The church celebrates the feast of one of the great martyrs of the Diocletianic persecution in 303. It was the last massive wave of persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire. This persecution has seen the martyrdom of Saints Barbara and Juliana. Both were executed by beheading, burning, or plunged into a boiling pot.
St. Juliana was born in 285 in present-day Naples, Italy. Her story goes that she was to be betrothed to a Roman senator named Eleusius, who was a close advisor to Emperor Diocletian. Her father wanted her to marry the senator and despised her for being a Christian. Despite the persuasions of her father and Eleusius, St. Juliana refuses to accept the marriage. In turn, she was handed over to the Roman governor and was placed into a prison.
The persistence of her parents and former fiancee to enter into marriage continued while she was imprisoned. However, St. Juliana remained strong in her conviction and continued to refuse the arranged marriage as she would rather die a Christian than marry a pagan.
When her ex-fiancee carried on the torture, which included hot iron on her face and ruthless flogging, St. Juliana said to him, “At the resurrection of the righteous, there won’t exist burnings and wounds but only the soul. So Eleusius, I prefer to have now the wounds of the body which are temporary, rather than the wounds of the soul which torture eternal.”
Her feast day in the Roman rite is February 16th. She is celebrated on December 21st by the Greek Church. She is the patron saint of sickness and is popular in the Netherlands. Saint Juliana, pray for us.
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