Julian of Norwich vs. Joseph of Arimathea

With three out of the four saints set, today we’ll complete the Faithful Four as Julian of Norwich takes on Jospeh of Arimathea. To make it this far, Joseph zipped past Lazarus and Kassia, while Julian beat Brigid of Kildare and Zita. 

Yesterday Henry Whipple edged Canaire 52% to 48% to advance to the next round.

After today’s vote, we’ll take a collective breath over the weekend to wave palms and hear the Passion Gospel on Sunday. And then next week will bring a fast and furious culmination to Lent Madness XV.

Vote now!

Julian of Norwich

Julian is one of the best-known mystics, beloved for her insight and honesty about the challenges of life, the reality of sin, and the desperate need we all have to know we are loved. If you, like so many of us, enter the day needing a boost of hope, divine or otherwise, pour a strong cup of coffee or a lovely cuppa tea into your very own Julian mug, complete with one of her most famous quotes, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Ahhh, there you go. Now that you’ve caffeinated and affirmed the innate goodness of humanity, it’s time to start your day. Let’s take that wisdom of Dame Julian right into the world with your very own Julian t-shirt that has not only her famous saying, but a picture of a hazelnut. The hazelnut is related to another renowned part of Showings, rather unrelated to the quote, but in the world of kitsch, logic is, well, not exactly necessary. And if the shirt is not enough, add a trucker hat to your ensemble to witness the Good News in multiple ways.

Reinforced by Julian’s wise words and coffee (or tea), the day is filled with possibilities. Including the opportunity to spend time putting together your very own Julian puzzle! Julian herself pieced together contemplative insights about God and Christ after a near-death experience. You can simply sit at a table, spread out all the pieces, and slowly put together the larger image of God’s love as shared by Julian.

After you’ve worked on your puzzle a while, perhaps it’s time to imitate Dame Julian with some time of deep contemplation. Julian is often pictured with a cat. The rule for anchorites, which Julian was, suggested a cat as a companion in one’s solitude as well as a handy way to keep rats away. Whether Julian actually had a cat is unknown. But surely if she did, she would have had this print in thanksgiving for the gifts of contemplation, cats, and solitude.

All this deep study of Julian has inspired you to join her in the life of an anchorite. But alas, where to find a cave? Never fear, the Lent Madness Celebrity Bloggers are here. After scouring the internet, you, too, can have your own cell in which to pray, contemplate God’s astounding love, and adore your cat.

After all this, we truly do know that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…especially in the world of Lent Madness.

Laurie Brock


Joseph of Arimathea

Joseph of Arimathea gets no lines in our gospels, and since he’s the stuff of legends, I thought there would be lots of kitsch. I was wrong. But there is a lot of intriguing art. Let’s examine the art in order of what we know about Joseph of Arimathea’s role in Jesus’s death.

We first know that Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for Jesus’s body. This image, which is in the Brooklyn Museum’s European art collection, is gouache over graphite on gray wove paper. I love how Joseph of Arimathea is off-center. While there is color in this painting, Joseph is shrouded and cloaked. Fitting.

A stained glass window at the St. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea Church in Israel depicts Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus lowering Jesus from the cross. Did it really happen if there’s not a stained glass window?

This 14th-century icon of the descent from the cross is in the Church of Agia Marina, Kalopanayiotis. It’s used in an online station of the cross using Byzantine art. Sometimes, images like this have Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus catching Jesus’s sweat and blood from the wound in his side in the grail.

We’ve arrived at the tomb Joseph of Arimathea prepared for Jesus. Mary, mother of Jesus, and John join Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. This work is my favorite as I appreciate the details and facial expressions. Also notice the hand in Jesus’s hair and furrowed brows. The sadness is palpable.

Here’s a different grouping at the tomb: (from the left) Nicodemus, an unidentified helper, Mary Magdalene, Mary, John the Apostle, and Joseph of Arimathea placing the body of Jesus in a tomb in this 1509 sculpture at the church Groß St. Martin (Köln). Notice the hands on the cloth holding Jesus’s body and the facial expressions. It’s so interesting to compare these sculptures.

For all you grail legend lovers, here’s an image of the grail replica from Indiana Jones and the Last Adventure. The person guarding the grail in the movie is not Joseph of Arimathea, at least according to IMdb.

Finally, here is the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. May he rest in eternal peace with our gratitude for caring for Jesus’s earthly body.

Miriam McKenney

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68 comments on “Julian of Norwich vs. Joseph of Arimathea”

  1. If you actually say quietly or out loud "All will be well,and all will be well,and all manner of things will be well" you actually feel it to your core. Julian was brilliant.

    1. If you say it three times while looking in a mirror, a cat will appear (that is, if you have a cat).

  2. I was always going to vote for my favourite saint, Julian, but the kitsch settled it. I want all of that stuff.

    1. I couldn't tell where you can actually get the stuff! I followed the link for the shirt, but only got a JPG image. Since I'm totally blind and therefore use a screen reader, I couldn't read any info about where to snag it.

      1. I agree that all the bloggers should provide the sources of any images they use, be they of actual merchandise or just graphics.

  3. I voted for Julian of Norwich, but love Miriam McKenney's contemplation of Joseph of Arimathea through art. I LOVE the kitsch round and think it's both meaningful and important, not just funny (see my comments earlier this week on kitsch). BUT an art round would be a lovely thing, as Miriam demonstrates, as it shows us how we've seen and imagined these saints across different eras and cultures.

  4. Once again - tough tough choice - Love Laurie's kitsch, but cried looking at the art Miriam chose.
    yikes what to do???

    1. me also. actually changed my vote. the art work and write up really hit me, esp as we prepare to enter holy weel

  5. I admire and respect Julian, however Joseph's contribution to Christianity is so fundamental that I am voting to advance the man whose actions made the evidence of the resurrection exist.

  6. I have a vase from Glastonbury Abbey which has imbedded in the glaze leafs from the bush that grew from Joseph of Arimathea's staff which he planted in the ground. Legend has it that Joeseph of Arimathea took the young Jesus to Britain and visited what is now Glastonbury. Real kitsch?

  7. I sat at the table of Julian of Norwich during my Cursillo weekend and assumed that I was going to vote for her, but Joseph drew me in.

  8. Julian of Norwich had visions in her near death experience which she described beautifully. Her showings of what lies above and beyond have comforted people by opening the eyes of the mind ever since. Having a Gold Halo coffee mug to go with her Silver Halo coffee mug would be wonderful.

  9. Fascinating art AND a trucker hat! Thanks to all the bloggers for an outstanding roundup of hilarioudly thoughtful kitsch.

  10. Wow, this was a tough vote. I went with Joseph the last time but Julian this time. Kind of splitting my vote. Both so worthy. Hopefully the loser will be back on next year's list.

    Have a Blessed Palm Sunday, everyone.

    1. The Elate Eight will not be eligible for at least two years, so the earliest that seven of these could be back is 2027.
      And one of the eight will be permanently retired from competition. Can't win the Golden Halo twice!

      1. There is also Emperor Julian the Apostate, who has no place in Lent Madness.

    1. What a lovely article. Thank you for the link. Who knew there was a Royal School of Embroidery! Such a beautiful and intricate piece of art. Julian still speaks to us all.

  11. Jeepers, peepers - this is getting really hard! I have found Julian to be quite inspiring and interesting over the years, but as I sit here and contemplate, I thought I would vote for the under guy because he put himself out there and in danger quite publically. Besides, I have a dog who cuddles quite nicely.

  12. I had to vote for Julian, but I want to give a shout-out to celebrity blogger Miriam for going the iconographic route. Go Miriam! We have plenty more images of Joseph of Arimathea (and many other saints) at the Index of Medieval Art, where we are all big fans of Lent Madness. Please check us out and let us know if and when we can help shed pictorial light on your saintly contestants!

  13. I'm not sure about "the innate goodness of humanity" ... but Julian's got my vote today because of the innate goodness of God. Which is why "all shall be well..."

  14. Here's a Joseph tribute, even though I voted for Julian.
    Pontius Pilate: "Joseph I really don't understand. You're one of the richest men in the region, and you've spent a small fortune on a new tomb for you and your family and you want to give it
    to this man Jesus?"
    Joseph: "It's just for the weekend"

    1. It's an early VRBO rental. Since there was not food offered, we cant really call it a B&B.

  15. Julian is an old friend. Encouraging me on those days when all did not seem well. But the art for Joseph of Arimathea is so compelling, I had to vote for Joseph today. a new found friend. I've never seen these images at the cross before, and Miriam helped to bring them to life.

  16. This was hard! I wrote down the quote for today for Julian but my heart is with Joseph!

  17. I looked up Julian on Amazon and found lots of books - including a cookbook. A note says that she did not cook herself but had food delivered by her maid.

  18. Voting for Julian in part to prevent an all-male final four. Which would be, if Julian loses today, two modern saints against two biblical saints--bypassing the Roman empire, the middle ages and the renaissance entirely. How odd!

  19. I have to vote for Julian because I love her, but the artwork kitsch for Joseph is wonderful! Thank you for this beautiful collection, Miriam.

  20. I love the Lent Madness. It is lighthearted enough for me to open during my lunch break but holy enough for it to feel like a devotional prayer. My daily vote is akin to me lighting a devotional candle for something that I need to think on- more like a votive than a vote. A pause to think of the saints in the middle of a stressful day. Thank you

  21. I'm for Julian all the way. But I love the kitsch round. It brings out the bloggers' creativity. Bonus points to Miriam McKenney for "Did it really happen if there's not a stained glass window?" The cement chunk that Laurie Brock found to be a "cave" is . . . imaginative. Well done, bloggers! Bravae.

  22. Loved the artwork for Joseph, but my vote from Norwich goes to Julian and to the hope that all will be well.

  23. Joseph of Arimathea is the epitome of selfless giving, and his example is worthy of veneration.