I was thinking of how blessed we Godfriends are. Godfriend Father Nathanael's icon of Julian being loved by all, even pirated for book covers and web essays, that he had created in Ohio. Godfriend Lydia McCauley's Sabbath Day's Journey CD with its song from Julian 'And All Shall be Well', recorded in Washington. Godfriends Julie Dresvina and her Ilya in Oxford creating the recording of the reading Julian's Westminster Manuscript text, Godfriend Sister Anna Maria Reynolds in Ireland having first edited that text. Godfriend Petter Sammerud from Norway, but also in Amsterdam, in India, with his Madonna and Child, his three lilies now in bloom. And myself in Florence putting all these together in a CD for you. This combining of Orthodoxy, Anglicism and Catholicism and so much else about the figure of Julian and the medieval - and modern - Friends of God. 'Blessed may we be.'
Then, yesterday, came two copies of Reflections on the Human Vocation, published by Providence College, because they had included Father Nathanael's most beautiful icon
having written to him and receiving permission to publish it with the caption 'by the hand of the monk Nathanael © 2007 Monastic Brotherhood of St Theodore the Studite, Galion, Ohio' in an essay by Father Joseph J. Guido O.P., 'Five Years After the Towers Fell: Finding God in Difficult Times'. Validating the Oliveleaf Website on trauma healing that is an integral part of the Julian Website
Then, this morning, sadly, this, just as I sat down to the computer to write to Father Nathanael:
I know you were much respected by Fr. Nathanael. With sadness I need to inform you that he passed into eternal life this past day, Friday afternooon, May 18 at about 5:45, EST here in Ohio. He was very ill for about a week with what turned out to be a staph infection, and on this past Wednesday suffered a massive stroke. After receiving Holy Anointing and being tonsured to the Great Schema, this morning by our Metropolitan Maximos, he died this afternoon. I recommend him to your prayers. May his memory be eternal!
Our icon of Julian is magnificent, created in fasting and prayer. I placed it on the altar of Norwich Cathedral during my lecture there in 1999. Our prayers for our beloved Father Nathanael, who had brought it to me with its paint still wet where I was giving a paper in Kalamazoo, who came into the room, late, beard flowing, blue Irish eyes, cane and all, knocked over the projector, plunging us into profound darkness, to my greeting 'Welcome, Father Nathanael'. Though I had not before met him, it could only have been him. He and his prayerful icon have sustained me now for many years.
It is perfect, this icon. Showing Julian as Benedictine, praying the Advent Antiphon, 'O Sapientia', where the mother prays to her as-yet unborn Child, contemplating on all these things in her heart, Julian mirroring Mary, ourselves, beholding it, mirroring Julian. Father Nathanael told me he took the face of Julian from Fra Angelico's face of Mary in the Cook Tondo in Washington's National Gallery. He told me, too, he had been a jeweller, until arthritis made him change that to painting.
And how did I, a hermit in Italy, come to know Father Nathanael in Ohio? It was back in the pioneering days of the Internet, a Discussion List on the Ordination of Women, when I was Anglican, when I believed women could be priests though that vocation was not mine. Father Nathanael on the same list was adversarial. We become Godfriends, I became Catholic, with mutual respect for each other. His fragrant beeswax candles are on our prayer table beside his most beautiful icon.
Blessed be his memory for ever.
"You see," writes Catherine of Siena, speaking in the person of the eternal Father, "this sweet and loving Word born in a stable, while Mary was journeying; to show to you, who are travellers, that you must ever be born again in the stable of knowledge of yourselves, where you will find Him born by grace within your souls."
Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit of the Holy Family
Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei, 'English Cemetery'
Piazzale Donatello, 38, 50132 FIRENZE, ITALY
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