JULIAN OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS 1997-2017 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY  || JULIAN OF NORWICH  || SHOWING OF LOVE || HER TEXTS || HER SELF || ABOUT HER TEXTS || BEFORE JULIAN || HER CONTEMPORARIES || AFTER JULIAN || JULIAN IN OUR TIME ||  ST BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN  ||  BIBLE AND WOMEN || EQUALLY IN GOD'S IMAGE  || MIRROR OF SAINTS || BENEDICTINISM|| THE CLOISTER || ITS SCRIPTORIUM  || AMHERST MANUSCRIPT || PRAYER|| CATALOGUE AND PORTFOLIO (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS ) || BOOK REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY ||
 

THE CRUCIFIX

ST JEROME, ST FRANCIS, FRA ANGELICO, JULIAN
 
 

Maria's Cross, Sweden

t Jerome would contemplate a Crucifix, himself naked following the naked Christ, imitating Christ. He was to be joined in such contemplation in Bethlehem and Calvary by St Paula and her daughter, St Eustochium . These two members of the noblest Roman families humbled themselves to the scandal of the cross, the punishment in their day for slaves, the lowest criminals. In so doing they imitated Constantine's mother, the Empress Helena , herself born a slave in Britain, who gave birth to her son in York, who visited both Bethlehem and Golgotha. Anglo-Saxon Hilda and Caedmon in that far away England, even Scotland, taught that Christianity by British and Irish Celts, would copy these Christians' contemplation upon the Crucifix, in lines sculpted in runes upon the Ruthwell Cross , the first written poem in our English language, 'The Dream of the Rood'.
 

{ S t Francis at St Damian heard and saw the Crucifix speak to him, 'Francis, repair my Church, It is all in ruins!'

Crucifix which spoke to Francis, St Damian's

St Clare tells us in Latin that Christ spoke these words to Francis in French, his telling her of this:

She, like the women at the cross, in the Gospel, is the witness to the miracle, which she, and her 'ladies', then live in prayer at St Damian's, before that Crucifix.
 

{ F ra Angelico, Prior of San Domenico in Fiesole, painted a Crucifix in its Chapter room, his only remaining fresco there. (Napoleon's soldiers destroyed everything else, knowing not of this from its being hidden by whitewash.) The Prior, his successor, gave me this this morning to give to you.

San Domenico in Fiesole, Chapter room
 

{ J ulian , when all thought she was dying, fixed her gaze upon the Crucifix the priest held up to her, and saw it bleed and speak.

Detail, Julia's Crucifix

Then turn to joy . . .
 

{ The Fra Angelico Crucifix frescoed in San Domenico in Fiesole's sacristy shows Christ dead, his head dropped upon his chest, utterly alone. San Damiano's earlier, Byzantine-style, Crucifix peoples that scene with Mary and John at our left, Christ's right hand side; then at our right, Christ's left, the women and Joseph of Arimathea at the entombment; above the Risen Christ ascending to God's right Hand, combining sorrow and joy. I painted that Crucifix life-size in a time of great trouble, in silence, in prayer, in my convent, first the whites and reds, praying with the blood of the nails, hardly daring to put in the blacks. And amazingly the face changed, not being the stiff one of the postcard, of the actual San Damiano Crucifix, that I copied, but this one above, unworthy though it be, but with His gentleness, His kindness.

There is a legend gypsies tell, of one who even stole the nails from Christ's cross, alleviating His pain. Let's go throughout the world stealing out of wounded hands the nails of pain, freeing them to heal us and everyone. . . .
 

{ B ecause an Anchoress like Julian, like any Hermit, imitating St Jerome, must have such a Crucifix in their cell upon which to fix and nail their contemplation, their full attention, so is there one here in this one room on top of a mountain above Florence in Italy. It comes from the Penitentes in New Mexico. Penitentes, whose family names are those of Jewish conversos , came to the New World, founding the first American city, Santa Fe, Holy Faith, but were then isolated in New Mexico and Colorado, forgotten by the Church. For centuries without priest or sacrament, still speaking Cervantes' pure Spanish, at Easter they carry crosses, kept in chapels called 'moradas', and at Christmas are the pastores, seeking the lost Christ Child.

Julia's Penitente Crucifix

Handcarved by a carpenter, this Crucifix pays special attention to the wedges of wood holding the cross in place upon the ground, and to the nails nailed into the hands and feet of the carpenter's son, God's Son, garbing Him in the ermine robes of an Emperor.

Penitente Crucifix

These are the feet by which the women in the Gospel held Him. Place in your hands those Feet, bringing peace across the mountains. Remove from them those nails of cruelty, of punishment, of oppression. Deliver, free, all from evil.
 

{ And this is the lost child, El Nino de Atocha, who in Spain is with his Mother, both in pilgrim hats and garb, but in New Mexico the Holy Child is alone, his Mother Church absent, here the Child seated on Mary's Throne of Wisdom, the Penitentes as a people forgotten from 1598 to 1820.

Thomas J. Steele, S.J., Santos and Saints: The Religious Folk Art of Hispanic New Mexico (Santa Fe: Ancient City Press, 1982), ISBN 0-941270-12-2.

{ The Penitentes came into America's consciousness partly through Hungarian-Irish Georgia O'Keefe, who painted vast canvases of the New Mexico landscape glimpsed through black Penitente crosses.

blackcross

Black Cross, New Mexico, 1929, The Art Institute Purchase Fund, The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in Nancy Frazier, Georgia O'Keefe (New York: Random House, 1990), ISBN 0-17-01514-5.
 

{ The Bishop Monk of the Anglican Community of the Resurrection, Trevor Huddleston, C.R., worked tirelessly in South Africa to end apartheid, writing Nought for Your Comfort, Sister Elsa of the Order of the Holy Paraclete preserving each chapter in turn under her mattress so the police did not confiscate them. I was there in St Helena's Yorkshire, even at St Hilda's Whitby, when Sister Elsa quietly died on Christmas Eve in the midst of Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day her possessions were shared amongst the Sisters, tattered, beloved photographs of Trevor Huddleston. I said, 'These go to the archives. They are beyond price'. The scandal of the cross is understood by slaves, by women, by the Penitentes, by all who are oppressed, yet not by their oppressors, who cannot afford such freedom, who cannot admit paradox, who cannot be emperors without clothes.

In another book, God's World (London: Collins, 1988), p. 75, Trevor Huddleston, himself wearing a Bishop's pectoral cross , wrote:

{ Amen
 

JULIAN OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS 1997-2017 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY  || JULIAN OF NORWICH  || SHOWING OF LOVE || HER TEXTS || HER SELF || ABOUT HER TEXTS || BEFORE JULIAN || HER CONTEMPORARIES || AFTER JULIAN || JULIAN IN OUR TIME ||  ST BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN  ||  BIBLE AND WOMEN || EQUALLY IN GOD'S IMAGE  || MIRROR OF SAINTS || BENEDICTINISM|| THE CLOISTER || ITS SCRIPTORIUM  || AMHERST MANUSCRIPT || PRAYER|| CATALOGUE AND PORTFOLIO (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS ) || BOOK REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY ||