Thursday, August 17, 2017

Holy Martyrs Paul and Juliana of Ptolemais

Sts. Paul and Juliana (Feast Days - March 4 & August 17)

Verses

For March 4th.

To Paul and Juliana.
The reposed Paul, and the reposed
Juliana, were beheaded as siblings.

To Kodratos, Akakios and Stratonikos.
Three spilled as much blood as water,
Wise blood, was shed for you by the sword O Christ.

For August 17th.

Juliana, Paul, siblings by nature,
Were also seen to be siblings by the sword.

These Holy Martyrs were siblings and lived during the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275). They were born to pious parents and were from the city of Ptolemais in the Galilee region of Israel. Paul diligently studied Holy Scripture, and through its contemplation he had complete mastery over himself. He was also filled with divine zeal to preach the gospel and the message of salvation to all those who lived in the darkness of idolatry.

One day, when Emperor Aurelian arrived in Ptolemais, Paul urged his sister Juliana to be courageous and magnanimous, and to remain steadfast, since soon persecution was coming to the Christians of Ptolemais. Therefore, as Paul stood before the emperor, he traced the sign of the Cross over his body. When certain Greek pagans saw this, they brought him before the emperor. Having confessed his faith in Christ before the emperor, and rebuked the vain idols, the emperor ordered for Paul to be tortured.


First, Paul was suspended and lacerated. When Juliana saw this, she denounced the tyrant and was delivered to a cauldron filled with boiling pitch. Both stood firm in their faith and remain unscathed. Then they were forced to lie over a fiery iron bed while their backs were lacerated. Two of the torturers, Kodratos and Akakios, pitied the Saints and attended to them, and accepted the Christian faith, for which the renowned ones were beheaded, and thus received the crown of martyrdom.

Following this, Paul and Juliana were shackled in iron chains and cast into prison. However, angels of the Lord visited them and loosed their bonds. They also gave the brother and sister bread to eat, which strengthened them, and they gave thanks to God.

Again the Saints were brought before the emperor, and because they still refused to offer sacrifice to the idols, they were beaten. One of the the torturers, named Stratonikos, pitied and felt compassion for Juliana, and he believed in Christ. She, however, told him to not have compassion on her, but to carry out the command of the emperor. When the emperor learned of this, he had Stratonikos beheaded. The Saints meanwhile were ordered to be placed amid deadly serpents and reptiles.


Having been preserved unharmed by divine grace, the tyrant ordered that Paul be struck in the face with lead, then four soldiers were to beat him with thorny rods on both sides of his body. Juliana, meanwhile, was taken to a brothel to be corrupted by dissolute men. However, an angel of the Lord kept watch over her, and when someone came forward to dishonor Juliana, the angel would kick up dust with his feet and blind the man approaching. Juliana was moved to pity the men who became blinded, therefore she prayed and poured water over their eyes, and their sight was restored.

Not long after the two siblings were brought together again, and the tyrant ordered for them to be cast into a fiery pit where they were to be stoned. Then a cloud, replete with light, approached the emperor and poured flaming hot rain upon him. Frightened, he removed the Saints from the pit and ordered them to be bound to a stake. Torturers then lit torches and burned their eyes out, as well as their flesh. Then it was ordered for them to be beheaded, and in this way the holy siblings Paul and Juliana received the unfading crown of the contest.

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