ABSTRACT

In the Showings, Julian of Norwich describes a tension between the visions she receives and the teachings of Holy Church. Although this tension is usually examined in relation to the Parable of the Lord and the Servant, this article explores the difference between the “higher dome” and the “lower dome” in terms of sacramental confession. I argue that Julian seems to sideline the sacrament of penance by introducing a new form of confession and penance that is directly facilitated by God. However, I conclude that rather than replacing sacramental confession, Julian's penitential practice serves to complement the medieval penitential system by correcting its punitive and judicial emphasis, which she feels causes unnecessary despair in its focus on the sinner's blameworthiness.

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