EPISTLE TO GODFRIENDS, 13
n 13 May 1373, a young
woman in Norwich, as all thought, lay dying. Already given the
Last Rites of the Church, the priest now brought her the
Crucifix to gaze upon. Then began the series of visions, the Showing
of Love, of Julian of
Norwich. Miraculously, in partaking of that vision, the
Crucifixion turned into Resurrection, tragedy to comedy, agony
into laughter, death into life. And Julian continued writing
of her vision in books, composed when she was fifty, when she
was seventy. She lived to tell the tale and to console her
even-Christian. For we are the One Body of Christ.
Dearworthy Godfriends,Then, the following day, the Vatican reveals the Third Secret of Fatima given to the shepherd children in Portugal. Throughout the programme on the television, learned men of power in the Church, discoursing upon the discourse by the Virgin with children, with shepherd children, is recourse to the revelation of this prophecy to John Paul II, recovering in the Clinico Gemelli (where my brother, alas, died), from being shot, 13 May 1981, the day of Julian's so similar vision. Sister Lucy, in her nineties, still alive to tell the tale, is shown in conversation with the Pope. Such Godgames played with time! Such Juliangames, weaving Julian webs of 'elegant coincidences', as Italians call them. Indeed, my mind goes backward through time, for Julian speaks of such a secret that God will do at the end of time, unraveling time and sin back to goodness, to the One Body of Christ in Adam and Eve, together, one flesh, and remembers the Virgin appearing here in the Renaissance to two shepherdesses, the Ricoveri daughters, telling them to tell Florence to study the Gospel, her Son as Word. And before that to the Irish brother and sister, Saints Andrew and Bridget, coming to that place with their Bibles, bells and staffs, and living here in caves, converting this part of Tuscany to Christianity, and remembers, too, that Saint Birgitta of Sweden, copying this Irish Bridget, went on pilgrimage, coming to Rome and writing her massive book, then journeying to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, then returning to Rome to die in June 1373, giving her writing as validating model to Julian in Norwich. The message, the secret, the Virgin and Christ give to all these women, to all these children, themselves shepherds and shepherdesses to Christianity, is that we are the One Body of Christ, all our even-Christians, that what we do to the One Body of Christ, to the other, we do to ourselves. Why we need to think of the little child who enters the kingdom of heaven, why we treasure the hazel nut, the olive leaf held in the palm of our hand, as like all of God's Creation, who despises nothing that he has made.
Last night, Corpus Domini, was our 'Cena in Piazza', a Montebeni tradition begun years ago by Don Patrizio, our Olivetan monk of a parish priest, and he and other villagers prepared and served this tremendous meal which we ate outdoors, old and young together. Too much food! It was the Wedding Feast of the Parables, like our Godfriends. So I walked to Mass this morning to walk it off, an hour through our mountains from Montebeni to Fiesole in the golden dawn.
Before that, reading the morning Office of Readings, today about David garbed in heavy armour by Saul, unable to walk, taking it all off again and going to meet Goliath as just a simple shepherd boy, like our Giotto here. And thinking of Hebraism's smallest letter, yod, which becomes Greek's iota, our letter i , as the letter which begins the names of God, and Jerusalem, and Jesus. And how small Florence identified herself with David, though Michelangelo, who also was a child here in Settignano, his wet nurse a stone cutter's wife, joked with carving David out of the stone called 'Giant'. We need to turn our is from giants into children, to enter the kingdom of heaven.
And realizing sin is the taking of power from another, and from God. For God is in the other, in the self where shared in love, where we see all as the One Body of Christ. And where we choose littleness over bigness, going on foot over the car and the plane, holding the hazel nut, the olive leaf, in the palm of the hand, we find God and goodness and peace and happiness. And realizing love is lost where we take power from another, why marriages now go toxic and children in turn are blighted. Why we must pay all debts in order to be forgiven debts. To reestablish God credit we need to earn it with our own labour, the sweat of our own brow, not another's in the Third World whose work we cheapen for our wealth.
The smallest bones in the human body are those in the ear, which the Psalm notes He has marvellously made. It is with those tiniest bones that we hear God and our vocation. Fibonacci, the Italian medieval mathematician, describes nature's curves, sea shells, whorls of ears.
My landlord has just given me a newspaper article on a poem written very shortly after Dante's death, 1321, in 1328, by a Jewish acquaintance of Dante, Immanuel Romano (Manoello Giudeo), and which is a Divina Commedia written in Hebrew, its guide to the author named Daniel (perhaps, Dante), aMachbaroth, now translated and published in Italian. There's a lovely sentence in the review: 'Immanuel e Daniele salgono poi al cielo arrampicandosi sulla scala di Giacobbe ' (Emanuel and Daniel climb to the stars, scrabbling up Jacob's Ladder). And in heaven amongst the women is Pharoah's daughter who rescued Moses. Cesare Segre, who writes the review, says that a difference between Dante and Immanuel is that Immanuel sees men's crimes as not one alone, but part of a web he chooses to weave, sending waves upon waves about him of wrong. A book I buy for our library. We have many copies of the Commedia, in Italian, in English, in Swedish. And we have the Moslem predecessor of Dante's Commedia, translated from Arabic into Italian. Where Mahomet is taken on his voyage through Hell and Paradise by the Angel Gabriel. It shall truly be an ecumenical library!
I am dreaming of having an annual 'Cena in Piazzale' in the Piazzale Donatello English Cemetery! Since I plan on tables that are boards on trestles in the Gatehouse anyway, this will be possible, for we can move these outdoors to feed a multitude! Don Patrizio funds his parish work through his Cena in Piazza and bonds his congregation with it. He reminds me Cyril of Jerusalem saying 'Christ girds himself with the towel of our humanity, to minister to that which is sick'. We can do the same with the Biblioteca Fioretta Mazzei!
Westminster Cathedral Manuscript, Julian on the Hazel Nut
Italian blessed olive leaves, Australian hazelnut
Earth First Seen From Space
JULIAN OF NORWICH, HER SHOWING OF LOVE AND ITS CONTEXTS ©1997-2017 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY || JULIAN OF NORWICH || SHOWING OF LOVE || ST BIRGITTA OF SWEDEN || BIBLE AND WOMEN || EQUALLY IN GOD'S IMAGE || MIRROR OF SAINTS || BENEDICTINISM || THE CLOISTER || ITS SCRIPTORIUM || AMHERST MANUSCRIPT || HEAVEN WINDOW || CATALOGUE (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS ) || BOOK REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY ||