Julian is the most popular of the English mystics. She lived as a Benedictine nun in Norwich, beside the St. Julian Church, from which she most likely took her name. Little is known about Julian's life. Julian's book Revelations of Divine Love entitled her to become the first great female writer in the English language. Despite her disclaimers of being unskilled as an author, she wrote lively prose in a style all her own. She was well trained in the Bible as well as the teachings of the Church.
Her theology is based on her mystical experiences. She became seriously ill at the age of thirty and in the midst of her suffering prayed for a vision of Christ's passion. Once in a time of prayer Julian heard the words, "I am the foundation of your praying"—words that greatly influenced her spiritual life. She always pointed to the goodness and love of God, a light in a time of darkness for Julian, who lived in an age of social unrest and fear of the Black Plague.
Joy is perhaps the keynote in her writings. She penned the famous saying, "All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." Her writings have been called "the most perfect fruit of later medieval mysticism in England." The following selection shows both her intense desire and her sane reasoning. While her "revelations" may be hard for us today to identify with completely, they contain significant insights from which we all can learn.