Lent Madness: Julian of Norwich vs. PeterPosted: March 21, 2010
The Round of the Elate Eight continues with two saintly heavy weights: Dame Julian of Norwich vs. the apostle Peter. In recent action Francis of Assisi crushed Aelred of Rievaulx by the largest Lent Madness margin to date 87% to 13%. View the updated tournament bracket here: Lent Madness 2010
On to Legends and Kitsch!
One oddity of the popular Julian is that we really don’t know whether she was actually named “Julian.” Her writings were anonymous and it has simply been surmised that the author was Julian based on the name of the church in Norwich: St. Julian’s. This was where she lived as an anchoress, a hermit living in a cell attached to the church.
But here’s the catch: there was another St. Julian for whom the church was evidently named. This Julian was a popular figure of medieval legend. It seems that Julian, a nobleman, was out hunting one day when he spared the life of a deer that had admonished him. The deer then made the strange prediction that Julian would one day kill his parents. This ended up happening accidentally and Julian resolved to pay penance by establishing a roadside inn for travelers and a hospital for the poor. Thus while Julian of Norwich may have actually been named Julian, there’s a good chance that she was not.
Not much on the Julian of Norwich kitsch front BUT you can purchase her famous saying “All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well” in a variety of formats including necklaces, bracelets, postcards, etc.
Peter, of course, has the keys to the kingdom. As guardian of the “Pearly Gates” he stands in the middle of countless jokes and cartoons as a sort of bouncer/hotel clerk. It’s safe to say that Peter has made more appearances in The New Yorker than any other saint.
The apocryphal Acts of Peter tells the story of the apostle’s martyrdom. Upon fleeing from Rome to avoid persecution, Peter encounters a vision of Jesus going in the opposite direction. He asks him “Quo vadis, Domine?” (“Whither goest thou, Master?”). Jesus responds that he is returning to Rome “to be crucified again.” Peter then decides to return to Rome and accept his martyrdom. According to legend he was crucified upside down.