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Pope Francis highlights English mystic Julian of Norwich in talk on mercy

Pope Francis arrives on his popemobile for toay's weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican (PA)

Pope Francis has quoted from the fourteenth-century English mystic Julian of Norwich as he spoke of God’s mercy at his weekly general audience at St Peter’s.

Pope Francis said: “In one of her visions, Julian of Norwich hears the Lord say that he rejoices eternally because he was able to suffer for our sake out of love.

“Let us prepare then to celebrate the coming days with gratitude for this great mystery of God’s mercy, poured out for us on the cross of our salvation.”

The passage is from Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love, in which she records mystical conversations with Jesus.

During her visions Julian thanked Jesus for suffering on the cross for all of humanity. She records Jesus telling her that suffering the passion “is a joy, a bliss, an endless satisfaction to me; if I might suffer more, I would suffer more.”

Julian of Norwich lived from the mid-fourteenth century to the early fifteenth. She is celebrated each year in Norwich, near which she lived as an anchoress.

In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to her, saying she exemplified “closeness to God” and service to others as a counsellor and advisor.

At his audience, Pope Francis said God’s love is limitless and the church’s Holy Week services offer Christians a deeper understanding of his infinite mercy.

The Pope said the Easter Triduum is a memorial to a love story “that gives us the certainty that we will never be abandoned in life’s trials”.

Continuing a series of talks dedicated to God’s mercy, the Pope reflected on each day of the Triduum leading to the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection. In remembering the washing of the feet and the institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, he said Christians recall how Christ shows his disciples that the “Eucharist is love that is done through service” to others.

“In giving himself to us as food, Jesus attests that we must learn to break this nourishment with others so that it may become a true communion of life with those who are in need. He gives himself to us and asks us to remain in him in order to do the same,” the Pope said.

Good Friday, he continued, is the “climactic moment” of the love of God who offers salvation to the whole world; a love that “embraces all and excludes no one.” Pope Francis added that in remembering Christ’s passion and death, Christians “can and must love one another.”

Christians are called to live Holy Saturday as a day of silence “like it was that very day, which was the day of God’s silence,” he said.

“Our Lady should be the icon for us of that Holy Saturday,” the Pope added. “Think a lot about how Our Lady lived that Holy Saturday: waiting.”

Pope Francis told the pilgrims gathered for his audience, “Let us allow ourselves to be enveloped by this mercy that comes to meet us. And in these days, while our gaze is fixed on the Lord’s passion and death, let us welcome into our hearts the greatness of his love and, like Our Lady on (Holy) Saturday, in silence await the resurrection.”