Tag Archives: visions

Julian of Norwich: Vision of Jesus


Julian received sixteen showings from Jesus. Revelations of Love, the record of her experiences, upon which she contemplated for many years, grew into a longer book, full of fresh insights about the nature of God that are relevant today.

Sometimes she actually saw bodily visions of Jesus.

Visions are similar to dreams except the person having the vision is aware of normal everyday events surrounding them and also that what they are seeing is real but not actually within the physical realm. It seems possible that because Julian was close to death, she had one foot in this world and one foot in the next.

An important question to ask oneself or a person claiming to have visions of God is what is the fruit? What good comes from this vision? If it is truly of God, then it will be something that is not damaging but helps in some way. Psychotic delusions might seem real but they cause damage to the recipient and can result in harm to others.

Julian’s fruit was not only that she survived what seemed certain death, but she lived long enough to write down her experience and interpret it for others so that many might understand that God is a force of love and goodness, which radiates through even the ugliest and most difficult of circumstances.

Here is an excerpt from Julian, followed by reflections/meditations

Background: Julian of Norwich sees a bodily vision of Jesus with the crown of thorns around his head:

“And all the while this bleeding was still visible, I came to see and understand many things. Yet there was nothing like its vivid, lifelike quality.

For the sheer flow of blood was like drops of water coming from thatch eaves after a heavy shower of rain, when they come so thick and fast that you may not chance to count them.

Again, as they spread all rounded across the forehead, I was reminded of herring scales.

In fact, I could not rid my mind of these three homely images–pellets, so round were the droplets as they first appeared, herring scales for their same roundness as they spread; raindrops from the eaves of a house so countless were they in number.

This showing was vivid and lifelike, hideous and dreadful, sweet[1] and lovely. But of all the things I saw, this was my greatest comfort: that our good Lord, who is so holy and so much to be feared, is at the same instant so homely[2] and courteous.

This warmed me full of love and comforted my very soul.

…But on this earth no one can know this marvelous homeliness, unless our Lord shows it specially, or with some excess of grace it is given inwardly of the Holy Spirit.”

from Revelations of Love. Julian of Norwich, edited and translated by John Skinner. New York: Doubleday Image Books. 1997. p. 15.

        In a sense, all human being are wearing a crown of thorns. Julian calls the crown imposed upon Jesus a garland, recognizing that even the most bitter of times and circumstances can become illumination of God’s radiance.

        She understands that even herring scales, a smelly waste from a common domestic chore, does not diminish the light of God.

These bony protective scales when scraped away reveal a healthy high-protein fish, one that’s been a source of food to people for thousands of years.

Thus, Julian teaches that God’s love moves through even the most common, the most ordinary, to become a source of spiritual nourishment. 


1. Read Julian’s words several times. What does she seem to be saying to you? Are there any words or phrases or images that get your attention? Think about them. What do you associate with them?

2. What is a common experience in your life that might be illuminated by God to make it extraordinary? What teaches you fresh awareness? What moves you to action for the greater good of others?


[1] Sweet means to be savored, to be tasted; used of spiritual salivation that quickens the soul’s appetite; especially belonging to the person of Christ.

[2]  Homely means belonging to the home, domestic; hence familiar. It bears the same insight when used in this context as Christ bidding his disciples call his Father Abba, which they immediately knew as the most familiar address possible.