Julian doesn’t explicitly offer a picture of holiness, though she often refers to salvation, and in some ways her image of salvation is conflated with that of holiness. In chapter 49 she claims “we cannot be blessedly saved until we are truly in a state of peace and love; for that is our salvation.” Then comes chapter 77, where this becomes, “to be perfectly like our Lord is our true salvation and our utmost bliss.” This state of gentleness and compassion, and being perfectly like our Lord, are intimately connected in her mind with the lack of wrath or violence—that condition we are caught up in on account of sin.

The idea of avoiding sanctity in order to be human, as if the two states were inherently in conflict, is one of those unfortunate modern misconceptions which misses the point that human nature is not the problem, but sin. It is sin, that “behovely” contrariness in us in opposition to God’s peace and love—not simply what may be in one place or another either culturally endorsed or offensive—that leads us to be so inhuman, while to be a saint is to be fully human. Our being in Christ heals this “greatest scourge” of sin and restores us to Christ’s likeness, for whom human nature was created. To be fully human is to be like Christ; in other words, to become holy. And Julian adds, “And if we do not know how we shall do all this let us ask our Lord and he will teach us, for it is his own delight and his glory.”

Julian is considered a saint not because she had amazing visions, though she did, nor because she was a remarkable theologian, though she was, but because what she wrote communicates to her readers the lack of violence, the gentleness, love, humility, compassion, and true longing for God which she identified as our salvation, and the medicines of our healing, and the means of our coming to holiness. She is recognized, in other words, as being very much, if not perfectly, like Christ Jesus. And, she points out, we are called to this too.

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