Monday, December 4, 2017

Holy Martyr Juliana, Who Was Martyred With Saint Barbara

St. Juliana the Martyr of Heliopolis (Feast Day - December 4)

Verses

Receive Juliana as a dove,
Who was speedily beheaded while chirping O Word.

While Saint Barbara was being tortured for her Christian faith at the orders of Governor Martianus, to whom she was betrayed by her pagan father Dioscorus, there was a Christian woman who lived nearby named Juliana, who feared God and had seen the torturers lay hold of Saint Barbara. She watched from afar as Barbara was tormented, and after the Saint was taken to the prison, looked in at her through the dungeon window. She marveled at how a young maiden, in the very bloom of youth and beauty, could forsake her father, kindred, wealth, and the good and beautiful things of this world, and be so eager to lay down her life for Christ. When she saw that the Lord had healed Saint Barbara’s wounds in prison, she was herself filled with longing to suffer for Him. She began to prepare herself for the struggle, praying to Christ, the Judge of the contest, to grant her the strength to endure torture.

At daybreak Barbara was brought out of the prison to suffer fresh torments. Juliana followed her at a distance. Among the people watching the Saint’s passion stood Juliana, who could not restrain herself from weeping when she saw Barbara bravely endure torture. Filled with zeal, Juliana cried out amidst the crowd and began to revile the pagan gods and accuse the merciless Governor of inhuman cruelty. She was at once seized and asked what faith she professed. Since she confessed herself to be a Christian, the Governor commanded that she be put to torture with Barbara. Juliana was suspended alongside Barbara and scraped with iron hooks. Meanwhile, Barbara lifted up her eyes and prayed, "O God, Who dost try the hearts of men, Thou knowest that I long for Thee and love Thy sacred commandments. I have surrendered myself into Thine almighty right hand. Forsake me not, O Lord, but mercifully look down upon me and my fellow-sufferer Juliana. Strengthen us both and enable us to complete the present contest well, 'for the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'"

As the Saint prayed, invisible succor descended from heaven upon the two martyrs, enabling them to endure their torment courageously. Then the persecutor ordered that their breasts be cut off, leaving them in the utmost pain. Again Barbara turned to her Physician and Healer, lifting up her eyes and crying, "Cast us not away from Thy face, O Christ, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from us. Grant us, O Lord, the joy of salvation, and by Thy governing Spirit confirm us in Thy love!"

After these tortures, the Governor had Saint Juliana taken to prison, while to expose Saint Barbara to even greater shame, he had her led naked through the city to be jeered at, pawed, and buffeted. Saint Barbara was returned to the persecutor, who then had Saint Juliana led naked through the city and made a spectacle unto angels and men. Finally, seeing that he could not separate either of the saints from the love of Christ or compel them to worship idols, the tyrant condemned both to be beheaded.

Dioscorus, Saint Barbara’s hardhearted father, not only felt no sorrow at the sight of his daughter’s sufferings, but gladly volunteered to be her executioner. Seizing Barbara with one hand and holding his bared sword with the other, he led her to the place of execution, a mountain outside the city. Behind them a soldier led Saint Juliana. Barbara and Juliana hastened to their death with great joy, wishing to depart from the body quickly and go to their Lord. When they reached the appointed place, Christ’s lamb Barbara bent her neck beneath the sword and was beheaded by her merciless father. Thus the words of the Scriptures were fulfilled: "And the father shall deliver up the child to death." The soldier beheaded Juliana there also, and thus the martyrs completed their contest together.

There lived in Heliopolis a pious man named Valentian who removed the precious bodies of the holy martyrs and returned them to the city. He buried them with fitting honor and built a church over them. Through the grace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the prayers of the saints, numerous healings were worked through the relics.

(Excerpts taken from the Life of Saint Barbara by Saint Dimitri of Rostov.)

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