At the Foot of the Cross with Julian of Norwich

At the Foot of the Cross with Julian of Norwich

Author : Emma Pennington
£9.99

A prayerful resource that enables you to linger on the wonder of the cross

'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' This quotation may be all that many people know of Julian of Norwich, an anchoress from the fourteenth century. This book seeks to bring to a popular readership a devotional engagement with Julian’s work.


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Title At the Foot of the Cross with Julian of Norwich
Author Emma Pennington
Description

'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' This quotation may be all that many people know of Julian of Norwich, an anchoress from the fourteenth century. This book seeks to bring to a popular readership a devotional engagement with Julian’s work.

The introduction gives a general background to Julian, the nature of visions in the 14th century and the type of text Julian gives us, namely a meditative text which intends to lead the reader to ‘beholding’.

Each chapter centres on one aspect or image from Julian’s Revelation, which seeks to make the events of the Passion present to the reader’s imagination. The commentary incorporates reflection, the biblical narrative and Julian’s subsequent teachings to create a meditation that enables the reader to linger on the wonder of the cross, ending with a prayer that leads to silence and a thought or verse to carry into daily life.

Details
  • Product code: 9780857465191
  • Published: 24 July 2020
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • Dimensions: 130mm wide and 198mm high

'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' This quotation may be all that many people know of Julian of Norwich, an anchoress from the fourteenth century. This book seeks to bring to a popular readership a devotional engagement with Julian’s work.

The introduction gives a general background to Julian, the nature of visions in the 14th century and the type of text Julian gives us, namely a meditative text which intends to lead the reader to ‘beholding’.

Each chapter centres on one aspect or image from Julian’s Revelation, which seeks to make the events of the Passion present to the reader’s imagination. The commentary incorporates reflection, the biblical narrative and Julian’s subsequent teachings to create a meditation that enables the reader to linger on the wonder of the cross, ending with a prayer that leads to silence and a thought or verse to carry into daily life.

Emma Pennington is the canon missioner for Canterbury Cathedral. Formerly vicar of Garsington, Cuddesdon and Horspath in the Oxford Diocese and chaplain of Worcester College, Oxford, she has also been a prayer and spirituality adviser for the diocese and an area dean. She speaks widely about the spirituality of Julian of Norwich.

To read Emma's blog about filming a series to accompany her book click here.



‘This is a wonderfully refreshing introduction to Julian of Norwich,
which conveys her spiritual toughness and the resilience and
freedom she found through reflecting on the cross of Christ.
For those who associate Julian only with her vision of the hazelnut,
this will be a revelation.’
Angela Tilby, canon emeritus, Christ Church, Oxford


‘I absolutely love this book. As the foreword explains, it aims to
draw the reader into a profoundly meditative encounter with
Julian’s visions and understanding of God. It manages this with
a beautiful simplicity that will draw in any reader. Informed by
the author’s deep scholarship, this a sure and reliable guide.’
Santha Bhattacharji, fellow emeritus, St Benet’s Hall, University
of Oxford, and president, Churches Fellowship for Psychical and
Spiritual Studies


‘Emma Pennington has opened the writings of Julian of Norwich to
us in a fresh and wonderful way. She has also given us, in this book,
a spiritual treasure which causes us to journey and explore and, in
that quest, to venture deeper and deeper into the love of God, with
Julian as our companion.’
Robert Willis, dean of Canterbury Cathedral


‘Emma Pennington has that rare gift of bringing theological and
literary insights together. She transports us to a different world –
Julian’s world of the 14th century – and yet makes it completely
and profoundly accessible to the modern reader. This is a very
moving book, one to be read slowly and reflected on deeply. With
all its discomforts, as well as comfort, may I encourage you to
accept her and Julian’s invitations to come and stand at the foot
of Christ’s cross.’
Colin Fletcher OBE, Bishop of Dorchester

Transforming Ministry Spring 2021. Review by Nancy May

Beginning with a context-setting section, looking at Julian’s world and the influences upon her, this book goes on to examine the nature of her writings. In explaining what Julian’s visions are and what they are not, Emma Pennington contrasts them with the visions of her contemporary Margery Kempe. The way Julian processed her intense experience, and revisited it after reflecting prayerfully for many years, was key to her own spiritual development; and it continues to inspire and influence many today. Emma Pennington’s experience as a spiritual accompanier is evident in the way the book is constructed. In the main body of the book, eight chapters explore themes from five of the Revelations in a way that encourages the reader to visualize them from Julian’s point of view. Each chapter then ends with a short section encouraging readers to go deeper, to reflect and explore their own responses, before offering words of encouragement ‘for the journey’. The book has a short conclusion in which the author draws a parallel between Julian’s sickness and her own experience of intense physical pain which itself revealed something profound about God’s love. Reviewed by Nancy May 

 

Julian Meetings Magazine December 2020. Review by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard ODC

This very attractively produced book is small and compact, but full of wisdom, as we are led ever more deeply into those chapters of her Revelations where Julian speaks of the Cross. There is much scholarship lightly worn as the author explores Julian’s words and their devotional context in 14th century England. She sees one of Julian’s functions as enabling us to pray the Passion through Julian’s eyes as she, and we, contemplate the suffering Saviour. We discover, in our contemplation, the amazing love of God that the Cross reveals. As this book just focuses on Julian and the Cross it would be good (but not absolutely necessary) to have read the whole text so as to put the relevant chapters in a wider context. But I, for one, will never see Jesus’ face on the veil of Veronica, or the crown of thorns (the garland of both pain and victory), in the same way, as Julian leads us into this mystery of suffering and joy so closely combined. Each chapter ends with suggestions for ‘going deeper’, and questions to ponder or discuss - I would add to ‘journal with’ – plus a practical application such as ‘How can you bring love and life to someone who is suffering this week?’ A bonus is the section of full colour plates that show us the kind of pictures and devotional objects that would have influenced Julian as she pondered Christ’s Cross. An excellent book for Julian lovers to use again and again.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard ODC

 

Richard Frost, BRF author and blogger. 03.11.20 

Mention the name Julian of Norwich and many of us would be able to recall her words, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’ We may also know that this 14th Century anchoress experienced a number of revelations or showings of Christ, often described as the ‘Revelations of Divine Love’.

As the author of this book writes, ‘This book is not about Julian’s life, however intriguing that may be, nor does it seek to expound her thinking… instead it is a work that invites you to enter into the substance and language of Julian’s words, to hear her voice… and to stand with her at the foot of the cross so we may know and love God the better’. Emma Pennington succeeds on all accounts.

The beauty of this book is the valuable way in which she explains the context of medieval beliefs and practices at the time in which Julian lives. This broader picture provides additional insight into how we can interpret, learn and benefit from the revelations that Julian experienced.

Each chapter concludes with a guided reading exercise and questions to consider for our personal devotion. There are also helpful photos of items and places relating to the life of Julian.

Emma Pennington is Canon Missioner at Canterbury Cathedral and a co-founder of the successful Festival of Prayer run in association with BRF. Holding a doctorate about her subject, the author’s academic language presents, very occasionally, a similar struggle as that provoked by Julian’s own 14th Century English – but it’s worth persevering and re-reading as needed.

That most famous statement by Julian of Norwich is itself only briefly alluded to. But the author’s explanation and insights in these remarkable revelations, experienced by a seemingly ordinary person 650 years ago, make it very clear that in our life with Christ all shall indeed be well. 

Richard Frost is the author of Life with St Benedict and writes a blog at workrestpray.com

 

Church Times 09.10.20. Review by Anne Spalding

People who have read only excerpts from Julian’s writings which focus on God’s love can be taken aback by the Revelations as a whole because of Julian’s intense attention to Christ on the cross. Pennington looks at exactly this, giving the context of medieval writing in general and the expectations of anchoresses and mystics around Julian’s time, and providing colour plates to illustrate some aspects still visible in churches today. Chapters include ‘The Crown of Thorns’, ‘Great Droplets of Blood’, and ‘The Face of Jesus’, and each has a discussion on the text in the light of scripture and of medieval life.

Julian’s intention, and Pennington’s, is to give a devotional invitation; so, after the overview in part one, each chapter ends with a meditation, ‘Going Deeper’, then questions to ponder or discuss, and finally words for the journey from scripture.

This is not a book to skim-read. The medieval mind-set is a long way from a 21st-century outlook; so there is plenty of material to engage with and think through. Pennington is able to paint a rich picture of this difference. Also, Julian’s own focus on detail — for example, the texture of the blood, or the colour of the dying face of Christ — mean that readers of At the Foot of the Cross must think and feel their response to these things, too.

But it is worth the effort of reading thoughtfully. Julian’s revelations came as part of her experience of illness and expectation of dying. And, through her revelations and reflection on Christ’s Passion, Julian found that Christ’s death was relevant for her circumstances. In our world, still filled with suffering and pain, Pennington’s book can help us to grasp, through Julian’s insights, something of how Jesus’s death on the cross can speak to our situation, too.

 Review by Dr Spalding a member of the Third Order SSF