Simon Parke  
Click here for Abbot Peter Click here for Simon's blog Click here for Simon's books Click here for Simon's consultancy Click here for Simon's retreats
 
      Cover of The Enneagram   Cover of A Vicar Crucified   Cover of Shelf Life
 

'The Secret Testament of Julian' reviewed

Posted by Simon Parke, 30 November 2018, 5.38am

The Secret Testament of Julian was recently reviewed in the Church Times by Peggy Woodford:

‘The devil laughs when a woman writes: it is well-known.’

Julian of Norwich’s A Revelation of Divine Love was the first book in the English language written by a woman, despite that prevalent opinion.

The manuscript was taken to France in 1395, and, although the original MS no longer exists, it was copied and widely circulated among 14th-century believers. It then dropped out of sight until it established a new readership in accessible print editions.

What Simon Parke has done is to create a companion volume: Julian’s autobiography.

The Secret Testament of Julian is written in the small cell where she was walled in at her own request after the deaths, during the plague, of her beloved husband and child.

She herself miraculously survived her infection; in gratitude, she insisted on becoming an anchorite, and, on 8 May 1373, was walled in beside the church in Norwich now dedicated as St Julian.

Norwich was then the second largest city in England, and her entombment went down badly with the religious establishment, fixed in its condemnation of women.

Parke’s book is a magnificent achievement: you sense, smell, and hear the religious turmoil in the England of Chaucer, of Wyclif, of The Cloud of Unknowing.

The actual daily survival of Julian in her cell feels real, and the courageous support of her friends and neighbours is moving.

An example is the boy Thomas who arrives in distress to explain the shouting nearby and the stench of burning: “They burn books, mistress. . . Wyclif Bibles, Bibles in English. . . I speak not of your writing, not to anyone.”

Julian’s famous call of hope for humanity during a time of turmoil: ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’ — borrowed by that other seer, T. S. Eliot — is a peculiarly fitting one for today’s divided Britain.

Peggy Woodford is a novelist, author of ‘Abraham’s Legacy’ and ‘Please don’t go’.

 
More blog posts  

 
   
 
PREVIOUSLY ON SIMON'S BLOG

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

Click here to follow Simon's blog on RSS

RSS 2.0

BREAKING TWEETS