keep from flagging too much.

After a meal under a tree that kept dropping leaves and seeds and bits all over us and our meal, we went to the Norwich Cathedral.



Mother Julian was there to greet us outside:



And there were sights old and new inside, from this ghoulish wall carving:


To these more modern windows:


Jason spent a bit of time Facetiming with Justin:


While I wandered through the church looking at the memorials and windows as the organist played (I kid you not) “The Girl from Ipanema.”


(The copper font apparently came from a chocolate factory that used to be nearby!)

We left just in time for a downpour and dashed to wait out the storm under the Ethelbert Gate the city built out of penance in 1316 after the Pope excommunicated the entire town:


There was a break in the rain after about 20 minutes, which we used to walk back to the station to catch the train back to London.

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