Today in the Middle Ages: May 8, 1373

Seriously ill, Dame Julian of Norwich had a series of visions of Christ's love on May 8, 1373. She spent years in contemplation of their meaning, finally producing Revelations of Divine Love, the first known English book written by a woman.

Julian lived her entire life in Norwich, England, where her image appears in two stained glass windows of St. Julian's Episcopal Church. She was thirty years old when she received her visions. Upon her recovery from that illness, she became an anchoress, or contemplative nun, until her death.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Julian saw suffering not as divine punishment for sin but as God's means of drawing the faithful closer to himself. Her understanding of a loving and patient God is preserved today in the Anglican Order of Julian of Norwich.