Saturday, 30 January 2016

Norwich: Place and People

Zero and I visited Norwich Cathedral (here and here) a couple of weeks ago. The Cathedral has a West window with stunning colours, which we were fortunate to see when it was illuminated by bright sunlight. There is a lovely perspective view of the window looking back down the nave of the Church from the entrance to the choir. In the main frames of the window, scenes from the life of Christ are paralleled to scenes from the life of Moses.

Likewise, there is another splendid perspective looking along the north aisle from beside the Choir - if you stand carefully in the centre of that aisle, and time your visit for afternoon sunlight, the Romanesque arches in their white stone appear to disappear into a distance.

There is also a lovely modern stained glass window portraying the Virgin and Child - again we were fortunate to be able to view it back lit by afternoon sunlight.

Norwich Cathedral is associated with St Benedict, as the Church and its adjacent buildings were first built as a monastery for some 60 or so Benedictine monks. The founder of the Cathedral, Herbert de Losinga is buried in the presbytery (what Catholics might more commonly call the sanctuary) of the Choir.
But the two particular people associated with the Cathedral (or, at least, with Norwich) to whom I would like to draw attention are Edith Cavell and Julian of Norwich.
Edith Cavell is buried in the grounds of the Cathedral, and a memorial to her stands in the road adjacent to the Cathedral Close. Her link to Norwich is her residence there before travelling to Belgium at the outbreak of World War I.
Julian of Norwich is represented by a sculpture at the West Door (she is paired with St Benedict on the other side of the door) . If I had been a bit more alert, we might have found our way to St Julian's Church as well as to the Cathedral. If the study of Julian by Grace Jantzen is correct, Julian's attribution of the title "mother" to Jesus is not at a root a feminisation of the person of Jesus or of the divinity. It is associated with a Trinitarian teaching which sees Fatherhood in the first person, motherhood in the second person; and a linking of the idea that the Church being a mother implies that Christ, whose body is the Church, also has the character of mother.
(From a personal point of view, Norwich Cathedral has one really big thing going for it...... it isn't baroque!)

Image attributions: [By J.P.Guffogg [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]]

1 comment:

Patricius said...

The cathedral treasury in Norwich is well worth a visit. Amongst the silvereware can be seen items which escaped melting down at the Reformation including patens. These seem to have been retained by parishes when the order went out to send chalices in to be refashioned to look like common table vessels more appropriate to the protestant service. The patens often bear knife marks- knives being used to cut up the bread and make plain the rejection of transubstantiation.