20 May 2013
Portrait of Bishop Julian
The emblem of
Bishop of Le Mans
Join us for a moment in our celebrations. We kneel before the Sacramental Presence of Jesus Christ, offering our thanksgivings and prayers for the past and the future of the shrine, in the short service of Benediction.
"Jesus feeds us with himself, and, with the most tender courtesy, does it by means of the Blessed Sacrament, the precious food of all true life." Revelations Chapter 60.
The church of S. Julian, Bishop of Le Mans, in the Parish of S. John the Baptist, Timberhill, is the second of the two churches within the parish still open for regular Anglican worship. S. Julian's Church is very much alive and active and well used as it houses the Shrine of the great 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich. The original church building was one of the oldest in the city and was probably standing before the Norman conquest. It is thought that because of its proximity to the river, the patron of the church could have been S. Julian the Hospitaller, who was the patron saint of ferrymen.
Very little is known of her early life, even her real name. What we know about her is gleaned from her book and from other contemporary writings. She was born in 1342 during the time of the Black Death. This was a very unpleasant age to live in England. The black death or plague led to very bad social conditions and the oppression of the poor. There was a shortage of labour, high taxes and bad harvests, prices were soaring and unrest was bound to follow. The climax of this unrest was the Peasants Revolt in 1381. The wider Church was also in a sorry state: the Religious Orders were at loggerheads, the Papacy had left Rome and was in exile at Avignon in France, and not half a mile from S. Julian`s Church, the early followers of the Protestant John Wycliff, The Lollards, were being burnt in the Lollards Pit, just the other side of the river. It is into this dire situation that the girl we know as Julian of Norwich who calls herself a simple, unlettered creature, comes bringing with her a message of divine love and hope.